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Bombay Bicycle Club tour visuals

Posted: August 21st, 2014 | Author: Antonia Wilson | Filed under: Art, Digital, Graphic Design, Illustration, Music Video / Film | Comments Off

Bombay Bicycle Club's hypnotic visuals for their recent tour made for a sensory-stimulating show, and they stood-out as the new experiential players at major festivals this summer including dreamy Suffolk weekender Latitude and the hedonistic paradise of Glastonbury. We talk to filmmaker Anna Ginsburg and video designer Adam Young about what it took to create the impressive stage aesthetic and why intensifying the audience's live show tingle is so important.

As part of the tour for Bombay Bicycle Club's latest, critically acclaimed 2014 album, So Long, See You Tomorrow, Ginsburg and Young, in collaboration with the band and lighting designer Squib Swain, created a series of hand-drawn looping images for 12 tracks.

Conversations began in part with the album cover (see below), which was designed by London studio La Boca, and inspired by the work of nineteenth century photographer and stop-motion pioneer Eadweard Muybridge, and his work using a zoopraxiscope - a device created in 1879 for motion-picture projection. In particular the band were struck by Muybridge's walking man cycle, which inspired the album artwork (and also features in the video for Alright Now), depicting a male and a female walking in concentric circles under the moon and sun.

"We thought this kind of ties in with the theme of loops there's a lot of cycles in the lyrics and the lyrical themes. It just worked." says vocalist Jack Steadman in a video on their website. "We started to base our artwork on animation. The front cover itself can be animated if you spin it around. It was only natural that we were going to try to incorporate that into our live show."

Ginsburg, who studied traditional animation at Edinburgh College of Art, had previously worked on three music videos for the band, adding hand-drawn elements to live action in Luna and Carry Me, and creating a BAFTA-winning stop-motion video for How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep. And Young studied lighting design at Central School of Speech and Drama, but soon realised he was more interested in video design, working mainly in theatre and opera since, with this project being his first departure into tour visuals.

"We turned up to their studio one day with books and pages and various different things and went through what would and wouldn't be possible. We had listened to the album, and they had sent a short brief with the type of thing they wanted to get across with the visual side of their tour," explains Young. "There was definitely the brief that it should look hand-drawn and shouldn't look like it was easy to produce on a computer. It should feel like a lot of time and effort has gone into making it, and shouldn't just feel like normal touring graphics. It should have some heart and meaning to it."

(Work in progress images)

Although it was the first time the duo had worked together, Ginsburg and Young's skills complimented each other perfectly. "It was a great collaboration, as he's got this real technical knowhow in terms of understanding how the projections will work, and because I'm so traditional, sometimes my process can be quite crazy impossible in terms of time. So once I'd figured out an animated loop, he'd often find ways of making it last longer in terms of content," Ginsburg says.

Alongside the duo, a small team of four illustrators helped to produce several thousands of images that made up hundreds of loops. These were drawn directly into Photoshop using Wacom Graphics Tablets, and created using the same Photoshop brush and line weight, with careful attention paid to stylistically match all the drawings so they appeared to be from the same hand, with Ginsburg directing and working on specific loops that required more design such as Feel, which features a snake charmer's snake, linking in with the old Bollywood song sampled in the track.

Young used Adobe After Effects for the animation process, which was almost plug-in free, and created the animations in seven circular disk templates that could be used for individual animations or as one long screen.

From storyboarding to final results, the project took an intense six weeks, with the team primarily working from studio based under a railway arch in Hoxton. Part of the process was ensuring one unified design direction, and creating bespoke content that fitted the themes and feelings of each track, which spanned from psychedelic morphing animals to dancing figures, to narrative based sections and even the band members' faces.

"We set ourselves design rules before we even started thinking about the ideas. It's something that we do quite a lot in theatre, to try to make a show look uniform across three hours, rather than lots of random ideas," Young explains. "We ended up with a very narrow colour palette, inspired by the album cover. And as much as it's going to be displayed on a digital form, we tried to pick colours that don't look too 'digital', to fit in with the hand-drawn organic feel."

Another rule involved the looping matching the music: "It linked nicely into the Muybridge style of 12 frame loop cycles, with everything looping over 12, 16, or 14 frames throughout the show," says Young.

And another restricted content to people and nature over inanimate objects or patterns: "There's so many tour graphics that are just swirly patterns - we were trying to make it about something real and trying to get across real emotions," he says. "You see a lot of shows that have really generic video, with a big LED wall and stock video content that's vaguely been arranged in time with the music. But I think people are turning their backs on that now, and starting to pay for bespoke content that actually means something relevant to the band and the music, rather than something that can be cheaply purchased off the shelf."

"I don't think abstract stuff is completely lost, but I think listening is the key," says Ginsburg. "If you're going to do something abstract make it really lyrically or rhythmically synced to the track. If it's just random, it's like wallpaper, or a screensaver - there's no point."

The resulting visuals are synced to perfection, played live using Timecode, so the music on stage corresponds with what the audience see and hear. It is this audio-visual, multi-sensory live experience that more and more musicians and their collaborative creatives are starting to experiment with, adding in another sensory layer to the performance, in hope of intensifying the live show euphoria felt by the audience.

"I think its going to become expected, the norm, that when you buy a ticket to a tour, you expect a certain level of visual stimulation. You could say it's a bit of a curse, because you don't want to be distracted from live musicians. But at the same time, if it's used well, it can heighten emotional reactions, or stimulate them," says Ginsburg. "In a climate where we are used to having visual stimulation all the time, via the internet or via YouTube, our attention spans are getting shorter too. And you're more likely to make money from touring than record sales now, so the prices of tours are going up, and in turn our expectations are going to go up."

"We are going to see more and more of it. When someone pays to go to a festival or a gig, they are expecting more than the just seeing the band performing - they are expecting a full show," says Young. "It largely comes down to money, and bands being willing to put money into their shows - to initially produce something that people will want to come and see, and I think it's going to become increasingly important."

Ginsburg says this is the biggest budget she has ever had for a project, and recognises a continual shift towards money being spent on live shows rather than music videos. "To be honest I don't see budgets for music videos increasing ever again - it's going to be about being ingenious and economic when directing music videos. People will be more willing to pump resources into tour visuals, because its what makes money," says Ginsburg. "I think there's always going to be a place for music video. But instead of making one stand-out viral video, artists are now more inclined to want everything they put on YouTube to have visual content, so quality might go down. But I think quality of live shows will increase."

It's is often the sense of a 'visual hyperreality' that wows the audience - where real and simulated elements merge, and artists push the boundaries of the live experience. "Personally I love Beyoncé, and her absolute commitment to the design idea, and seeing it through to the extreme," says Young, referencing her performance for 2011 MTV Awards using interactive projection and strict choreography. "It's artists like that who buy into the idea so whole heartedly that they will shape an entire show around it."

"I'd love to do the visuals for something super crazy like MIA or Dizzy Rascal or someone who takes risks visually - an artist who doesn't take themselves too seriously, because you could do some really out-there stuff," says Ginsburg.

So as budgets and priorities change, so too does the way we consume and share our experiences of music. Long gone is the era of MTV, and the visual emphasis has shifted towards the audience's experience being a key element for a musician's success - whether a live encounter or through sharing the spectacle.

"There's that other layer to the live shows - the more people get out their phones because they think its worthy of filming, the more promotion you get," says Ginsburg. "On the [non-festival] tour, the visuals come in half way though the set, there a little sleeping man that rises with dandelions either side of him, and as he appears, at that moment, a sea of iPhones appeared. Normally, I just watch my work on a tiny screen - just that so many people are interested, it was a cool moment," says Ginsburg.

"I think it's part of it - after the shows it you search Twitter or Instagram, its full of pictures of the band with projection," says Young. "It's a nice feeling that people have noticed it and think of it being part of the show and part of the Bombay Bicycle Club experience that they've seen that night."

Favorites for the duo include Home by Now, depicting a female figure dancing, which was one of the animations that had been through several changes from a clubby dancing vibe to Victorian women twirling with parasols and back again (initial sketches and final animation shown above).

"It was one of the tracks that we wanted to do something playful with. We had this Beyoncé thing happening and made it really silly," says Ginsburg. "Some of the visuals are trying to communicate that euphoric, generally laid-back ambience that's so characteristic of Bombay Bicycle Club. But this is the only one I've heard with a slightly hip-hop beat so we thought it would be funny."

Carry Me was another favourite, often used as the finale, with dancing figures and faces in black and white, flashing to match the extensive build up of strobing. It is moments like this and other simple techniques like animating stars falling at speed, that intensify the audience's experience. There was certainly something pretty epic about this as the sun went down at Latitude - the timing was just right, and the skin-tingling energy spread from screen and stage, out across the field.

"There's something spectacular about festivals," says Ginsburg. "There was a moment when I saw the show at Glastonbury, and during Home By Now there was a laugh. It was a career highlight for me - hearing people actually react and being able to hear their reaction to your work on that kind of scale was really cool."

These are the type of visuals that work particularly well in a festival setting. The fact that they 'mean something' as the duo describe, seems to encourage a stronger connection between the audience and the band. Maybe it's the heady atmosphere, the throng of a massive crowd, when eyes are wider and ears more eager - the environment melds perfectly with audio-visual delights on this scale.

Inspiration images: (top row:) Eadweard Muybridge; (second row:) Suehiro Maruo Molg H; Johannes Kepler; (thrid row:) Katie Scott; (bottom row:) From The Japanese Popstars Let Go video; Luke Pearson.

The Animations

 

www.annaginsburg.co.uk

www.mradamyoung.co.uk

www.bombaybicycleclubmusic.com

Show photos: Scott Davies (Brighton Dome). Video by LoveLive


Can you help solve a Sherlock Holmes mystery?

Posted: August 15th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Books, Music Video / Film | Comments Off

A scene from A Study in Scarlet (1914) directed George Pearson. © BFI National Archive

George Pearson's 1914 production of A Study in Scarlet was the first film to feature Sherlock Holmes – but it hasn't been seen in generations. Now, the Museum of London and the BFI are hoping the public can help track it down, in time for the museum's forthcoming exhibition on the much-loved detective...

Earlier this year another of Pearson's films, Love, Life and Laughter (1923) was rediscovered by EYE, the Dutch film archive. The director's A Study in Scarlet was the first film Pearson made for the Samuelson Manufacturing Company – it even featured one of the firm's employees, James Bragington, who, while not a professional actor, certainly looked every bit the part (below).

The silent film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story concerns a fictional murder which takes place on Brigham Young's trek across America with his Mormon followers. According to the Museum of London, the film was shot at Worton Hall studios and on location at Cheddar Gorge in Somerset and Southport Sands in Merseyside, which stood in for the Rocky Mountains and the Utah plains.

It is currently one of the oldest films on the BFI's 75 Most Wanted list.

James Bragington as Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet (1914) directed George Pearson. © BFI National Archive

A scene and on-set photograph from A Study in Scarlet (1914) directed George Pearson. © BFI National Archive

"Every archivist dreams of finding lost films," says Bryony Dixon, curator of Silent Film at the BFI National Archive.

"But this is a film of great importance. Sherlock Holmes is internationally renowned as a great detective. It would be wonderfully appropriate if a super-sleuth could help us celebrate the centenary of this film with a chance to see it."

If any CR blog readers have information on the missing film, please contact sherlockholmes@bfi.org.uk or use the hashtag #FindSherlock on Twitter.

Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die opens on October 17 at the Museum of London and runs until April 12 2015. More at museumoflondon.org.uk.


What’s On

Posted: August 7th, 2014 | Author: Antonia Wilson | Filed under: Advertising, Art, Books, Digital, Graphic Design, Illustration, Magazine / Newspaper, Music Video / Film, Photography, Type / Typography | Comments Off

CR's pick of current and upcoming exhibitions, design events and creative activities including Beacons Festival in Yorkshire; Jeremy Deller in Bristol; Lucy Sparrow's Corner Shop in London; illustrator Tom Frost and 3D paper artist Sarah Bridgland at Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Chicago Design Museum's first show in their new home, Starts/Speculations; and Antoine de Galbert's Le mur in Paris...


Beacons Festival
Heslaker Farm, Skipton
7-10 August 2014

The lovely Beacons Festival returns this weekend to the glorious rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales, drawing creative folk from around the country to enjoy another joyous weekend of music and art.

Joining Jon Hopkins, British Sea Power, Daughter, East India Youth, XXYYXX, Toy and a whole lot more from the music line-up, there's plenty of arts and culture alongside. Dawsons Arthouse returns, with a programme curated by independent Leeds book store and gallery Village, bringing together creatives from a variety of disciplines, including Olio Studio, Last Straw Collective, Preston is my Paris and Mates. There'll be exhibitions, Q&As, film screenings, and workshops including sign painting, screen-printing, zine making and street photography.

The Print Project also return with the chance to screenprint your own Beacons poster, plus have your portrait drawn in the Artomatic illustration photobooth. Keep an eye out for experimental audio-visual work Arborescent using ‘graphic scores'; outdoor visuals and projections from AV specialists Lumen; and other art installations and indie design stalls around the site.

Click here to check out our round-up from last year. It's set to be another magic weekend for party-goers and families alike. Day passes (which include a night's camping) and weekend tickets are still available here.

www.greetingsfrombeacons.com

 

Jeremy Deller: English Magic
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Until 21 Sep

Previously exhibited as part of the Venice Biennale exhibition last year, and following a stint at Walthamstow's William Morris Gallery, Deller's English Magic comes to Bristol. Mixing large-scale murals, installations, drawings, photographs, film and historical elements, the exhibition explores the artist's interest in the nature of English culture, from politics to Ziggy Stardust.

Deller also works with each venue to present the exhibition in a way that is specific to that space, with Bristol including paintings of the 1831 Bristol Riots by William James Miller and a display of taxidermy. After Bristol, the show will tour to Turner Contempory in Margate (11 Oct - 11 Jan).

www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/bristol-museum-and-art-gallery/whats-on/jeremy-deller-english-magic

 

Lucy Sparrow's Cornershop
19 Wellington Row, London E2 7BB
Until 31 Aug

Over 4,000 felt versions of grocery items fill this formally derelict shop in Bethnal Green - sweets, fish fingers, cigarettes, toilet roll, newspapers, condoms, ice lollies and more, even the till and functioning pricing have all been hand-sewn by Sparrow over the last seven months.

Everything is for sale, (but stays in the store for the month), and workshops run alongside, including fluffy drinks cans and stitched crisp making - click here for dates..

www.sewyoursoul.co.uk

 

Starts/Speculations: Graphic Design in Chicago Past and Future
Chicago Design Museum
Until 30 Sep

Having recently relocated to a new permanent home this June (after a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign), the Chicago Design Museum celebrates 100 years of design activity in Chicago with the first exhibition in the Block Thirty Seven space.

The show aims to be "an anthology of work from Chicago's graphic design legacy and a glimpse into how the tools we use to design and communicate could evolve and influence our interactions in the future". Archival pieces come from AIGA, Bauhaus Chicago Foundation Archives, and many others, plus a variety of new work from emerging design studios.

www.chidm.com

 

The Wild Collection by Tom Frost and Drawing with Paper with Sarah Bridgland
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Tom Frost until 7 Sep
Sarah Bridgland 13 Sep

There's always some lovely stuff to see and do at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in every season. Currently in Garden Gallery there's work from illustrator Tom Frost, with The Wild Collection, inspired by YSP's historic landscape and varied wildlife. The show includes collectors cards, school charts and specimen matchboxes, plus a limited edition screenprint, Ram Brand (above left), created especially for YSP.

Next month, join artist Sarah Bridgland for a workshop on 3D collages (above right), with shapes, objects and textures inspired by YSP gathered after a stroll around the park (below).

www.ysp.co.uk

 

 

Le mur (The wall)
La Maison Rouge - Fondation Antoine de Galbert, Paris
Until 21 Sep

As part of its tenth anniversary more than 1,200 works from founder Antione de Galbert's private collection are being presented in a 3m high, 200m long ribbon around the walls of the foundation.

A computer programme was used to curate the show, with the size and inventory number as data, with paintings, videos, sculptures, sketches and anything that can be hung collected together in one vast unending frieze. The unconventional presentation, mixing the likes of Anders Petersen, Eadweard Muybridge, Gilbert & George, Jan Fabre, Hans Bellmer, Jochen Gerner and many more, aims to "raise questions about the actual art of collecting, hanging, storing and showing art".

www.lamaisonrouge.org

 

To submit events for consideration, please email whatson@creativereview.co.uk


Mario Wienerroither’s Musicless Musicvideos

Posted: August 6th, 2014 | Author: Antonia Wilson | Filed under: Digital, Music Video / Film | Comments Off

Awkward dancing, creepy breathing and just plain weird antics from Bowie, Jagger and Presley to name a few... We chat with the man behind the magic of Musicless Musicvideos, YouTube sensation Mario Wienerroither.

Stripped of their original audio and remixed with reimagined sound effects and noises corresponding to the action, Wienerroither transforms classic pop music videos into ridiculous scenes where bands and musicians appear like strange, drunk people who you'd avoid in the street.

Occasionally uncomfortable but always humorous to watch, Wienerroither's editing somehow mutates any sense of cool, into try-hard, jarring spasms and awkward squeaky footsteps, accompanied by bizarre human grunts, sneezes, slurps and giggles.

It all started back in 1997, with a trailer for Men In Black. "Back in the 90s before university, I experimented a lot, making trailers, music videos and movies all without music and computer game trailers with new sound," he says.

After university, he came back to experimenting after seeing Queen's I Want to Break Free on TV with the sound muted. His final musicless version plays on the domestic element of the action, and is even more surreal than the original.

Narrative and location variation are important when it comes to choosing videos for the Musicless project - elements that help him to achieve more obscure results, where ambient sounds and actions are sharply cut. The musician's performance is also key, with any cool or edgy vibe quickly turning into something more ominous or simply laughable.

Check out Prodigy vocalist Keith Flint's flailing body with added signature sneezing in Breathe and Firestarter; Elvis Presley's aggressive on the spot scuffling and giggling in Blue Suede Shoes; and Bowie and Jagger - two serious dudes - completely losing it in Dancing in the Street, grunting and sidestepping as though they are in some kind of dodgy workout video.

Almost all of the sound effects are created by Wienerroither himself, working from a personal sound library that he has created over the last few years. When recording outside he uses a Tascam DR-100 field recorder, and in the studio he has a range of instruments, but says that the most important aspect is the editing software (Cakewalk Sonar) and various audio plugins.

"As soon I have the sounds on my computer the real creative work begins (since I record every sound several times and have to sort everything out), then I watch the video, and decide which sounds may fit best," he says. "There's always more than 200 single sample snippets per project, with multiple sound effect plugins running simultaneously over them."

Aside from the musicless projects, Wienerroither also produces sound design and music for films, ads, computer games and bands (through his company Digitalofen Audiobakery). And he's also recently been working on a new Silentless Movies project, adding sound and bits of dialogue to silent films.

"With Nosferatu I wanted to start this new Silentless Movies project. Since almost no-one watches silent movies anymore, I thought this would be a good way to make them somehow attractive for a younger audience again," he says. "My first one would have been a Charlie Chaplin movie, which I finished three months ago, but I couldn't get the permission to broadcast it as Chaplin's movies may only be accompanied by the full symphonic score and nothing else."

Response on YouTube to his work has been pretty immense so far, with many of the videos hitting over 1.5m views each, snd some only having been up for a month or so. But he's yet to hear from anyone featured so far: "It's a pity, but no. I hope they aren't offended," he says.

www.youtube.com/user/digitalofen

www.digitalofen.com

 

 


Daniel Wolfe returns to videos with Paolo Nutini promo

Posted: August 6th, 2014 | Author: Eliza Williams | Filed under: Music Video / Film | Comments Off

Daniel Wolfe has been off directing feature films lately, with his first feature Catch Me Daddy premiering at the Cannes Film Festival this year. But Wolfe originally cut his teeth in music videos for the likes of Plan B and he returns to the genre triumphantly this week, with a compelling short film for Paolo Nutini's new track Iron Sky.

Running at almost nine minutes long, Wolfe's film requires more dedication than your usual pop promo but in return for our time we are rewarded with a beautifully shot if bleak vision of the future, where people suffer agonies and addictions but are occasionally able to dance. Get watching people.

Credits:
Director: Daniel Wolfe
Production company: Somesuch&Co.


CR August iPad edition

Posted: August 6th, 2014 | Author: Creative Review | Filed under: Advertising, Art, Books, Digital, Graphic Design, Illustration, Magazine / Newspaper, Music Video / Film, Photography, Type / Typography | Comments Off

Incase you still haven't got your hands on the August issue of Creative Review - a CGI special - and you fancy some extra videos and exclusive images on the side, remember you can also get it on the iPad. You'll find all the print mag content and monograph, plus a whole lot more in Hi Res, our showcase gallery section, and CRTV, with some amazing moving image work, from interviews to animations to short documentaries and more...


The Features section of this month's issue includes designer Carl Burgess making a case for digital imagemaking as an antidote to our nostalgic obsession with the handmade; a look at Worship, a film for UNKLE by Warren du Preez, Nick Thornton Jones and the team at VFX house Glassworks, which pushes digital techniques to the limits (above right); photographer Giles Revell who uses hi-tech processes to re-present traditional artistic subjects; and self-taught 3D artist Ben Koppell (below left).

Plus, Disobedient Objects at the V&A; Digital Revolution at the Barbican (above right); Folk Art at Tate Britain; the history of RCA's Ark magazine; AKQA's Nick Turner on Google's new Material Design guidelines, and more...

In Hi Res you'll find posters from the Graphic Advocacy show (below left); unseen images from the Bowie / Duffy collaborative photo shoots (above left); Monotype full stops from the archives as part of the Century exhibition; photos playing with fakery and narrative from Joan Fontcuberta's Stranger Than Fiction show (above right); new work from illustrator Shaun Mills (below right); A Portrait of Hackney by photographer Zed Nelson, and highlights from Broomberg & Chanarin's Divine Violence exhibition.


CRTV includes an interview with typographer Erik Spiekermann; a behind-the-scenes look at Mikey Please's remarkable Marilyn Myller animation, plus the full film (below right); Stephan Jose's documentary about The Artisan Press; The Putter by Shaun Bloodworth, a portrait of one of the few remaining scissor manufacturers in the world (below left); Doug Hindson's Frisson, a tense, award-winning short about thrills; the Sandman as part of Stella Artois's Perfectionists series; and a selection of new CGI shorts from Supinfocom Arles 3D Animation School.

To submit work for consideration for CRTV or Hi Res, please email antonia.wilson@centaur.co.uk

For further info on the CR iPad app or to subscribe, click here.


Six Great New Music Videos

Posted: July 25th, 2014 | Author: Eliza Williams | Filed under: Music Video / Film | Comments Off

Looking to pass the time until the weekend? What better way than to catch up on some great new music videos – here are six of our recent faves.

First up is a comedy crime caper for Duke Dumont's new track Won't Look Back, directed by Tim Main, which features a gang of masked arm robbers making a getaway on pogo sticks, while being chased by cops on segways. Lovely stuff.

Director: Tim Main; Production company: Friend.

For those of you growing tired of twerking, I'm afraid the dance style shows no sign of disappearing just yet. Two of our videos this week are centred on the shaking derrière – first up is this promo for Basement Jaxx track Never Say Never, directed by Saman Kesh. Set in a Japanese factory, the film envisions a world where humans no longer dance. Their remedy? The 'twerk-bot'. Production company: Skunk.

Our second twerk-based vid is this film from director and animator Maxime Bruneel for Diplo + Swick's track Dat A Freak, which features a series of animated dancers getting on down. Production company: Chez Eddy. UK/US rep: Not To Scale.

A change of pace with our next promo, which is a beautiful stop motion animation created by Simon Roberts for the song Sirens by Flight Brigade.

We return to the dance in this promo, directed by Oliver Hadlee Pearch, which features a slightly unlikely couple busting out moves to Jungle's track Time. The video is the latest in a series by Pearch for Jungle. Production company: Colonel Blimp.

Our last video is an intense one: a beautifully shot film by Martin de Thurah, it is created for the new Röyksopp and Robyn track Do It Again. The film, which is all black-and-white, is a dream-like piece featuring scenes of violence, political revolution, and sex, as well as Robyn throwing her arms around. Production company: The Lift.


Sagmeister and the ‘bullshit’ around storytelling

Posted: July 24th, 2014 | Author: Patrick Burgoyne | Filed under: Advertising, Digital, Graphic Design, Music Video / Film | Comments Off

Stefan Sagmeister has vehemently dismissed the current vogue among creative types to label themselves ‘storytellers' as ‘bullshit'.

In an uncharacteristically irascible interview for FITC, the organisers of the Camp festival in Calgary, Sagmeister attacks the urge for those in the communications industry to rush to re-assign themselves as storytellers, the theme of the conference. "Now everybody's a storyteller," he says, before dismissing the trend as "bullshit"

 


Some commenters on Vimeo, where the film was posted, disagreed, particularly with his definition of storytellers as only those who write novels or make movies.

Here, they have a point. Of course storytelling exists beyond those narrow confines, it always has. But I think Sagmeister's thrust was directed more at the way that ‘storytelling' has been latched onto by the advertising and marketing worlds to the extent that every corporate drone in chinos and a polo shirt is now spouting about it in their conference Powerpoint presentations.

It's almost become as ubiquitously nonsensical as ‘content', the misuse of which Gordon Comstock and Sell Sell railed against with great passion here.

At Cannes this year it seemed as though almost every session had a ‘storytelling' theme as if this were some amazing new discovery. People like stories you say? Wow, amazing insight!

Perhaps some of these ‘thought leaders' need to get their, er, stories straight. Here's Mainardo De Nardis of OMD telling us that "Storytelling is the capacity to create and distribute content which is relevant for audiences across whatever platform" - it is? Wasn't that 'integrated', or is that just what we were calling it two years ago? He also says that "without storytelling we go back to 30 second spots which is not the way our brains need to be communicated with to create real engagement"

 

And yet, at the same event, his peers on the jury were busy handing out award after award to this, a commercial (remember them?) that, in its form and content, could have been made at any time in the last 40 years (Solvite anyone?)

 


‘Storytelling' has been at the heart of some of the greatest advertising campaigns. What's this if it's not telling a great story, for example

 

And the famous BBH Levi's ads were all about telling stories around some of the unique features of the product

 

Now we have online films with longer narratives about brands, their users and their community

 

 

And we have new, powerful tools to tell stories in multifaceted ways, such as some of the brilliant pieces currently coming out of the National Film Board of Canada

 

 

Storytelling is universal and as old as the human race. But that doesn't mean we are all storytellers in everything we do.

In the film, Sagmeister rages about a rollercoaster designer who referred to himself as a storyteller: "No fuckhead, you are not a storyteller, you're a rollercoaster designer!" Being a rollercoaster designer sounds a pretty cool job - surely that's enough? Why the need to dress it up as something else?

This, I think, is the crux of the matter. The ad industry is searching for a role for itself in a communications world that has become very complex. The old certainties no longer apply. It has leaped on ‘Storytelling' as a means of defining what it offers that none of the data geeks or algorithms can.

So thank goodness for Sagmeister for puncturing this particular bullshit bubble with such alacrity. Of course it helps if you've got something interesting to say about your product or organisation, of course telling a powerful story will stick in people's minds and make them feel positive toward you. Yes, we now have lots of different ways to tell such stories. Didn't we know all this already?

Oh, and while we're on the subject of conference bollocks, can we please all stop saying "learnings'?

 


What’s On

Posted: July 24th, 2014 | Author: Antonia Wilson | Filed under: Advertising, Art, Books, Digital, Graphic Design, Illustration, Magazine / Newspaper, Music Video / Film, Photography, Type / Typography | Comments Off

CR's pick of current and upcoming exhibitions, design events and creative activities including Graphic Advocacy poster show in New York, Divine Violence from Broomberg & Chanarin in Llandudno, Gibert & George in London, Barbara Kruger in Oxford, street artist Sickboy in London, Summer Screen Prints at Somerset House, The Power of Baked Rolls! poster ad show in Helsinki...

 

Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age 2001-2012
ADC Gallery, New York
Until 15 Aug

Touring showcase of 122 posters demonstrating the medium's crucial role in social change - recording struggles for peace, social injustice, environmental defence, liberation from oppression, as tools for education, politics, and promotion - in this digital age, when multiple audiences can consume media through multiple sources and multiple channels.

After the New York show, it travels to Florida, Maryland, Indiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma, with more dates to be announced.

http://www.graphicadvocacyposters.org
http://adcglobal.org

Broomberg & Chanarin: Divine Violence
Mostyn, Llandudno
Until 2 Nov

New exhibition from artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin (winners of the Deutsch Borse Photo Prize 2013). Inspired by Bertolt Brecht's annotated bible, which Broomberg and Chanarin discovered in the Brecht Archive in Berlin, the duo annotated their own (entitled Holy Bible) - highlighting images of violence and destruction with photographs sourced from the Archive of Modern Conflict.

After initially publishing this in book form, it now goes on show as a full-scale exhibition, exploring visual representations of conflict and the connection between biblical catastrophe and modern governance. Other key works by the pair will also be on show, including Afterlife, a series offering a re-reading of the controversial Pulitzer Prize-winning 1979 photograph of the execution of blindfolded Kurdish prisoners; and The Day Nobody Died, a series of non-figurative, action-photographs taken without a camera in Afghanistan.

Get CR August on the iPad (out next week) for a closer look at the work from this exhibition. More info on the app and subscribing here.

http://www.mostyn.org


Gilbert & George: Scapegoating Pictures for London
White Cube, London
Until 28 Sep

New show from the iconic duo, featuring giant photomontage work exploring urban existence, with a look at the changing face of London (their home for many decades), religious fundamentalism, drug abuse, and youth culture in the capital.

East London landmarks sit alongside burkas, buses, sinister bomb shaped nitrous oxide canisters, and of course depictions of the pair themselves in vivid blocks of red black and white. These are said to be some of their most outrageous works to date.

http://whitecube.com

 

Barbara Kruger
Modern Art Oxford
Until 31 Aug

Solo show of new and recent work from the acclaimed conceptual artist, whose work combines bold colours, slogans and jarring juxtapositions of text and image, and explores and questions the strategies and manipulative nature of mass communication and consumer culture.

The exhibition includes a text based site-specific architectural wrap of the upper gallery space, alongside a series of classic 1980s paste-up works, and two films - Plenty LA (2008) capturing the gaze of the phone-obsessed consumer, and a four screen installation presenting a rare look at her film Twelve (2004).

http://www.modernartoxford.org.uk


Sickboy: Make It Last Forever
Until 30 August
The Outsiders gallery, London

Multi-disciplinary exhibition from UK street artist Sickboy, one of the leading artists to have emerged from the Bristol graffiti scene, presenting "a unique multimedia diary that seeks to outlive its creator, a rare opportunity to delve inside the chaotic existence of a nomadic talent".

His surreal, playful visual language appearing on large abstract canvases and other sculptures and interactive installations including temple shrines, a superman sculpture and a coffin, alongside ephemera from the artist's personal collection.

http://www.theoutsiders.net


Summer Screen Prints
Somerset House, London
31 Jul - 25 Aug

Film poster exhibition in association with Print Club London, with limited edition prints inspired by each film shown at Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, marking the event series' tenth anniversary. Print Club has selected an assortment of styles and artists including Rose Blake, Hattie Stewart, Kate Moross, Steve Wilson, Kate Gibb and HelloVon.

http://www.somersethouse.org.uk

 

The Power of Baked Rolls! - Co-op advertising in 1950s
Virka Gallery, Helsinki
Until 31 Aug

Nostalgic show of '50s Finnish Co-op Union ad posters from the Labour Archives collections, featuring local food, eco-values, family life, pastimes and DIY, alongside seasonal window displays built in to the gallery space.

http://virka.fi

 

To submit events for consideration, please email whatson@creativereview.co.uk


The Disney Universe

Posted: July 14th, 2014 | Author: Antonia Wilson | Filed under: Art, Digital, Graphic Design, Music Video / Film | Comments Off

Kingston graphic design graduate Marianne Hanoun has spent the last three years collecting every star from every Disney and Pixar animated feature-length film, to create The Disney Universe, a beautiful 4m long print, also available online to view in all its painstaking detail here (full screen viewing and zooming advised).

We asked Hanoun to tell us more about how this ambitious project was created...

Where did the idea for the project come from?

I actually had the idea in my first year after watching the 'When You Wish Upon A Star' clip from Pinocchio (1940) on YouTube. It struck me just how much emphasis Disney place on stars and wishing on them. I posted it on my then-blog as a 'side-project'. It's funny how such a small thought ended up being something so big. (Literally).

The idea continued to grow and develop throughout my second year. But when it came to my final year at Kingston, I knew it was now or never. On the verge of graduating, I wondered whether I could try and make my childhood dream to work at Disney come true. Ultimately, however, it's really more of a love-letter to a company who has continued to inspire me, and a celebration of their history and legacy.

When did your obsession with Disney begin?

Probably the same time as it did for a lot of people - Disney is one of those things that has been a part of most people's childhoods, whether it's a favourite song, or a character we empathise with.

My Dad would always return home every week or so with a new Disney VHS, magazine, or a read-a-long book that came with a cassette tape. I'd spend hours trying to draw Disney characters from the magazine and the VHS covers and wouldn't settle for anything but perfection. It sparked a continued interest in animation history and Americana generally that I've maintained to this day.

Can you tell me more about the creative process?

The process was always a work in development in itself. I spent much of my summer in my second year in darkness, testing to find a technique that could give me the result I wanted.

It can be split up into three main 'phases': collecting, cutting and blending. I first had to watch all of the films, and collect the stars. Every time a star came into frame I would pause, and save the film still. This ultimately amounted to over 3000 individual images.

I then had to cut the stars out from each still, erasing characters, buildings and so forth. Finally, it came down to merging and blending the images together, done mainly by colour. Some films clicked beautifully into place with others, some were more challenging and needed more editing.

The project had a life of its own from day one. There was no way of knowing what the finished thing would look like - it changed from month to month as more stars were added. The question I got asked the most (apart from 'how are you doing this?') was 'is it finished yet?' and in a way, finishing it was like seeing it for the first time.

How did the work for this project fit around your degree?

Before going into third year I knew it would be a challenge to balance such a huge project whilst putting together a portfolio and writing a dissertation alongside. This was the biggest project I had ever undertaken, and I spent countless weekends inside in pitch-black darkness, and many days in the studio hunched underneath my coat to avoid screen glare. I set myself tasks and challenges on my blog, telling myself I would have X number of films done by the end of each week.

Half-way through the process my laptop couldn't cope with how big the file size was getting, so I had to use my friend Luke's mega-fast laptop to complete the project, which also meant having to work around whenever he was free as well!

What would your dream design or animation commission involve?

Of course I would love to work with Disney on something, I'm not sure what that would be but it would be a wonderful opportunity to work with a brand I know and love so much. I think the piece could work really well as an addition to their Disney Animated app, so it would be great to work with them on developing something. But as long as great ideas are the backbone of whatever I do, I'll be happy.

(Above: work in progress images)

Are you working on anything at the moment?

I have a few things in the pipeline. I've just started working on a project based on American bleachers (the tiered rows of benches on sports fields). Their architectural structure and cultural connotations really intrigue me. I'm also starting to put together a book about McDonald's 'Happy Meal' toys, based on research conducted during my dissertation.

(Above: full print, actual length is 4m)

(Above: installation image)

How has graduate life been so far, and what's next?

Graduate life has been pretty exciting so far! Disney actually got in contact recently and asked if they could hang a copy of the print up in their Studios in Burbank, California, so I'll be heading Stateside soon for that. Receiving that email was probably one of the best moments of my life.

Other than that, I've been freelancing and interning at studios. In September I'll be off to the Royal College of Art, to start the Critical Writing in Art and Design MA. I hope to maintain my design practice alongside my new studies - I have a feeling the two worlds will be colliding more often than not.

View the print online at http://imwishingimwishing.tumblr.com/view (full screen viewing and zooming advised)

http://imwishingimwishing.tumblr.com

http://cargocollective.com/MMH