Video and Motion Graphics

Ed Ruscha and Jack Kerouac – Motorized Photographs Of Sunset Blvd. And Other L.A. Streets

Ed Ruscha has always been one of my favorite artists. When I was in Art School at the University of Kansas he had a heavy influence on the work I was producing at the time. Not so much his photography, but definitely his paintings and print works. The video above was Commissioned by The Getty Museum on the occasion of their 2019 Getty Medal to the painter, draftsman, photographer, and bookmaker, Ed Ruscha.

Produced by Matthew Miller the Getty Research Institute’s preservation and digitization of over a million images from Ed’s Streets of Los Angeles photo series. Miller then had Ruscha record a voice over for the piece using excerpts from Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road”.

I think this is a wonderful way to experience Ruscha’s photography of Los Angeles in a new way. If you are unfamiliar with Ruscha’s books I recommend checking them out. If you Google “Ed Ruscha Books”, you’ll be able to find them. Start with “26 Gas Stations”, or “Some Los Angeles Apartments”. They’ll give you a solid insight into where Ruscha’s head was in the early to mid-1960s.

Sometimes You Have To Toot Your Own Horn A Little.

I have been maintaining this blog site for more than 10 years now, and it has also been a place to showcase my portfolio and resume for freelance and contract opportunities. For the last 5 of the 10 ten years, I’ve been posting to Modular 4, I’ve been saying to myself I really need to create a separate site that is exclusively focused on the work I’ve been doing and remove the portfolio and resume form here. Unfortunately, life just always got in the way. I’d think about it, procrastinate, fiddle around with a new site layout, get caught up in something else, forget about it, try to come back to it and never actually get anything done.

Well, guess what? I finally got off my butt and got something done. The new site for Wade Johnston Graphic Design features projects that I have worked on over the last 10 plus years, and services offered. It took me long enough, but the site is finally live. So I’m tooting my own horn and saying I’m open for business. That’s a bit of a lie though, I’ve been open and doing design business for the last 30 years. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to new opportunities though, so if you need design and advertising help give me a shout. I’ll be updating the new site regularly with new featured projects and projects that showcase specific skills, so if you are interested check back every so often. I’m also in the process of connecting the new SquareSpace site to my social media accounts so new pages and posts should start populating publically soon.

I’ll continue to post here but within the next few weeks, the menu items for my portfolio and resume will be removed. This website will continue to be what it has been for the last decade, a place where I can sound off about whatever I want, however, I want. If you have been one of the people that have read my posts here over the last 10 years, thanks. I really appreciate it.

If you hop over to the new site, I hope you like what you see.

Creating Hyper-Real Sports Indents for AD Sports TV.

In 2015 Dubai UAE based Les Follies Design Haus, commissioned Frame to create eight over the top idents for the re-launch of the Abu Dhabi sports channel AD Sports TV. This is a series that I somehow missed when it dropped. The look is absolutely outstanding. The first video below is the behind the scenes recap explaining how Frame pulled this off. The second is the directors cut of the indents.

In a collaboration with Obeida Sidani, Executive Creative Director at Les Folies, Director and Creative Director Anders Schroder at Frame came up with the idea of having top athletes of various sports performing in the streets with the iconic buildings of night-time Abu Dhabi as the backdrop. As they are performing the surroundings would transform into their respective playing fields.

The team at Frame creative directed, conceptualized and animated the transforming floors under the athlete and the particle systems around them.

Anders wanted a still photography HDR look that would be the polar opposite of the popular organic film look with shallow depth of field and handheld camera shake. He wanted to achieve a look that was almost synthetic and videogame-like with extreme angles and razor sharp infinite focus but all achieved in-camera. A look that would be synonymous with high performance rather than the performers themselves.

To take its a step further Anders suggested to recreating this look in live action. The technique is based on the idea of shooting with multiple exposures and then combine them in post. Furthermore, Anders wanted to shoot high-speed with zero motion blur and considering this was a night shoot which added tremendously to the difficulty.

Together with DP Zubin Mistry they asked themselves: How do we shoot fast paced action high-speed, everything in focus, no motion blur, at night, with both the buildings and the sky and athlete fully exposed?

The answer was motion control, an insane lighting package, Master Primes wide angles, Phantom Flex 4K, and lots of compositing. Using the motion control rig they filmed each shot in several passes moving the massive light rigs out of the shot each time background and buildings were being shot. The motion control rig enables the team to be able to squeeze in another cool gimmick; slow motion athletes in the foreground and time lapse cityscapes in the backgrounds – in the same shot!

The result is a spectacular and hyper-real look that feels almost CG-like even though most of it was shot in camera.

The Time Shop for Chick-Fil-A

I’m probably going to be the odd man out here, but I’m not a fan of Chick-Fil-A. Not for politically correct reasons. I simply don’t like their fast food. Now, with that said it doesn’t mean the don’t have some great advertising. Marie Hyon, of Psyop has pulled out all the stops in her latest work for the chicken chain crafting “The Time Shop” which extends the message of “Together Time” that McCann put together for Chick-Fil-A this holiday season.

This is such a great example of excellent copy/script writing, high production value animation, and a well thought out concept being brought to fruition for the holiday season. The video below is the full two minute online version of the piece. I haven’t seen the 60, 30, and 15 edits. It’ll be interesting to see how they maintain the storyline through the broadcast versions, especially the 15 second cut.

Director: Marie Hyon
Executive Producer: Justin Booth-Clibborn
Senior Producer: Suzie Cimato
Assistant Producer: Simone Miller
Designer: Victorior Wanchana Intrasombat, Pedro Lavin, Samantha Ballardini, Felipe Hansen, Robin Joseph, Andrew Serkin, Dionisius Bangun, Marie Hyon
Storyboard Artist: Ben Chan
Lead Technical Director: Briana Franceschini
Previz Artist: Pat Porter, Nick Dubois, Doug Litos,
Modeler: Eric Cunha, David Soto,Anne Yang, Ieva Callender, Briana Franceschini, Brian Kim, Chris Santoianni, Pedro Conti, Kevin Ferrara, Ryan Kirkwood, Casey Reuter, Krista Albert
Additional Modeling: Aldrich Torres, Nitesh Nagda, Leonstudio, Basilic Fly
Look Dev/Lighter: Ieva Callender, Briana Franceschini, Matthias Bauerle, Eric Cunha, Brian Kim, Thao Dan Nguyen Phan, Anne Yang, Kwan Au, Susie Hong
Lead Animator: Pat Porter
3D Animator: Nick Dubois, Doug Litos
Lead Rigger: Zed Bennett
Rigger: Ohad Bracha, Daishi Takishima
Groom FX: Eric Cunha, Ieva Callender, Briana Franceschini, Chris Santoianni
VFX: Eban Byrne
Cloth/Hair Sim: Jordan Harvey, Scott Hubbard, Daishi Takishima
2D Lead: Matthias Bauerle
Compositor: Aaron Baker, Matthias Bauerle, Herculano Fernandes, Manu Gaulot, Lane Jolly, Tingting Li, Carl Mok
Compositor Assistant: Keigo Tanaka
Matte Painter: Felipe Hansen, Pedro Lavin, Marie Hyon
Editor: Loren Christiansen

“The Finish Line”. Honda’s Amazing Formula One Racing Promotion.

Four things I like. Good Design, auto racing, animation/motion graphics, and high-quality video production. When these elements combine into something that epically leverages all of them it’s hard to contain myself. 

I love this video. I’m not sure who the production company was behind it, or if Honda did this in house but the end result is spectacular. The video showcases Honda’s involvement in Formula One racing opening with racing legend Richie Ginther at the wheel of the Honda RA272, which won Honda’s first F1 race at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix. The car then morphs into Ayrton Senna’s iconic MP4/4 from 1988 making its way around the narrow corners of the Monaco Grand Prix. Then the animation jumps all the way to 2006 when Jenson Button won the Hungarian Grand Prix at the wheel of Honda’s own F1 car and team. From there we cut to Max Verstappen and his heroic win at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix, and then again at the German Grand Prix.

The piece is interlaced with live-action footage from the races, highly stylized animation, nice use of typography, all built on a limited color pallet of red, black, yellow, blue and white. The style of the animation has a nice graphic novel look, that is matched perfectly to the driving music and soundtrack of engine sounds, crowd, and announcer overlays that help pull the whole thing together. The small details like the speed lines that emanate from the bold titles and the insertion of the Japanese text is a really nice visual design touch that is carried throughout the entire video.

Well done Honda. This is one of the better promotional pieces I’ve seen for Formula One. I’m not sure where this is going to run but I have a feeling during broadcast F1 races. It has a run length of 60 seconds and could be edited down to a 30, or even a 15-second spot if needed.

The high production value on this is sure to pay off. So a solid spot.

BETC Rebuilds The World With Lego and Some Help from Traktor

For the first time since the 1980s, Lego has unveiled its first brand campaign. Produced by the French agency BETC in conjunction with multi-award winning collective Traktor the project titled Rebuild the World features a live-action film and micro-site designed to send a positive political message about the power of creativity to enable change.

BETC met Lego 18 months ago and worked with the brand’s internal agency to develop the concept, Rebuild the World. “We thought about what would be important for Lego to say today,” said BETC founder Rémi Babinet. “They are one of the most loved brands in the world, no one argues with Lego! It’s like Apple in the beginning; innovation and creativity are both brand and philosophy. That’s rare in the commercial world. The problem it has is that while it is known for the educational aspect of Lego, that perception is a problem for all the parents who don’t have an affinity with the brand. They think it’s about following instructions. But it’s more than play or education – it’s about creativity. To be creative today is the way to achieve something, to navigate the new world. Mathematics and rationality used to be the most important skills, but now creativity is the most valuable skill, and Lego can enable that.”

The tagline “Rebuild the World” resonates beyond Lego itself, to chime with the issues of the contemporary world. 

It is a tag line that everyone can relate to when associating it with the Lego brand.

In keeping with the campaign message, the video goes against expectations by not featuring a single Lego brick. Instead, it is a live-action and CGI adventure caper that sees a rabbit chased by a hunter with a bow and arrow, overcoming every challenge thrown at him with increasingly creative solutions. This was inspired by Lego’s ethos for problem-solving. BETC chose to go down the live-action route because, as Rémi states, “When you are in the head of a child, the bricks become the real world, the world they create with Lego is a real story for them.”

Rebuild the World Micro-Site

Every tiny detail of the film has been considered to reflect the Lego universe and its billions of fans. In the town of Valparaíso in Chile, buildings were repainted to match Lego brick colors. Clothes worn by all the characters in the video are 2D printed like Lego characters. If you look at the bad guy, his shirt, tie, jacket, and binoculars are all printed onto one T-shirt. 

The cars and trees match the cars and trees of a Lego kit. The people bend backward at the hip or turn their head around just like Lego people do. Every scene features a builder to reference the iconic Lego figurine. At one point, a line of ducks crosses the road, which references Lego’s first-ever product. Even the props, such as the camera, cups and the bow and arrow, are made to scale, oversized like Lego accessories.

“There were no limits,” Rémi says. “Lego was a cool brand to work with. It was an opportunity to find things you can never do with other brands. So this film is about what your imagination can do with Lego.”

For all the out-of-home imagery and animated vignettes, which will roll out globally on billboards from London to Los Angeles, BETC did use Lego bricks, shot by photographers who are used to working on luxury brand campaigns – “We wanted to capture the incredible beauty of the bricks. These images subvert stereotypes, challenge expectations, and at times send political messages. They are simple ideas, but often at a societal level. Rebuild the world could be just for fun, or it could address issues in the world today. You can transform the world as you want. It’s not a political campaign. You could go far with these messages, we tried lots of things… but this is a balance between meaningful and fun. It’s conscious, but in the end, it’s only about kids.” – Rémi Babinet.

The entire campaign is reinforced with a solid micro-site, social media, print, and outdoor campaigns. As we roll into the holiday season, it’ll be interesting to see the shorter 30-second broadcast versions of the ad plus any additional online vignette videos that are produced to bolster the entire campaign.

Gestalten and Monocle Bring You Travel Guides, and Some Videos.

As we roll up to Labor day, people are getting ready for that last summer vacation, taking advantage of the long weekend. I’ve burned all my vacation days for the year so I’ll just be taking one extra day off. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a week or two and go somewhere fun though. And to help find all the cool stuff you’ll want to see and do in the exotic destination of your choice Gestalten has released a whole series of guide books from Monocle.

That isn’t what this is about though. This post is about the way Gestalten has truly learned to use video on the internet to promote its product line. If you pop over to their Vimeo page, there are at least seven videos like the one below. They have them cross posted via their social media channels and if you receive the Gestalten newsletter via email, you would have probably seen links pointing back to all of these which, point back to the Gestalten online store where you can buy the product.

The videos are always well crafted, with a high-quality production value, and because they live on the internet, the media buy is cheap and the reach is far.

Now I have to figure out how to get more vacation time because I want to go to Stockholm.