Over the last ten years, there has been a steady shift on the internet for news agencies and content creators to produce more video. The New York Times has been an absolute champion of this with a steady stream of well-produced documentary news shorts that have bolstered readership and helped the paper transition from a traditional news source to a multimedia powerhouse with content that rivals any broadcast news agency. Another online source that consistently blows me away with animation and visual information is Vox. They are producing some serious animated content that teaches and presents information with a high production value that is engaging and compelling for the viewer. Case in point, the video below on American / Cuban relations dating back to the 1850’s. Even if you aren’t really into history, it’s hard not to be drawn into this video and watch the entire 4 minute animated short. Why? Because it is so well done. Great visuals, solid script, smooth narration, and relevant information about a current event. Hat tip to the producers at Vox. Nicely done.
The New York Times has issued another installment of their “Modern Love” column which focuses on narrated stories about the urban relationship. This installment was produced by Minneapolis based Scott Wenner. The three-minute piece piece below was produced in just 4 weeks with a small crew of just three people including Wenner who did all of the illustration and animation for it. The look and feel truly compliments the narrative component and the audio interview that was supplied to Wenner by the New York Times. Great story telling, and really outstanding visuals. I can’t imagine pulling this off in that short a period of time.
I really like the fact that the New York Times has embraced dynamic media and is actively producing high quality video and animations for their website. They could have been like so many other publications and thought of it as secondary to the rest of their content, but they haven’t. CAse in point is the animated series “Modern Love” and the videos they have released not only to the New York Times website, but to their Vimeo channel ad other social media outlets.
The video below was released about a week ago via the Times. Directed and animated by Brookly based designer Freddy Arenas, the animated short takes the story of two individuals with a significant age difference in their relationship. Through a clever use of visual metaphors and visual illusions, the short film talks about the devotion of love in the face of adversity and challenges. The piece has a really nice look to it without taking away from the voiceover and the message the narrators set forth. Hat tip to both the New York Times, and Arenas for a job well done.
One of the really nice things about the ubiquity of high-speed internet connections being available for everything from your phone to your TV set is the fact that promotional advertising is getting better. What I mean by this is, the fact that rich content that is longer than thirty seconds is available, and offers a compelling reason to watch. Most fifteen and thirty second spots done for TV follow the same formulaic pattern, and are easily tuned out, skipped, or muted rendering them virtually worthless. People pay a ton of money to have an ad produced and shown to an audience that isn’t paying attention. The point of this being, that in the new world order of converged media, you now have the option to create a longer form of promotional advertising that is engaging, and tells a story.
Back in February Joe Donaldson released an animated short for the New York Times, that received a ton of accolades for the quality of the animation, and the story telling component. That video inspired Julie Morris at Morris Grassfed Beef to contact him about creating an animated short promoting their new online ordering system. The video that they produced goes far beyond a simple instructional promo spot. It tells a story about how Morris Grassfed Beef was started, the quality of the product, where and how they deliver, and how to order online.
Donaldson’s animation and illustrative style, combined with a great script and solid narration help to break the mold and give the audience a compelling reason to watch the entire spot. At a minute and fifteen seconds, the video below demonstrates how a longer format ad can hook and hold an audience. The cadence and flow of the spot, timed to well executed visuals and high production value show how effective storytelling can be in long format advertising.
Oh and this piece was created in 4 weeks with no revisions. A complete explanation of the work process Donaldson employed can be found on Motionographer.
Over the last ten years, the New York Times has been transitioning from an online news paper, to a dynamic media powerhouse, featuring some of the best short films on the internet. In the last couple of years, the production value of their shorts has reached the same level as the journalism it supports. The video below is a prime example of what I am talking about. Part of a series of five films commissioned by the New York Times Magazine’s “The Lives They Lived” issue, which commemorates people who died this year this film focuses on Johnny “Spider” Footman who was New York’s oldest taxi driver. Spider tells a great story, and has a great message for a Monday morning. The film by Joshua Z Weinstein that this short is based on can be found here. The trailer for it is below.
This little piece for the New York Times was produced by Designer: Johnny Kelly and Nexus. Bright colorful flat design that pulls from book to book creating a series of scenes that cover the range of the New York Times’ annual ‘Holiday Books’ Book Review. From the credit lines on Vimeo, it looks as though this was designed, animated, and rendered in 3D. You’d never know by the very distinct 2D look. For maximum effect, watch it full screen.
Production Company: Nexus
Director + Designer: Johnny Kelly
Producer: Isobel Conroy
Project Lead: Mark Davies
Animation: Sergei Shabarov, Michal Firkowski, Fabrice Fiteni, Mark Davies
3D Rendering: Michal Firkowski, Jeremi Boutelet, Mark Davies
3D Modeller: Florent Rousseau
Compositing: Elliott Kajdan
Client: New York Times Book Review
Art Direction: Nicholas Blechman
Music & Sound Design: David Kamp
What do you do when you are in a dying business as a print based content provider; when your reader base is shifting to all digital, and primarily mobile and tablet driven resources? In the case of the New York Times, you restrict access to your content and try to drive people back to reading your physical newspaper. Say what? Yes you read that right. Apparently the New York Times thinks this won’t drive any readers away.
Starting June 27th the New York Times is going to limit the number of articles any non-paper subscriber can read on iOS, Android and Windows powered devices. The strategy is to try and encourage readers to subscribe to the print version. If you do, you get full access to all articles on the New York Times site at no extra charge. I say good luck with that, because your readership has left the print world behind. (Doesn’t a newspaper make more money off of ads than through subscriptions anyway? Hmmmm.)
Under the new set up, non subscribers will be able to read a maximum of three articles per day, from twenty five sections of the online paper including blogs and slideshows. Once the limit has been reached, users will be asked to pay for a subscription to further access content.
Up till the 27th, readers who have not subscribed have complete freedom of the “Top News” sections. After the 27th you’ll have an increase in choices of sections, but a lessened allowance of accessible content. Video content for all areas of the site still remains available and free for all.
To ease users into this change, the publication is planning a seven day free trial run when downloading the updated version of the Android or iOS app. I’d really like to see the numbers on how this shakes out for the New York Times over the next year. I’d bet they get very few converts, and possibly lose readership overall.