Architecture for the Birds.

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Do you feel that the fine feathered friends building nests in your yard’s trees need something a little nicer? Maybe a nice two bedroom Eichler inspired house, or something a little bit more Frank Lloyd Wright? Well Sourgrassbuilt is here to help you make sure that all the birds in your yard have a modern dwelling to call home. Designed and built by Douglas Barnhard for his company, Sourgrassbuilt, in Santa Cruz California these mid-century modern homes are pretty amazing. The birdhouses are handcrafted from valuable leftover wood and laminates that come from other furniture projects that Barnhard creates for Sourgrassbuilt. One of the really nice touches is the fact that many of the houses have small living garden space to help attract birds as well. Barnhard’s Etsy site says he is still taking orders through December 11 for Christmas delivery, so if you want be Santa to the birds this year, you better hurry.

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The Kitchen.

Most people never realize just how much work goes into producing a TV commercial. For the most part what we see, if we are fast-forwarding over them, is the fifteen-second edit of the original sixty-second spot. They whiz by in a blip sandwiched between other ads that blend into a seamless stream of no one paying attention. But occasionally someone posts a video showing how things get done.

Have you ever wondered how they match the 3D animations to live action footage? Blend shots together? What the total production of a video looks like?  The video below for Canal+ shows you. No it doesn’t go into any lengthy detailed VFX breakdown, but it does give you a pretty solid idea of what it took to produce the promotional spot titled “The Kitchen”.

The finished sixty second spot

How they made it.

Selling Genesis Cars With Deep Purple.

I really like this video telling the story of how Deep Purple came to write their epic hit “Smoke on the Water”. Maybe it’s because it is one of the first songs I learned to play on the guitar. The video has a great look to it and the story is compelling enough to draw you in and keep you engaged until the end. What I don’t get is why the marketing team for Genesis cars thought this would be solid advertising for them. There is no connection between the band, the song, the story or the car. There isn’t even a car in the story, so who thought this was a good way to sell cars? At the end of the video there is the tag line “Inspired by Genesis”. Are they trying to say our cars are so great they are like a casino burning to the ground at the end of a Frank Zappa concert? It just seems like it is the wrong message. This kind of reminds me of Disney using Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” to advertise family cruises, or Lee Jeans using Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Senator’s Son” to sell jeans without actually listening to the lyrics in the songs.

Perhaps the marketing department was looking for a long shot and thought if enough people talk about the fact that this makes no sense we will actually move some automobiles. Maybe someone at Genesis is a huge Deep Purple fan.  Great video though. Solid story, great animation, nice look from rom Great Big Story.

 

Rain or Shine Googles Latest 360º Immersive Spotlight Story

About a year ago Google launched a new line of video shorts for YouTube called Google Spotlight Stories, a specific immersive video platform with mobile users in mind. The video below can be panned through as the action takes place, but where this really shines is when you watch the video on an Android or iOS device in the native YouTube app.

Rain or Shine directed by Felix Massie is the latest in the series of shorts and is really quite impressive beyond the technology. The story and character development are superb drawing the viewer in and engaging with them as the explore the environment as the story plays out. The story is simple yet clever. The main character, Ella puts on a pair of magical sunglasses and travels through her London neighborhood creating chaos before learning how to use the glasses for good.

This really is a better experience on your phone, so if you have a chance watch it and the other Google Spotlight Stories there.

 

To view the show in full interactive 360, use the YouTube App on a compatible Android device (https://goo.gl/7BYwRJ). For iOS, download the Google Spotlight Stories app now (https://goo.gl/eadPnO).

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Learn more here: https://www.google.com/atap/spotlight…

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These interactive stories are optimized for a fast connection (WiFi or LTE) and a supported Android device. Also, please update your YouTube app for the best experience.

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Hypnotic, Euphoric, Minimalistic.

Over the last year I have noticed an emerging visual trend that has started popping up in all sorts of videos, and will probably make it’s way to the rest of the creative world. It is a black and white, lo-fi, grainy, not quite 8-bit look. It reminds me of 1980’s video camera footage that has been mashed up with a sort of hand-drawn style. I say sort of, because like in the video below it is obviously digital. The lines and shapes have a hand-drawn quality to them, but they are to clean. Like the art brushes that come with Adobe illustrator. Then there is the background texture, in this case paper, but in a number of other videos I’ve seen it’s is fine digital noise. Fake signal noise that has been added to the clip to give it a dirty analog look. I’m curious how long it’ll be before this makes it’s way to mainstream advertising, at which point we can add it to the “jumped the shark” list like so many other trends of late. (sketchbook, stop motion, hyper color, 8-bit graphics and sound…)

By the way, this is quite hypnotic. Consider yourself warned.

Buster the Boxer Likes To Bounce.

Every year British department store chain John Lewis goes all in on their holiday marketing campaign, and this year is no exception. From the TV commercial, “Buster’s Garden” to the extended length YouTube spot, the VR 360 companion video and the website, plus social media (they have a dedicated Snapchat filter you can get) they have pulled out all the stops. The video is a really nice blend of CG and live action with a story that ties it all together. The concept is built around the story of a little girl called Bridget who loves to bounce. When her mom and dad buy her a trampoline for Christmas, they soon discover that she isn’t the only one with a passion for jumping.

If you click through to YouTube and select the more information section you will see where John Lewis has partnered with the Wildlife Trusts to help protect and restore our nation’s wildlife and natural habitat for our children today and in the future. I addition there are options to sign up for additional videos that will be posting this holiday season and the usual hooks to social media as well. The microsite does a really solid job of integrating the extended content and encouraging visitors to do more than just shop. While shopping is encouraged and there are really strong ties to product related specifically to the advertising, there are additional calls to action with Bring Skills to Life which ties the campaign to real world activities children can engage with at home.

One of the things that I think is really interesting, and I wish I were going to the UK to see it in person, is the fact that John Lewis has created Buster’s Garden at a number of their stores allowing you to explore the space using Oculus Rift technology. Like the rest of the campaign, its a nice blend of technology and the physical store environments.

Adobe’s Software Development Teams Need To Get a Clue.

adobeYesterday I finally broke down and installed all of the software upgrades that Adobe’s Creative Cloud had been pushing on me since they were announced at Adobe Max. While the process of running the upgrades wasn’t painful (at first) it was time-consuming (and still is). So let’s get to this. If you haven’t upgraded yet, be prepared to spend a boat load of time being involved with this process. Not because the initial upgrade will eat your day, but because the aftermath will. Why? because the Adobe software engineering team failed to take into account that an upgrade involves more than just their base software. It involves all the third-party plugins, presets scripts, and additional add-ons that most of use to extend Adobe’s software and make it more functional.

The new upgrade installs completely new versions of the Creative Cloud suite. That’s right it doesn’t actually upgrade your existing software base, it installs a brand new version of each piece of software you use. Adobe, this is an engineering fail and let me explain why. By installing a new version of the software as opposed to overwriting the existing software you force me to spend hours downloading and reinstalling hundreds of third-party add-ons across 14 applications that were upgraded in a single move. Now I know I am probably an exception to the rule since I use more than the average Joe when it comes to your software suite, but even for people only using, let’s say Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, this sucks. For instance, I have to now download and reinstall just for Photoshop the Nik plugin pack, Topaz Denoise, Natural HDR, Luminosity mask scripts, all of the actions I had created for previous versions, and a handful of other plugins and scripts. For After Effects it’s even worse I have to download and reinstall the entire Red Giant suite, (Particular, Light Factory, Composite Wizard, Holomatrix, Warp, Text Anarchy, Plane Space, Lux, Shine, Starglow, 3D Stroke, Sound Keys, Mir, Tow, Form, Looks, Colorista, Primatte, and about 8 more), not to mention scripts like Ease and Wizz and about 10 others.

This is a giant time suck, and time is money.

Adobe is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to creative software. If you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, filmmaker, typographer, sound designer, videographer, or artist you probably use at least one Adobe product if not components from the entire suite, and you are probably using Adobe’s Creative Cloud to stay current. Like many of you, I have a love-hate relationship with the Creative Cloud. I love that it keeps me up to date. I hate that every time there is a major upgrade I have to go through this bullshit. I get that Adobe moved to the Creative Cloud set up to combat software piracy, and control versioning across a large distribution base. What I don’t get is why after 3 or 4 years of pushing everyone to use the Creative Cloud, no one at Adobe has figured out that their upgrade process truly sucks. It’s broken. The user experience after making the upgrade is pure crap. It’s a gigantic time suck, and it could be avoided. The thing is, when you are the only game in town, you don’t have to make things right for your customer base

The thing is, when you are the only game in town, you don’t have to make things right for your customer base. You just keep doing what you are doing, because the chances of being dethroned after 30 years is pretty small. Adobe if you are listening, and I doubt you are, I am going to spend the better part of a day completing the upgrade to CC 2017, because your software engineering team didn’t feel that it was important enough to create an actual “Upgrade” as opposed to a complete new install. A new install that left legacy versions of 10 applications sitting on my hard drive wasting space, and is forcing me to track down essential tools I need to complete my workflow and reinstall them.

I know there are alternative tool sets available, but like so many I have bought into the Adobe workflow, and have spent decades learning to use these tools to master my craft. For lack of a better term, Adobe has me by the balls, and they know I am too invested to give them up. Consequently, it feels as though they have stopped giving a damn about the total user experience which involves maintenance like upgrades, but hey they added some new features to Photoshop I’ll probably never use.

I wonder if I can send them a bill for the time I’ll spend installing everything else I need to make the current updates fully functional with my workflow?

 

UPDATE: Like pouring salt in an open wound, if you are a Mac user, all of the applications in your Dock no longer work so you get to spend additional time removing all of them and adding the new application updates back in.

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