December's CR is a double issue and features our Photography Annual; 80-pages of the best in editorial, advertising, fashion, stock and personal work...
This year's Photography Annual includes some fantastic imagery from a wide range of experienced practitioners and relative newcomers. We launched the special issue last night at the Design Museum and were able to celebrate the achievements of those whose work is featured in its pages and the seven projects which were judged Best in Book. Congratulations to all.
Flip the issue over, and up front in the regular CR half we look at how Precision Printing worked to produce this year's Photography Annual cover; take a look at the best of this year's Christmas ads; and look at the Barry Island climbing wall which doubles as an art installation. We also have Bagpuss as we 'almost' new him.
In the columns, Daniel Benneworth-Gray struggles to cope with two new demanding clients in his life – a poorly wife and child; while in Logo Log, Michael Evamy explores the power of punctuation in branding – on the back of the NSPCC's recent logo redesign.
Kicking off our main features, Patrick Burgoyne talks to designer Vince Frost about his new self-helf book, Design Your Life. In it Frost explains how the same design principles which work for clients can be applied to making our personal lives better.
Patrick also investigates the social and political challenges that our ageing populations pose to Western economies – and looks at the opportunities that might arise, too.
Eliza Williams examines a year in which native advertising established itself as a controversial presence in our media landscape...
...and in using materials that change colour in the wind – or even react to brain activity – Rachael Steven talks to The Unseen, an 'exploration house' effortlessly combining art and chemistry.
French graphic designer and illustrator Jean Jullien is much in-demand at the moment and Mark Sinclair talks to him about his work to date as he leaves his adopted home of London for New York.
Five years ago, Sophie Ebrand swapped life as an advertising account manager for that of a professional photographer – and she's never looked back. Eliza Williams meets her.
In Crit, Jean Grogan attends a Paris conference on the work of type designer, artist and ad man Roger Excoffon, whose work is enjoying something of a revival at the moment...
... and Craig Oldham is also conference bound – to Manchester's People's History Museum for an event dedicated to the history of the political poster in Britain.
Finally, Paul Belford celebrates a type-only poster designed by the late Alan Fletcher which proves that working counter-intuitively can pay off in a big way.
Unit9 has teamed up with a student director and producer to launch a live action zombie game sponsored by G-Shock. The game was launched under Unit9 presents, a scheme helping new creatives make interactive content combining film and gameplay...
Released online today, Five Minutes was directed by Maximilian Niemann and produced by Felix Faisst, both students at Germany’s Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg . It begins with footage of a character in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, who is worried he may be 'infected' and has five minutes to decide whether to shoot himself and avoid joining the undead.
As the character John explains, the first symptom of infection is memory loss: the game switches between his flashbacks and attempts to defend himself and his daughter against attacking zombies. Viewers asked to tap, swipe and draw shapes with their finger or mouse to help fire guns, unlock doors and escape through a forest.
It's a compelling (and gory) piece of film and gameplay is fairly simple but engaging, although a little tricky for the not-so-steady of hand using a mouse. Players can choose from one of three levels of difficulty and can pause and replay parts of the game at any time. After a gruesome ending, they are also invited to share their score online.
To make the film, Niemann and Faisst taught themselves how to code and built a custom HTML framework, meaning the game can be played on any tablet or desktop device without installing an app. While it's not an official ad, the project was sponsored by G-Shock and features the brand's watches throughout (they are worn by both John and his daughter and used to count down throughout the five-minute period).
The pair came up with the idea for the film last year and pitched it to Unit9, who helped develop and release it. They have since been signed to the company for commercial work, although have still to finish their final year of studies. "Our goal was to create a different form of advertisement which involves the viewer in a fun and emotional way," they explain. "Although the viewer knows or has the feeling this is branded content, he should be able to enjoy it, to experience the brand without being constantly reminded of the product."
The project is one of several self-initiated interactive experiences that Unit9 has helped emerging directors produce and promote: in the past two years, it has worked with The Kissinger Twins on two interactive web films, Sufferosa and The Trip; a short film inspired by Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto series by Gevorg Karensky and The Most Northern Place, a web experience telling the fascinating story of Qaanaaq, an Inuit settlement and one of the world's northernmost towns.
Five Minutes is the first film to be produced under the Unit9 presents name, and co-founder Piero Frescobaldi says the company is keen to work with more creatives who can make engaging interactive content.
"Up until a few years ago, a lot of people in the digital interactive industry were pushing boundaries, and brands were braver," says Frescobaldi.
"For various reasons, it seems everyone is a little less willing to experiment. It's just a thing that happens cyclically, and I'm sure things will change, but it feels like everyone has retreated into their shell a little. It's up to us as creatives to just go out and make things, or promote people who do, and revitalise the industry that way, rather than waiting for the perfect brief," he explains.
While Unit9 presents will help promote and make films, Frescobaldi says creatives looking to work with the agency have to do more than just pitch an idea. "With Five Minutes, [Niemann and Faisst] came to me with an idea, they had shot some of the footage and written it, and I thought it was good, but told them I thought they should try and push it forward, to see what else they could do with it. A few months later, they sent me a link and had created a really engaging, emotional piece of work by teaching themselves to code," he says.
"What's amazing is that [Niemann and Faisst] are able to think about everything from colour grading and camera angles, to how it will work in HTML5. Nowadays, I think that is really important and I'm very excited, as I think we're starting to see a generational shift - young people who have an innate understanding of interactive technology and gameplay, who are training themselves in new mediums,” he says.
While there is no limit on the number of projects Unit9 presents will take on, Frescobaldi says it will only do so if the idea is sufficiently interesting, and directors show real promise.
"If students can make things like [Five Minutes], we can help with scripting and developing it, or using our following to market it and promote it," he adds. "And in parallel to this, with Five Minutes, we have a representation deal."
A zombie horror game isn’t an obvious choice of medium for a watch brand, or perhaps any brand, to showcase its products – in most scenes, John’s watch is covered in blood and pictured alongside a gaping wound in his arm – but it is an engaging piece of content, and Frescobaldi hopes projects like Five Minutes will encourage more companies to commission more experimental content online.
“Of course, as this wasn’t an official ad [G-Shock] don’t have to get the approval of multiple people, or spend big budgets on it – they are supporting a student project – but I hope it will stimulate people to take more risks,” he adds.
After a successful debut in June this year, Sheffield Design Week is back with the Design Week-ender: a mini festival of events taking place in the city this weekend. The three-day line-up includes talks, screenings, a design-themed pub quiz and a new installation from The Designers Republic...
Atoms Vectors Pixels Ghosts (pictured above) is a 120-metre stretch of graphic hoardings opposite Sheffield train station. The hoardings are described as "ideas and fictions snatched from the ether, filtered and forged into concrete logic nets and rationalised parameters, and fizzed out into endless possibilities approaching not knowing.
"They represent they represent glitched dreamscapes, or digital organic technology disintegrating the science of what is into the coded possibilities of 'what if'. Certainly they are ghosts in the machine, substance free altered states and/or humanish scan codes captured somewhere between random and design," says TDR.
If you're still wondering what it's all about, Ian Anderson will be giving a talk on the project at Sheffield Hallam on Friday November 21 - it's free to attend, and tickets can be booked here. TDR will also be projecting AVPG into the sky above the city's Park Hill estate, while an exhibition at Made North gallery will showcase AVPG prints and materials.
Other events taking place this weekend include a design pub quiz at the Rutland Arms, a Pecha Kucha evening at Sheffield University, an open studio event at Yorkshire Artspace and a Startup Weekend at the city's Enterprise Zone, where attendees will work in teams to devise solutions to pressing global problems. For details, or for more info about Sheffield Design Week, see sheffielddesignweek.co.uk.
The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935, Universal/The Kobal Collection
The Gothic still retains a powerful influence on visual culture, as an eerie show at the British Library reveals. Rick Poynor ventures inside
I have always had a slightly guilty taste for the Gothic. I say guilty because there is something undeniably adolescent about the Gothic imagination. At its most excessive it is certainly not subtle: ruined castles, dark forests, evil monks, supernatural occurrences, lashings of black and rivers of blood. My dalliance with the Gothic began as a teenager, watching Hammer horror films on late-night TV and reading the classic novels.
What still attracts me is the pleasure of the fantastic, the genre's willingness to embrace the irrational, the proximity of terror and the sublime, and the way that Gothic works usher us down into crypts of inner experience that more decorous forms of storytelling cannot reach. I draw the line at dressing up like a Goth, but I can see the appeal for those who do.
Model of Gothic revival country house Fonthill Abbey, on loan from Beckford's Tower and Museum, Bath. Photo: Tony Antoniou
Terror and Wonder, the British Library's unusually crepuscular exhibition - low lighting, black walls, typography (by Kellenberger-White) like inscriptions on a tombstone - brought it all back. This is another of those compendious surveys, like the library's Out of this World science fiction show in 2011, which begins with the historical origins of a phenomenon and traces it through to the present. For make no mistake, the Gothic's overwrought contemporary progeny are still intrinsic to our cultural life, from Mark Z Danielewski's typographically experimental cult novel House of Leaves (2000) to Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (1999-2006), a knowingly morbid set of children's books, which became a hit movie. Jane Austen may have made fun of Gothic literature in her 1817 novel Northanger Abbey. Today, she herself gets mashed up and parodied in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009).
The exhibition begins, as it must, in Strawberry Hill, where Horace Walpole spent three decades building a tribute to the medieval Gothic style with towers, battlements and ornate chambers. In 1764, Walpole published The Castle of Otranto, commonly regarded as the first Gothic novel - "a tale of mistaken identity, illicit sexuality, supernatural happenings and tense pursuits", as the curators put it - set in a medieval Italian castle. Lurid Gothic romances rapidly became a craze and many early examples are on show: William Beckford's Vathek - a later German edition with a hair-raising illustration by Gottfried Helnwein; Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho; and Matthew Lewis's The Monk, an astonishing book, which I recently read again. Written when its precocious author was 19, it significantly boosted the Gothic novel's sex and violence quotient. A James Gilray cartoon from 1802 shows a lady at a table reading The Monk out loud to three startled but utterly enthralled female companions.
The Nightmare, after Henry Fuseli, print made by Thomas Burke, London, 1783 (on loan from the Trustees of the British Museum)
The mood of these novels receives visual expression in some well-chosen paintings of the period, such as Philip James de Loutherbourg's Travellers Attacked by Banditti (1781) and Henri Fuseli's Percival Delivering Belisane from the Enchantment of Urma (1783). But the early parts of the exhibition are inevitably bookish, with many title pages to be studied, and the exhibition's accompanying volume, written by literary scholars, emphasises the literary history.
For non-specialists, the most rewarding aspect of Terror and Wonder is its detailed exposition of the many channels through which the virus of Gothic themes and imagery took cultural hold. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) continues to haunt the popular imagination, as does Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven, which in 1990 made it into an episode of The Simpsons. The exhibition also includes a clip from a 1953 animated version of Poe's story The Tell-Tale Heart, narrated by the actor James Mason, which received a precautionary X certificate from the British Board of Film Censors.
Cover of Bram Stoker's Dracula, featuring the first ever illustration of the Count, Leeds, 1901
Gothic imagery can be found in the Brontës' Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, which was restyled in a 2009 reissue to look like a volume from Stephanie Meyer's Twilight vampire saga, as well as in Dickens' Bleak House (the exhibition has a clip of the BBC dramatisation), Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, not forgetting Bram Stoker's seemingly immortal creation Dracula (1897). The Victorian penny dreadfuls, where Spring-heeled Jack, a persistent urban legend, made regular appearances, were also significant. The exhibition finds a place, too, for a front-page story from 1888 in The Illustrated Police News, detailing Jack the Ripper's latest slaying in the Gothic gloom of London's Whitechapel.
The Plague of the Zombies poster (BFI National Archive)
As the narrative moves into the 20th-century, the displays become more garishly graphic. There are film posters for Dead of Night and The Innocents, Jack Nicholson's scrapbook from Kubrick's The Shining, and clips from The Bride of Frankenstein, Hammer's The Plague of the Zombies and The Wicker Man. At times one wonders whether the curators - led by Tim Pye - have become too over-enthusiastically all-encompassing in their interpretation of the theme. The Wicker Man has an enduring power to chill, and it gets some useful contextual support from an alarming but dubious illustration from 1771 showing Druids burning sacrificial victims in a wicker man, but is the film in any real sense Gothic?
Early illustration of a 'wicker man' from Nathaniel Spencer's The Complete English Traveller, 1771, British Library Board
The Wicker Man, 1973, Studio Canal Films/The Kobal Collection
Since the 1960s, horror has become so extreme as a genre that traditional tropes - castles, dungeons and deranged clergymen - now seem rather fangless. The Gothic today is more an arena for stylistic play and irony (see the Chapman Brothers) than a place of fearfulness or true transgression. In the late 1970s, Gothic style jumped the species barrier into pop. Listen to Bela Lugosi's Dead by Bauhaus on YouTube, if you have never heard it - the sleeve graphics are in the show. Performers like Siouxsie and the Banshees and Robert Smith of The Cure became icons of Gothic moodiness. Costuming yourself as a Goth was now a lifestyle choice, an act of subcultural allegiance and a declaration of difference.
Jim Kay, preliminary sketch for A Monster Calls
Every year, the face-painted tribe converges on the port where Bram Stoker's Dracula came ashore, for the Whitby Goth Weekend, and the British Library sent Martin Parr along to document the event. His photos, on display in the last room, are washed out by the weather and don't have the glamour some photographers might have contrived. What Parr records, 250 years after the first Gothic novel appeared, are gentle and surprisingly touching visual gestures of everyday defiance.
This article was first published in CR's November issue. For more like this, subscribe here
The Creative Review Annual 2015 is now open for entries. Enter by Friday 12th December to have your work featured in our showcase of the year's finest work.
As our major awards scheme, The Annual celebrates the best in visual communications from the past year, and showcases great work to both peers and potential clients from the wider creative community.
Each year, our panel of industry experts chooses the work that they feel represents the best of the year across advertising, design, digital and music videos, for publication in our special double issue of Creative Review in May.
For more details and to submit your entry, click here
Kris Hofmann has directed a charming and impeccably crafted film for Wildlife Aid, to raise awareness of the plight of the urban hedgehog, which apparently is facing extinction. We talk to Hofmann about how the film was made.
The film's story is a simple one: it features Harry, a city-based hedgehog, who follows a set of magical footprints that lead him out of the city and into his natural habitat in the wild. At the end of the film, viewers are then directed to a website, wildlifeaid.org.uk, where they can donate. Where the film really dazzles though is in its design. Hofmann worked with illustrator Sandra Dieckmann and modelmaker Joe James to create the piece, which uses a mix of hand-drawn illustrations and puppets set in a 3D world.
"I gave Sandra a storyboard and asked her to draw the environment that Harry will be travelling through," explains Hofmann of the process. "So she illustrated the journey from suburban garden, through the town and eventually back to the forest where Harry would find a better home (and a hedgehog girlfriend!)."
The hedgehog puppet was then created by James, based on a rough design from Hofmann, which included a specification for the pencil style spikes. Here's a close up of the finished Harry:
"We then recreated the different elements of Sandra's world in 3D," continues Hofmann. "Walls, trees, bins etc were all built from grey card and arranged in a composition close to the one in the initial storyboard and her drawings.
"This allowed us to give the illustrations she created 'body', and merge the worlds of the flat drawings and the puppet. For example, when Harry is walking through the forest, the trees cast shadows on him. In the final stage, I mapped Sandra's drawings on to the 3D elements, the floor and the background."
Below are some sequences from the film, to show how the elements were combined for the finished film:
The US directing duo Daniels have picked up the Video of the Year award at this year's UK Music Video Awards, with their crazy and hilarious promo for Turn Down For What by DJ Snake ft Lil Jon.
The winners of the 2014 UK MVAs were announced last night at a ceremony at the Southbank Centre in London. Alongside Daniels (who also picked up the Best Dance Video – International gong for Turn Down For What), other big winners included artist FKA Twigs, who won the inaugural Best Video Artist award, plus the Best Alternative Video – Budget gong for Papi Pacify, which she co-directed with Tom Beard. Hiro Murai picked up the Best Director award, as well as the award for Best Rock/Indie Video – International, while Daniel Wolfe won best Best Pop Video for his epic short film for Paolo Nutini's Iron Sky.
In the interactive category, Vania Heymann picked up the top award for his impressive promo for Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone, while this year's Best New Director award went to French directing team Truman & Cooper.
Here are the winners in full:
Video of the Year: DJ Snake ft Lil Jon, Turn Down For What, directed by Daniels (also won Best Dance Video – International)
Best Pop Video – UK: Paulo Nutini, Iron Sky, directed by Daniel Wolfe (also won Best Cinematography In A Video, DOP is Robbie Ryan)
Best Dance Video – UK: Disclosure, Grab Her, directed by Emile Sornin
Best Rock/Indie Video – UK: Throne, Tharsis Sleeps, directed by Nicos Livesey and Tom Bunker
Best Alternative Video – UK: Atoms For Peace, Before Your Very Eyes, directed by Andrew Thomas Huang
Best Urban Video – UK: Last Night In Paris, Pure (trailer above), directed by Karim Huu Do
Best Pop Video – International: Sia, Chandelier, directed by Sia and Daniel Askill
Best Rock/Indie Video – International: Queens of the Stone Age, Smooth Sailing, directed by Hiro Murai
Best Alternative Video – International: Arcade Fire, After Life, directed by Emily Kai Bock
Best Urban Video – International: J Cole ft Amber Coffman, She Knows, directed by Sam Pilling
Best Pop Video – Budget: The Correspondents, Fear and Delight, directed by Naren Wilks
Best Dance Video – Budget: Friend Within, The Renegade, directed by Craig Moore
Best Rock/Indie Video – Budget: Kid Wise, Hope, directed by Truman & Cooper
Best Alternative Video – Budget: FKA Twigs, Papi Pacify, directed by FKA Twigs and Tom Beard
Best Urban Video – Budget: Bonnie Banane, Champs-Élyseés, directed by Helmi
Best Art Direction & Design In A Video: OK Go, The Writing's On The Wall, art directed by Ethan Tobman
Best Styling In A Video: Brooke Candy, Opulence, styling by Nicola Formichetti
Best Choreography In A Video: Peace, Money, choreography by Supple Nam
Best Colour Grade In A Video: Paloma Faith, Can't Rely On You, colourist is George K, MPC
Best Animation In A Video: James, Moving On, animation by Ainslie Henderson and Michael Huges
Best Editing In A Video: Jon Hopkins, Collider, editing by Dan Sherwen, Final Cut
Best Visual Effects In A Video: Alt-J, Hunger of the Pine, VFX by Adam Watson, Richard C Thomas, Annie Rowland, Bernardo Varela, Michael Walton, Electric Theatre
Best Live Music Coverage: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Live In Paris, directed by Bartleberry Logan
Vevo Must See Award: Wilkinson, Afterglow, directed by Rémy Cayuela
Best Music Ad: Disclosure, Settle, directed by Kate Moross
A new trend of using titles appears to have broken out on music videos of late. But does every new promo deserve them?
The habit of adding titles (and occasionally even opening credits) to videos has been with us for a little while: for example, Flying Lotus's video Until The Quiet Comes, which won last year's video of the year at the UK Music Video Awards, came complete with this cinematic opening slate:
Recently though, the trend has spread to what feels like almost every video released. The credits come in a number of styles: in the past week alone, I've seen artistic examples, like those in the video for Die Antwoord's Ugly Boy, top, and Flight Facilities' Sunshine (feat. Reggie Watts), below:
Meanwhile, the curiously spelt Astronomyy has opted for a touch of elegance in his Swim Deeper promo:
While the type chosen for the intro to FKA Twigs's Video Girl is frankly just a bit boring:
It's easy to see why using credits appeals: it gives the videos a hint of movie glamour, offering the viewer a hook to draw them in. They work perfectly in videos that are like mini features, such as the Flying Lotus film, where director Khalil Joseph has created a beautifully shot short that is compelling from start to finish, and certainly justifies its cinematic start.
In lesser promos however, the titles can set you up for disappointment – when a great set of opening credits appears, I sit back, looking forward to a short but special experience. So when it turns out to be just another band mugging to camera, I feel a bit robbed. A great set of titles does not necessarily a great video make.... so only use them when they're justified, people.
Aesthetica Short Film Festival takes place in York this weekend, with over 300 films screening in venues around the city. As well as new dramas, comedy, documentaries and music videos, the line-up includes some funny, thought-provoking and beautifully made animation. Here's a look at five of our favourites...
Marcus Armitage - Over Dinner
Marcus Armitage's two-and-a-half minute oil on glass animation is a poignant portrayal of a young soldier's last dinner with his family before he leaves to join the army.
Armitage graduated from the Royal College of Art this summer and made Over Dinner in his first year of studies - he's since produced a series of impressive hand painted and dawn films and his graduation project My Dad was one of the stand-out films from RCA's graduate showcase:
Daisy Jacobs - The Bigger Picture
Daisy Jacobs' stop-motion MA graduation film, The Bigger Picture, has won awards at several international festivals since its release and is one of ten films shortlisted for best animated short at next year's Oscars.
The film is about two brothers struggling to care for their elderly mother and was made using life-sized characters painted on to a wall and full size sets:
Alan Holly/And Maps and Plans - Coda
Also shortlisted for an Oscar nomination this year is Coda, a nine-minute hand drawn film from Dublin animation studio And Maps And Plans. The film was directed by Alan Holly and tells the story of a recently deceased person's meeting with Death.
Eoin Duffy - The Missing Scarf
Eoin Duffy's The Missing Scarf is a brilliant black comedy featuring the voice of George Takei, which begins as a children's fable before turning to something much darker. The film deals with some complex and mind-bending thoughts about life and the universe and stars a charming cast of woodland animals. Watch the film in full below, or read our interview with Duffy here.
Oscar Lewis - John and Iris
Falmouth fine art graduate Oscar Lewis' degree show film, John and Iris, is inspired by an interview he conducted with an elderly couple who have been married for 61 years. It's a lovely look at their life together and is made up of thousands of drawings photographed on a lightbox, based on a mix of photos taken after the interview, old pictures of the couple and found imagery. Since graduating, Lewis has been accepted to study animation at RCA and is working on a new set of drawn films based on interviews conducted around Europe.
Talks and events
This year's line-up is also the first to include fashion film and advertising strands, with shorts from White Lodge, RSA Films and Partizan as well as German, Polish, Italian and African productions.
Talks and workshops include one from Ian Mackenzie of Channel 4's creative diversity team on getting your short films noticed, another by Craig McNeil from record label Beggars on the secret to successful music videos, plus one by director Kathryn Ferguson on the rise of fashion film. RSA will also be discussing how to collaborate with brands and Blinkink executive producer James Stevenson Bretton will give a talk on animation production. To see the full line-up, click here.
Aesthetica Short Film Festival takes place at various venus in York from November 7-9. For showing times or to buy tickets, see asff.co.uk
The November issue of CR - our craft special - is also available for iPad, where you'll find all the print mag articles plus exclusive additional content in Hi Res, our showcase gallery section, and CRTV, with video profiles of creative people, animations and other moving image work from around the world....
In Features we feature several contemporary makers from bicycle builders Rusby Cycles, bespoke shoemakers Carreducker and The Brilliant Sign Company, right through to the latest virtual reality with Oculus Rift, Unit9 and Marshmallow Laser Feast. Plus Carter Wong, Erik Spiekermann, reviews of GraphicsRCA: Fifty Years and the British Library's gothic art show, and more. And not forgetting regular columns from Michael Evamy, Daniel Benneworth-Gray and Paul Belford.
In Hi Res you'll find posters from Abram Games; photographer Jonathan Knowles' Eyes series; toy design and graphics from Fredun Shapur; Lydia Goldblatt's Still Here photo series; David Bailey's East End; and Attack of the Giant Fingers found photo series from KesselsKramer.
CRTV includes virtual reality videos from Unit9 and Marshmallow Laser Feast; profiles of wooden textile designer Elisa Strozyk and graphic designer Max Kisman; animation with Chrisoph Steger's Mother and Nathan Campbell's Aqua Profonda, and a vision of Parisian chocolate craftsmanship by Simon Pinchochet.