• 11.21.14   Shotopop Gets Creative Quickly for Samsung

    Advertising, as a form, is always evolving. Audiences are captive, but don’t want to be preached to. They want to be engaged. It’s not enough to list features anymore, consumers are looking to connect with products the way they are able to connect with anyone online, or the world around them. Devices should fit seamlessly into their lives and enable them to reach their goals, not represent another pile of metal and electricity they’re liable for. When Shotopop took on Samsung’s latest spot, “Ready, Set,” for The Note, they were tasked with finding the inherent contrast that exists within portable technology. The new Note, a large touch screen phone, has infinite applications, and everyone uses it in a different way. For the sake of this project, they showed the happy contrast between two worlds, and how those worlds happily coexist. The advertisement shows off how The Note can be used in a host of situations to help users be creative, be engaging, and be productive. It uses the age old catalyst, “Ready, Set, Go!” as a stepping stone into richer, more nuanced endeavors,. The animation and design house took on the task of designing the typography for the spot, using two very different aesthetics. First, for the “Ready, Set” designs, they went with something graphic and strong. “Samsung wanted to keep the whole creative thing going, but also it’s business and serious, so that was the more corporate and techy clean and modern,” says Casper Franken, Producer at Shotopop. “For the other words the focus was to be as creative as possible and just do something wild.” It’s exactly what it sounds like. Shotopop was given free range to go as big as they could. The animators quickly put together some concepts (the timeline was condensed), and as soon as the basic images were approved, Shotopop got animating. What you see is the fruits on that initial exploration. The focus of this campaign isn’t just to sell the Note, but to show potential buyers that they can use the Note to operate in new, easy ways. With encouragement built into the spot like “Win, Write, Go Big, Create,” the message is clear: be active. This advice was not lost on the folks at Shotopop. In fact, because they were working so hard and quickly on the project, they didn’t have a chance to do anything else. “It was reasonably easy because we were given an almost complete freedom to do anything that relates to the word,” Casper says with a laugh. “We didn’t have time to fail or think about it.” In fact, right before the spots were set to be completed there was a creative change, and Shotopop made some very quick seamless adjustments, but we bet you can't tell.  
  • 11.24.14   Marc Hom Shows the Other Side of Benedict Cumberbatch

    Despite a litany of severely serious roles, the Benedict Cumberbatch that fans have gotten to know is deeply charming and playful. His energy is as high as his craft and he’s as quick to a laugh as he is to a genuine moment. But his latest film, The Imitation Game, is nothing to laugh at. Taking on the role of Alan Turing, a man who changed the course of World War II and was paid for his achievements with being branded a criminal (for unrelated reasons), is a somber responsibility and Benedict’s skills match the seriousness of the task. Elle UK channeled that solemnity for their recent cover featuring the star, and they picked Marc Hom to show off that side of this charmer. Benedict’s fame is relatively new, but he’s someone Marc has been watching. A viewer of BBC’s Sherlock starring Cumberbatch, Marc has been taken by his unique look. “In one way he’s old fashion, Hitchcock-like,” he says. “And in another way he’s just a mysterious person, he has an elegance but he’s intriguing. There’s definitely a different layer than the rest of the pack out there.” As a photographer, Marc interacts with famous people almost every day. If Marc is not shooting a cover, he’s shooting features on upcoming blockbusters or pieces about our favorite stars. His challenge is to connect with these celebrities and pull something honest out of them that we don't normally get to see. With Cumberbatch, it wasn’t a challenge. Marc was immediately struck by Cumberbatch’s intelligence. “What was so refreshing is that I was working with a person who is extremely well read,” Marc says. “Someone who has training going back to what actors used to have in the British theatrical tradition. There’s a maturity about him.” This is someone whose focus has been the work he’s doing, and doing the work well. It’s not about fame, it’s not about money, it’s about the craft and doing good work. So Marc and Cumberbatch did good work together. “It’s nice to work with people who have the openness to be a good listener and play ball with the ideas,” Marc says. “He’s very comfortable in his own skin. He seems like he’s in a very good spot at the moment.” That comfort allows for a totally different quality in the shoot. Marc explains: “There’s a certain kind of effortlessness about it. It’s organic.” As viewers, we end up seeing a version of Cumberbatch that is honest, unfiltered, and candid. With someone like Cumberbatch, who has quickly amassed an enviable career in a lengthy list of smash hits, it’s easy to be pigeonholed into a shallow and singular identity. But the truth is far more appealing.
  • 11.20.14   Tom Corbett's Opening Night

    Gowns are glamour. They are grace and beauty in tangible form, draped on the wearer, magnifying the splendor to magnificence. They are a heightened kind of formalwear that carry gravity wherever they go, no matter the context. When Tom Corbett was shooting a huge array of formal gowns for Mall at Millenia Magazine, they decided to put the gowns in their natural, dramatic environment. They chose Alvin Ailey Studio in New York City as the setting for the project, utilizing the theatricality of the performance spaces and rehearsal rooms. “It’s an amazing space, they were very kind to give it to us,” Tom explains. “We shot in the auditorium, in the theatre, all over the building actually.” The use of that space afforded them details that would be impossible anywhere else. Most notably: the lighting. Alvin Ailey is already set up to light dance, which is a form unique to that kind of theatre. Where plays are lit from above, dance is lit also from the sides, allowing for dimension to play off the lines of the human body; perfect for a high fashion shoot. As much as Tom is known for high bright, high energy shoots, the other side of him has a passion for dramatic lighting. “Lighting was a big part of this,” Tom says. “I love lighting these kind of big stories, these big buildings.” They shot the whole story in only two days, and with all those moving pieces it meant a lot of hands on deck to ensure everything happened flawlessly. “It takes time to light these shots, and we’re using smoke, lighting whole rooms with big theatricals lights,” Tom explains. “It’s not something that’s done quickly. It’s a lot of work for the guys and they did an amazing job.” Everyone chipped in. “There’s a real team effort with everybody. The whole thing. Everybody pulled together and everyone loved what we were doing. That kind of energy really helps on the day.” Tom’s cast of crew all pulled together for the shoot, including fellow B&A artist Titilayo Bankole who did the manicures, but there was one final piece: the natural energy of their setting. Being in a dance theatre the whole day meant that the whole shoot was suffused with creative energy from the start. Everywhere else in the building, there were dancers studying their craft, exploring, expressing, and delving into the creative space of artistry. For Tom, it was impossible to resist. “It was lovely to take some of the energy from such a creative environment,” he says. "It’s always inspiring to be around creative people, there’s an energy there.” After a long two days, sometimes it’s not easy to look back and see the whole project in the context that it was, but for Tom this shoot was a complete joy. He shoots for Millenia every year and loves it more and more. “Every time I shoot for them I get something beautiful and it gets better and better, and this is the best one yet. So I was very excited,” Tom says. “It was a big two days, but it was a real labor of love.” Creative director Laurie BrookinsFashion Stylist: Mindy SaadMakeup: Keiko from Bryan BantryHair: Bradley Irion from ABTPManicurist: Titilayo Bankole from Bernstein & Andriulli
  • 11.17.14   Am I Collective Takes the Time to Make It Right

    The first documented usage of stop motion animation was in 1902. It was created as a way to simulate an impossible live action filmed experience in the third dimension before more sophisticated effects were available. At the beginning it was crude and limited, but as the form developed it turned into it's own art form. Now that computers are capable of animating anything we can imagine, stop motion is entirely elective. We choose it for the way it looks and feels rather than out of necessity. It is created from practical elements shaped in real life, so textures and three-dimensional depth of field are far above what computers can generate, even today. It is an affirmative choice made out of love for the form, and the affinity for authenticity. Am I Collective took advantage of that inherent connection for their spots for Budget Insurance. Stop motion is a demanding form, moving the subject nearly imperceptible distances for a single frame, each frame captured separately as a photograph. Since 24 frames equates to only one second of final footage, means it can take an entire day to create just a few moments, especially when the movements are as complex as the choreography for the Budget videos. Am I Collective dug deep into this process, as is verifiable through their Behind the Scenes video. In it you can see Am I Collective designed every pose, mouth movement, and color far before animation began. Since stop motion is so time consuming, a very specific preproduction plan is crucial for successful execution, and to ensure no moments are wasted. Unlike live action filming where take after take can be captured, the time demands that each shot of stop motion is perfect. It’s exhaustive and exhausting, but the results are equal to the effort. Ultimately Am I Collective used a combination of practical stop motion and computer digital effects for the final spot. This combination allowed them to focus on the subjects of their stories. The human figures and their movements were entirely animated, while the backgrounds were filled in during post. But that’s how the spots ended up telling the story they needed to tell. The texture of the characters provided an element of humanity that would be flattened out using pure computer effects (without a lot of time and extra money). The practical elements ensure an immediate emotional connection to that which exists in the same world, and helps Budget Insurance make their pitch in a much more personal way.
  • 11.19.14   Found Turns a Liability into an Asset

    Found has been doing projection mapping for a while, it's becoming a sort of powerhouse for them. After launching the Nike Flyknit Program in Berlin, they brought their mastery to a Hiscox TV spot that changed the way the industry saw projection mapping. What was once an ephemeral experience just for those who attended, was now something that could live on film forever, acting as a herald for the insurance company and a calling card for Found. Each project and experience has built on top of one another allowing for the experience that creates a library of knowledge that far surpasses the casual creator. When MTV came to Found earlier this year they wanted to work together, but it was not for a specific project. Found has the experience to execute practically anything, so they spitballed for a while to see if they could figure out the perfect project to work on together. Eventually, according to Joe Binks, producer at Found, MTV came to them and cleared the table saying, “Look, we’ve got a better idea, what about a music video for someone. Can we do that?” Found’s response: “That’s perfect!” Projection mapping has become a marker for the savvy media watcher, it’s intricate and arresting, but even though it’s a new experience to many viewers, there are already tropes and clichés within the form. Found isn’t interested in perpetuating those tired formulas. “Let’s do something different,” Joe told MTV and his team. And then Labrinth came into the mix. Labrinth is an English musician, singer, and producer, whose multidisciplinary work is taking Europe by storm. His single, “Let It Be” already had a music video (created by friends of Found), but they wanted to put something in the middle of Glasgow on the gothic and ornate City Chambers Building to kick off the MTV Europe Music Awards. The building’s unique architecture presented a specific set of challenges, but because of Found’s experience they were able to work with the building rather than against it. “The challenge was the canvas itself,” Joe explains. “We’ve learned to treat projection mapping in a way that it’s not a screen. You’re not creating content for a screen. So we’ve learned that there are things that don’t work on specific buildings. So we designed this kind of graphic look with this idea that Labrinth was orchestrating a type of light show.” By working with the architecture, what could have been a liability was turned into a strength as Found used architectural elements to better tell Labrinth’s story. The only downfall to projection mapping is if you’re not there, you really only get to hear about it. There are filmed versions, but it’s not quite like being there. We can appreciate it from afar, but the experience has passed. For Joe and Found, that’s a part of the form. Joe says about the ephemeral nature of the discipline: “It doesn’t change our approach. Even though it was only being shown once, it was a moment. And we felt it was a good story for us to be involved.”  
  • 11.18.14   Jonas Fredwall Karlsson Meets The Master Marine

    A photographer’s job is to highlight their subject. To eke out the personality of the person they’re shooting and put it front and center. Some subjects are huge characters, soaking up the limelight and putting it all on display. Others are quieter and have a more steely energy and need to be coaxed to reveal a little more of themselves. Jonas Fredwall Karlsson approaches everyone equally. They’re all people. “You try to connect in some kind of way and find their language so you can equal yourself,” he explains. “I listen to their story and try to make them as comfortable as possible, whoever they are, whatever they’re doing, and wherever they are.” It’s about establishing a personal connection and letting that be the vehicle to capture an authentic energy in the photograph. For his latest shoot with Vanity Fair, Jonas caught up with Nick Sloane from Sloane Marine, who has been tasked with salvaging the Costa Concordia. The Costa Concordia broke into an international news item when it ran aground off the coast of Isola del Giglio in 2012. The massive ship has been there ever since, threatening to wreak havoc on the surrounding environment and act as a beacon for the detractors of the cruise industry. Jonas was given a quick rundown of what’s been happening on Nick’s floating dock that acts as a base of operations for the salvage operation. Nick is a very busy man, and his crew has been working 24 hours a day without pause to get the Cost Concordia afloat, but the crew did take just enough time out to give Vanity Fair an idea of how this two year wrong is being righted. “They have four or five divers down there all the time, they have guys watching monitors seeing what they’re seeing, keeping track of their hearts and breathing, and oxygen and all that from above,” Jonas explains. “It’s really high tech. It’s a very serious and very dangerous thing they’re doing. And nobody had done this before, at this scale. This is the biggest ever.” The gravity of the situation is not lost on Nick. The 52 year old South African travels around the world working on impossible projects like this. He’s become one of the most trusted names in the marine world, correcting errors – both avoidable and unavoidable – around the globe, entering into All Or Nothing agreements. Either he succeeds, or he doesn’t get paid. As Jonas tells it, when the Costa Concordia assignment came up, the world was against him. Jonas remarked, “A lot of people said,  ‘It will not be possible, it will crack, it will fall apart.’ And Nick’s take on that was ‘I think it will work.’” It ultimately did, and what Jonas captured for us is this hard and focused man on the deck of his base of operations, next to an unbelievable achievement in marine engineering. (Jonas was also on hand when the Costa Concordia first sank, we've included a photo from that original visit.)
  • 11.19.14   Amy Taylor and Gregg Hubbard Layer it On

    It’s getting cold and that means we are solidly in layering season. Layering is about being dynamic and flexible, evolving with the weather and the changing temperatures, while keeping a look fresh and comfortable. Refinery29, who always has their pulse on current trends and needs, is acutely aware of how challenging layering can be. Layering means more articles of clothes need to fit squarely into one styled outfit. It must be a more forgiving look, while making room for diversity and shifts throughout the day as layers are added and taken away. And don’t forget the breadth makes room for plenty of self expression. What better way to express the fashion of layers than to set their shoot in an Amy Taylor layered utopia? Using huge sheets of paper, Amy constructed environments reflecting the layers in the clothes on the set, bringing that energy across the entire image. Her designs set the tone, creating a world with total context for the fashion. Gregg Hubbard was also on hand, completing the layered extravaganza. Adding volume and texture to the models hair, it’s a full three dimensional, immersive look at this theme. These two artists provided the thematic space to tell Refinery29’s stories. It’s seamless, almost invisible work, to ensure the story is told well.
B&A Instafeed. Images From Our Artists & Community
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