Monthly Archives: December 2010

Top 5 everything of 2010

Once again, as hard as it is to believe, another year has almost already passed by and it seems like yesterday I was having dinner with the family at my uncle’s house for New Year’s day for this new decade. The more time passes by, the more it seems to fly away at the speed of light, and I’m again left wondering if this year will be the one where I’ll have time to do everything I’ve planned for the coming 365 days. Of course, it will not happen, but, before this year ends, I did manage to find some time to look back on 2010 and realize how good a year this has been. And, since the only things I’ve seen on social networks in the past days are Top 10s and Recaps, I decided I’d make my own Top 5. Ok, I’ve cheated on some categories, some are top 5 with honorable mentions, others may contain only 3 winners, but, you get the point.

This is of course my own personal opinion. No stats, no results, no expert analysis, just my own totally subjective, sometimes biased opinion. Let’s start it off.

BEST ALBUMS

1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I said it recently, and I stand with my first impression, this is the album of the year, and critics (aka Rolling Stone Magazine) seem to agree. The creativity, the originality and the “I don’t care what you think of me” attitude that emanates from this album make it impossible to ignore. Mr. West has taken his music one step further and created a sound of his own, and for that, you get my gold medal Kanye.

2. Eminem – Recovery
Wouldn’t it have been for Kanye, first place would have gone to Mr. Mathers. Recovery is the return of the king, the road to redemption fulfilled for Eminem. It is his most mature album yet, and I think I’ll dare to say it also is his best album. It may not contain as many classics as The Eminem Show or The Marshall Mathers LP, but the overall ride on which Eminem takes you with his latest album is definitely something no Em fan has ever witnessed before. A must for any fan of hip-hop.

3. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
The Montreal band proved to the world that they are a force to be reckoned with this album. Their sound is unique, the lyrics are profound, and the overall experience that you go through while listening to The Suburbs is definitely something special that not many bands can match. For me, this is an instant classic, something that my iTunes play-count can start to fear.

4. Jònsi – Go
The Sigur Ros vocalist/guitarist released a solo album back in April, and I did not listen to it until earlier this month. To be honest, I’ve lonely listened to it twice, so I don’t feel like I know this album too well, but I couldn’t leave it off this list. This is musical ecstasy. Whether they make you joyful or nostalgic, Jonsi’s exotic melodies are sure to spark a lot of emotions inside you. It is hard to describe, so the best thing I can say is, buy it and let yourself be immersed by the sound of it, you will not regret it.

5. B.o.B. – The Adventures of Bobby Ray
Probably the hardest position to fill, because the list of contenders was endless, but B.o.B. had to have his place in my 2010 year. I listened to this album countless times during my trip to Costa Rica, and it just has a special feel every time I listen to it. Even if this is his first LP, B.o.B. shows an incredible maturity as an artist, mixing super catchy commercial pop songs with more dramatic, serious tracks on which the lyrics are certain to make some hip-hop veterans jealous. The artists collaborations are original (Hayley Williams, Rivers Cuomo…) and it is just a good, easy to listen album. Plus, Airplanes has to be one of the greatest hip-hop songs released in the past 5 years, so for all that, I raise my hat to B.o.B. who fills in the last position of my top 5 for albums.

Honorable mentions
Bonobo – Black Sands
Misteur Valaire – Golden Bombay
Travie McCoy – Lazarus

BEST MOVIES
Important notice: I have been a total failure as a 2010 movie-watcher. I’ve watched countless “classics” on my To-See list, but I’ve just not been into the new movies this year. I haven’t seen Social Network, Black Swan, Toy Story 3… So, this is of course my own best of, where I’m sure some of the movies I’ve just named would have had their place had I seen them.

1. Inception
How can this not be the best movie of the year ? It is a cinematic masterpiece, incredibly intelligent, well shot and brilliantly acted. Christopher Nolan raised the bar to another level with a very original story, brought to life by shining performances from DiCaprio and company. An instant classic in every genre, a movie that will be talked about for years.

2. The Killer Inside Me
Western movies are more and more noticeable nowadays since they are becoming more of a rare thing, but this one really slipt under my radar. I watched it just a few weeks ago, and I really enjoyed it. Casey Affleck is incredible, to the point he should easily be nominated for an Oscar. The mood of the movie is scary, tense, and the story really sucks you in. It is brutal, violent, sometimes disturbing, but always intriguing. A must-see, at least only to witness Affleck’s brilliance.

3. The Book of Eli
This movie did not get very good reviews, as do all of Denzel Washington’s films for the last 5 years. But I think critics were a bit harsh and have failed to see the strong points that this movie has to offer. It is visually flawless, every image is sure to make you wow at your screen. It might not be Denzel’s best performance, but you can’t say so for Gary Oldman’s. He just shines in his role as the bad guy and shows he’s one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood nowadays. Plus, the fight scenes, and especially the gun-fights are masterfully directed and now have a place in my personal best combat scenes in cinema history. Plus the ending is just incredibly surprising.

4. Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski’s latest film has a sort of Woody Allen feel, with endless dialogues and a fairly old style of editing, which make it stand out. The intrigue is good and the always entertaining Ewan McGregor is very good in the leading role. Not your typical Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s really worth a watch.

5. The Town
I rented this movie 4 hours before writing this blog post, as it was, surprisingly, on most 2010 best-of lists. You should have seen my level of skepticism before watching this film. I’m really not a Ben Affleck fan, but I decided to give it a chance. Surprise of the year for me. This is a very entertaining thriller, in which Affleck shows talent as both director and actor. The acting award in the film will definitely go to Jeremy Renner though, who is so believable in his role that you could think the producers found a guy from the projects to play in their movie. You won’t fall in love with the other characters, but they show some kind of depth, enough to make you enjoy this film, along with its good heist scenes.

MUSIC VIDEOS

1. Jay-Z – On to the Next One
One might wonder why this is taking the pole position, and it is for only one reason: It’s a music video. Hurricane and Runaway are closer to short films than music vids. Jay-Z’s video, directed by Sam Brown, portrays a funeral through multiple black and white, highly aesthetic images. It was the first music video released in 2010, and in my opinion, it is still the best. It is a shame it didn’t win any awards at the VMA, but let’s be honest, the VMAs are pretty much meaningless. Jay-Z proved once again his immense artistic talent by releasing a video of this caliber, and the 41-year-old rapper also proved he’s here to stay.

2. Kanye West – Runaway (extended edition)
Here it is, the video that will be at the top position of everybody’s list in 2010, and it deserves it. While to me this is a short film, it redefined what music videos are. It is artistic, different, colorful. It delivers powerful messages, and it is accompanied by one of the best soundtracks ever. As I said in my previous blog post, this is sure to make history with the likes of Thriller.

3. 30 Seconds to Mars – Hurricane
Another video that should be considered a short film, Hurricane will probably have its place in history also. While less visually appealing than Runaway, Hurricane is controversial, sexually offending, twisted, and beautiful. A video that the American public is not ready to see at all (and it got banned for that), and because of that, Jared Leto’s band deserves a lot of recognition. They dared, and succeeded in creating commotion.

4. Eminem – Love the way you lie
Eminem’s real comeback in the music video scene, because Not Afraid was definitely not it. This is also a controversial video that caused a heart stroke to America, because of its reference to domestic violence and dysfunctional relationships. Joseph Kahn used his enormous experience to direct a video that suits the song like few videos have been able to. The cinematography is amazing, Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan are good in their main roles and the Eminem/Rihanna duo just fills the screen with presence and intensity. One of the best videos of the year on all aspects.

5. Linkin Park – The Catalyst
Joe Hahn has slowly made the transition from turntablist to director for Linkin Park, and this change shows how much talent the guy has. He was a great DJ (he still is in fact) and is now one of my favorite director in the music video domain. His creativity is unmatched, and everything he does just fits the Linkin Park style beautifully. The Catalyst is no exception. The imagery is innovative, the editing is on-point and the Linkin Park guys really give one hell of a performance. Great use of slow motion throughout.

Honorable mentions
Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Linkin Park – Waiting for the End
B.o.B. – Airplanes

TV SHOWS

1. Breaking Bad – Season 3
Discovery of the year for me, TV-wise. A fresh, original concept with actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul playing two of the most fascinating characters to ever appear on TV. Be warned, this, like many other series, is highly addictive. Sometimes humorous, sometimes dramatic, and seldom highly violent, this show will get you through the whole set of emotions, and will also kill your social life, second warning here !

2. Entourage – Season 7
The second-to-last season of the series aired this summer, and deceived no fan. Vince, E, Drama, Turtle, and especially Ari were back in full force, with new relationships, new insults and new adventures. The dialogues were once again a work of genius, and Vince’s breakdown was amazingly put together. The Cameos were entertaining and the complicity between the characters was once again something so entertaining to watch that every episode made you wish you had their lives. If you haven’t started to watch Entourage at all, I also envy your life, because you’re in for 7 seasons of never -before-seen laughter and entertainment. Start now !

3. Sportscentre – Morning Show on TSN
Probably the most unexpected winner of my entire top 2010 list, but I couldn’t pass by it. Jay Onrait and Dan O’toole are the best start of my day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. They redefine sports news with their incredible sense of humour and amazing charisma. They don’t take themselves seriously at all, they’re spontaneous and it gives a whole other perspective to everyday sports news.

Honorable mentions
Mad Men

BEST ADVERTISEMENTS

1. Dulux – Let’s color
Adam Berg takes the prize two years in a row for me, with his masterpiece Carousel for Philips last year. The whole concept of this Dulux ad is so good that it goes beyond the final TV spot. The fact they used local people and gave them the chance to put some color back into their dull scenery is amazing, and the fact that they were able to render this live process into such a beautiful advertisement is just brilliant. This is advertisement at another level.

2. Nike – Write the Future
The biggest sports event in the world of course means, the best advertisements in the world, and W+K knew that they havd to give it their best shot, and they didn’t fail. This ad pictures the World Cup vibe with such epicness and bigger than nature reactions that it clearly makes it the best ad of the tournament. The overall idea is so clever and the production value is unbelievable.

3. Sussex Safer Roads – Embrace Life
A beautiful alternative to encourage people to always wear their seat belts, Embrace Life succeeded in doing what all the gory, violent ads about car accidents couldn’t. The ad created an enormous buzz on the web, and probably saved more lives today than any other commercial. The concept is so well-thought and the imagery is spectacular.

4. Gaz Metro – A Natural Evolution
It takes great patience and dedication to tackle a project like this one, but it takes incredible talent and vision to make a project like this one look as good as this. This entire ad, conceptualized by Sid Lee, was done in stop-motion over 4 nights and with more than 1500 pieces of chalk. The animation is unbelievably fluid considering it’s stop motion and the visual is spectacular. Another considerable piece by one of the most creative agencies in the world.

5. LG – Something Lurkingg
One of the toughest spot on which to deliberate, the final slot of my entire top 2010 goes to the very recent LG ad, created by Y&R and the masters of animation, Psyop. Read a couple of posts prior to this one to know how amazed I was by this ad.

Honorable mentions
Adidas – Cantina 2010
Sony – Eye Candy
Audi – The Art of Progress
BBC – Honk If You’re Human
AT&T – Rethink Possible

This is it ! Probably the most time I’ve ever invested in a blogpost. I hope, even if you don’t agree 100% with me, that this will make you discover some gems in the media domain and give you things to entertain you during this one-to-two-week holiday that is coming up. This will most likely be my last blogpost of 2010, so in advance, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year !

The Tree of Life

Earlier this week, Terrence Malick, director of such films as The Thin Red Line, launched the trailer of his upcoming movie , The Tree of Life. This first trailer gives a glimpse of what the storyline will be, but is really more like a teaser, showcasing incredible images with a very powerful soundtrack.

IMDB’s synopsis reads “The story centers around a family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence.”, and the trailer definitely gives this overall impression, and also that we’ll see the eldest son during his adult years. This doesn’t look like a film that will be easy to watch, but this fact will most likely be largely compensated by the A+ cinematography.

If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time that Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are co-starring in a movie, but it seems they’ll probably not be interacting much as Sean Penn will play the later years of Brad Pitt’s son.

Very anxious to see this one.

Michael Bay’s encore for Victoria’s Secret

One year ago, Hollywood director Michael Bay directed a Christmas advertisement for Victoria’s Secret, and did a great job by incorporating his bigger-than-nature style in the ad, making it so big and cliché that it made it funny. Well, the woman lingerie brand seems to have been satisfied with last year’s ad, because they called Mr. Bay to do this year’s Holiday commercial again.

Say what you want about Michael Bay (and believe me, I probably have said worse myself), but the guy still directs some of the biggest movies budget-wise in the entire world, so he must have some kind of hidden talent, right? Well, I think we finally found it, and it lies in underwear commercials!

Bay just put together, from my point of view, the perfect underwear commercial from both a male and female perspective. The setups are majestic, the lighting effects are out of this world and the girls are just pristine. From Adriana Lima, to Lily Aldridge, to Candice Swanepoel, macho-me would say this is some Sterling Silver quality meat in this advertisement. I think any girl looking at this ad can’t help herself but envying the glamorous environments and styles in which these more-than-perfect models are set in, and every guy in the world just wants his girlfriend to look as badass and sexy as the Victoria’s Secret angels. The fast-paced editing and rock-electronica music is also very male-oriented, making the commercial an instant success to the man-market.

My personal favorite setups are clearly the windowed-space with huge white curtains falling from the ceiling, the millionaire-mansion with intense strobe lights and of course, the in-your-face roses throw from the girl in black underwear. Those are just incredibly beautiful images that will tend to be overlooked because of the beauty of the models, but I congratulate you Mr. Bay on a job well done. You’ve proved the world wrong, once again.

Here are some behind-the-scenes videos for you to enjoy also:

Behind the scenes interview for Swix.tv

I recently did some work for Swix, who are releasing Swix.tv this January. They asked me to do the introduction for their webisodes, and I figured I might as well make a little behind the scenes video to show a bit how I work. I’ll release the full version with the music later on, when Swix.tv actually launches.

I’ll try to do more videos like this in the future, just so you guys always have an idea of how I see and create my projects. Now the only question is, did my hair get hit by a freaking train during this interview ?

Psyop for LG

I’m going to have to go ahead and steal Motionographer.com‘s title, and say that Psyop just dropped another instant classic with this spot. The studio has its fair share of masterpieces in their portfolio already, and it’s easy to praise their new work and forget the incalculable quality pieces they have released in the past, but I think this one will definitely stand on top of their selection.

When teaming up one of the world’s most creative agencies with the most successful animation studio and one of the biggest production house, expectations become sky high. Y&R agency in New York, with the help of Psyop and Smuggler, turned a living room in a grandiose motion picture universe, and succeeded in meeting those expectations.

The result of this strong collaboration is a visual masterpiece that is backed by an incredibly creative concept. The amazing idea behind it all is supported by near-perfect 3D animation and astounding sound design.

A commercial that will no doubt generate a lot of buzz, and award nominations.

Plenty Humanwear – The Natural Path

Two years ago, when I first heard that Greg Desjardins was starting a new clothing brand, I have to be honest with everyone, I told myself “not another guy who thinks he can just start printing t-shirts and become a clothing brand”.

Only after speaking with him for hours about his project did I understand that Plenty Humanwear was really going to be something else. I had never seen such devotion, perfectionism and attention to detail in someone starting a project. The idea behind the project, the branding, the prints, the designs…everything seemed so professional that one could hardly guess this was an emerging brand held by (at that time) only one guy with the help of a few people. Of course, this hard-working attitude eventually sparked a lot of interest in me, and I felt like I wanted to be part of the project.

At the end of this summer, we were having diner at a friend’s house, and I decided to offer Greg my help if he needed anything video-related for Plenty. A few weeks later, he called me back and we had our first meeting with his new associate and long-time friend, Pierre-Nicolas Lessard. Honestly, after that first meeting, I felt kind of insecure. The guys really had a very defined idea about the video they wanted to produce as a teaser for their upcoming Summer 2011 collection, called The Natural Path. They wanted to do a first-person abstract short film demonstrating the contrasts between the urban scenery and natural landscapes. Let’s face it, I tend to have a more corporate style, even in my personal projects, and I tend to have a very photographic style, where the camera doesn’t move much and the framing is 50% of the shot’s quality.

I was about to embark on a project filmed entirely with a Glidecam and a Canon T2i, without any actors except the main character’s point of view, which was actually me featuring Pierre-Nic’s arms. As insecure as I felt, I was also really looking forward to this challenge that would make me step out of my comfort zone.

We shot the film over 4 days, in non-summer-like weather, which was our biggest challenge. The leaves were already starting to change color and the sky was always cloudy. We had to make sure every shot could be portrayed as a middle-of-July image, to really fit the 2011 Summer collection. We managed to do pretty good in that domain, and with a bit of color grading we were able to get warmer tones that the original images didn’t provide us.

The editing had its challenges too. Going from city to nature back and forth without losing the viewer’s attention was hard, and each transition and flash had to be thought through. And after that, the color grading between the incredibly different sceneries was a tedious job too. We had to make sure every shot felt like it belonged in the same “universe” even if they were filmed in totally different locations, different times of the day, and also simply, on different days.

In the end, I think the feel of the video is exactly what the Plenty guys were looking for, and for my part, I think I succeed the challenge that was set for me !

**You can see behind the scenes photos and an article at: http://www.plenty-humanwear.com/summer-2011-video-making-of/