Monthly Archives: June 2010

OFFF Paris titles

The NAB is to people working in the broadcast and video industry what OFFF festival is to new media artists. Being held in Paris this year, the festival features conferences, exhibits, workshops and a lot more appealing venues for digital-media savvy people. But one thing about the festival stands out every year, and has become somewhat of a tradition. It’s the opening title sequence. Just like for a movie, the titles present everyone who will be contributing to the festival.

Every year, a different studio is selected for the creation of those titles, and this year’s lucky studio was none other than The Mill. I think I’m not exaggerating by saying that everyone had sky-high expectations for this animated intro, because The Mill is one of the biggest players in the game. Well, when you’re such a big player, your job is to deliver, and The Mill did nothing short of that. This title sequence is just sublime. This is art direction at its finest, and that is what impressed me the most coming from a studio who generally does more VFX-oriented work. The colors, music, animation and ambience blend perfectly together to create an abstract short film taking place in an imaginary world.

I’ll also take the occasion to mention that Julien Vallée, a young designer from Montreal, presented the title sequence at the festival, which I doubt is not considered as the highest honor you could have at this event. Congrats to him.

PS: Take the time to check out titles from past years, they’re pretty much all amazing.

Mountain Dew and P. Rod

While watching parts of the Alli Dew Tour this weekend (congrats to PLG for his win by the way !!), I spotted this ad from Mountain Dew featuring Paul Rodriguez. The ad introduces a contest where 35 shops across the US will have to design a Dew can, and the winner will hit the shelves once the contest is over. P.Rod teamed up with Don Pendleton to create his own can. The 30-second spot shows Paul Rodriguez skating around LA with some of Pendleton’s art popping all around him. I have no idea who directed or produced this ad, so I’ll try to look into it in the coming days.

UPDATE: I found on Motionographer.com that Evan Dennis from Shilo was behind this great spot, teamed up with Tracy Locke agency.

The compositing is really well made and Pendleton’s art really shines all around. Besides the compositing, the cinematography is great too, and that makes me wonder why this quality of production is not in every single skateboard movie out there. There are overwhelming budgets nowadays in the skateboard industry, and 90% of the movies we see have the same old fisheye-in-the-staircase cinematography that has been around since the old Plan B movies. I’m not going to start a rant here, but seeing this ad should open the skate producers eyes…

Anyway, there is a cool article and interview with Pendleton on Skateboarding.com to check out also.

Since I’m in a skateboard mood, I’ll take the time to dig out an old P.Rod ad from Nike that I really like, with some behind the scenes footage.

Prologue designs ESPN’s packaging for the World Cup

Since we’re deeply surrounded by World Cup news everyday, I decided to join in and post this delightful montage from Prologue. They produced the packaging for ESPN’s TV coverage of the event, and they did a damn good job at it I must say ! The various idents they’ve put together really reflects the exoticism of South Africa and its culture. Vibrant colors, warm lighting and grungy textures make you feel like you’re on the other side of the Equator right away. Another bulls-eye for Prologue !

Eminem’s Recovery review

It’s become almost a habit for rap artists to have their albums leaked on the Internet before their official release dates. Marshall Mathers is of course the latest artist to be a victim of the world wide web. His highly-anticipated album, Recovery, scheduled to release on June 22nd, was released earlier this week on the web. Is it a marketing stunt or an honest mistake from someone in Eminem’s entourage ? We’ll probably never know, but what is sure though, is that Eminem’s new album is absolutely amazing.

His last release, Relapse, received harsh criticism, and it deserved it. Eminem really delivered a sub-par album, and Encore, the one before that, was also a let down compared to his previous masterpieces. Slim Shady does his Mea Culpa on Recovery, admitting that his 2 last albums did not live up to the expectations, and he backs it up with some incredible beats and lyrics.

The album starts off with Cold Wind Blows, a track that awfully sounds like a Dre beat, but the credits say that Just Blaze produced it. This satiric song introduces the good old Em into this new 17-track CD. Then the album carries right into Talkin’ 2 Myself, featuring Kobe. The song takes the satire away and presents deep and emotional lyrics, which is one of my favorite songs on the album. Further down the tracklist, you’ll find incredible collaborations, including Won’t Back Down featuring Pink, which is probably the most unexpected artist to ever feature on an Eminem track. Love the way you lie is another emotional song with Rihanna singing the chorus, adding a lot of feeling to the track. Those two tracks are sure to invade radio waves in the coming weeks.

Lyric-wise, Marshall Mathers proves once again that he is probably the best lyricist to ever be born on this planet. The rhymes are incredible, his flow is unmatched and the honesty and the message delivered throughout his words are sure to make you rewind the songs a couple of times and give you shivers.

My expectations were sky-high for this album after Em dissed his own Relapse album on Not Afraid, his first single. Well, he definitely knows what the expression walk the talk means. This is an amazing album that is sure to make die-hard Slim Shady fans believe in their hero again after a couple of let downs. Eminem is back, stronger than ever.

The iPhone 4

Yesterday, Steve Jobs held a keynote at the WWDC, and what was expected from everyone was finally unveiled in Jobs’ presentation: the iPhone 4. Once again, Apple takes its already state of the art technology, and pushes it further. With multi-tasking, the device will become closer and closer to a portable computer. The iPhone 4 will also shoot 720p HD video, and the camera will now be 5 mega-pixels. There is also a built-in LED flash to take pictures in dark areas.

Other than that, the phone also comes with a front camera, which allows video calling, which Apple calls FaceTime. With the touch of a button, users will be able to switch from the front to the back camera, enabling callers to show what they see in real time then switch back to video calling. They’ve also implemented the Retina display, which is supposed to be the best display ever created for a phone.

They’ve also put a new A4 chip in the phone, which is super powerful and they’ve also made the battery larger to make it last longer, which is something iPhone users have been complaining about in the past.

But, there’s the design. I haven’t held it in my hand yet, so it’s hard to judge, but it looks less ergonomic than the 3G and 3Gs. We’ll have to see.

Still, this looks to be an incredible machine, and again, it was marketed masterfully. I don’t know how many people followed the keynote live, but they’ve already got a quarter-million views on YouTube for the iPhone 4 video, and counting ! Never will you see such buzz around an electronic device. Apple are the best marketing company of the 2000s, hands down.

Sid Lee shows once again why they’re one of the best with Adidas

Wieden+Kennedy unleashed a viral tsunami when they released Nike’s Write the Future ad for the upcoming world cup. So, it was only a matter of time before Adidas counter-attacked with Sid Lee, probably one of the most creative agencies ever to come out of the province of Quebec.

Going in a totally other way, Sid Lee partnered with Partizan and The Mill, two huge players in the production and post-production domain, to create a remix of the Star Wars’ bar scene. The ad, or should I call it a short-film, features Beckham, Daft Punk, Noel Gallagher, Snoop Dogg and bunch of other celebrities. The compositing of the original Star Wars images with the images they recreated is really a thing of beauty. The lighting is perfectly similar and the color grading makes the fusion of the footage seemless. The script and scenario are funny and fresh and make you want to look at this ad over and over.

One thing I have to point out, is that The Mill was in charge of post-production on both this, AND Nike’s Write the Future. I don’t know how they managed to do that, but there must have been a lot of coffee and Red Bull drank at their offices in the last months. Huge props to them.

So, the battle is on between Adidas and Nike, who’ll get the most views by the end of the world cup…

Ubisoft nails it with Shaun White’s trailer

I’m not saying this just because they’re a big client of ours at Nova Film, but I’ve come to develop an immense respect for Ubisoft over the past couple of years. The way they market their stuff gets out of the mold that other video game companies have built, and this Shaun White’s Skateboarding trailer is just another proof of that. The trailer doesn’t show a single image of the game itself, and still it gets you so stoked on the game.

The VFX is absolutely flawless. I’ve looked at the trailer 3 times now, and I just can’t seem to find one flaw in terms of compositing or modeling. It is well shot, well directed, and has such a good, laid-back vibe. I can really see this video relate to skateboarders, which is something hard nowdays for mainstream companies, since the skateboard lifestyle is so trashy and “rebel-looking”.

I know Shaun White’s Snowboarding had a hard time with critics, and I hope the people at Ubisoft have made the necessary corrections to the skateboard game to make it live up to the expectations they just created. One thing for sure though, if the game doesn’t sell, it will not be the marketing department’s fault.

PS: I can’t find the credits for the ad, so if someone knows them, please post them in the comment and I’ll make sure to update the post.

UPDATE: I asked Emile Gauthier from Ubisoft Quebec who created the ad, and he pointed me towards Cutwater San Francisco. Check out their website, it’s one of my favorite from all the ad agencies I know (and believe me, I know a lot !). They have a very cool case-study section that is worth checking out.