Archive | October, 2009

Go Forth, Oh Pioneers!

Here are two of my favorite commercials this year. I think more clients need to be bold and brave with their advertising. Take a risk and push a concept instead of letting consensus and focus groups rule your ideation.

Kudos to Mark Fitzloff, Susan Hoffman, Danielle Flagg, Tyler Whisnand, Julia Oh, Rudy Adler and Jeff Selis of Wieden + Kennedy for being one of the few teams at an ad agency willing to eschew safety for chance and make something brand-defining.

Cary Fukunaga, who directed Sin Nombre, filmed these two ads. Both of them take an eerie collection of Americana moments enshrouded mostly in shadow and silhouette, and put them against sparse music and two well-read Walt Whitman poems.

Enjoy!

Levi’s – “America”

Levi’s – “Pioneers!”

Wes Anderson, Indie Email Auteur

The Adventures of Mr. Fox

The Los Angeles Times just published an article entitled, “Fur flies on Mr. Fox,” which details some of the experiences and process of the filming of Wes Anderson’s The Adventures of Mr. Fox. The film appears to be a hipster’s answer to The Nightmare Before Christmas, and reminds me quite a lot of The Wind in the Willows, so much so that one has to wonder if the BBC series from yesteryear wasn’t as much an inspiration as Roald Dahl’s original story.

All of that said, one of the points of controversy was how the film was shot. The film was created using stop-motion photography, a technique where you move objects in front of the camera incrementally, and take still photos of each position, thus creating stop-action movement. The process takes ages, especially once you introduce animated characters, lip sync, and secondary animation in the form of swaying branches or passing cars.

Shot on a stage in London, Wes Anderson (who penned the adaptation after several weeks at Roald Dahl’s estate, researching what made the author “tick”) spent much of the production time nowhere near the set, but from his apartment in Paris instead. His opinion was that he would set the tone, and let the animators do their thing. Whenever there was a sequence finished, the animators would submit them as digital movies, and Anderson would fire back detailed emails with his notes, even filming his own digital movies where he would act out a certain gesture to explain what he was going for.

As a director of stop-motion myself, I can tell you that this is an understandable process. While I don’t agree with an entirely absentee director, it is a bit like watching grass grow to sit on set as the animators work on a given sequence.

Read the article for more insight on the Email Auteur himself.

Sun Sets on the World’s Tallest Man

Watch the progression from one song to the next; as the sun sets on a wintery shoreline; as the singer’s face fades into silhouette. Enjoy the forlorn guitar. Listen closely to the eerie, effortless lyrics. Walk away with a haunted, inspired feeling in your belly.

Thanks to KA-POW! for pointing this out.

The Future: Coming Soon!

VASIMR

Step 1: Fill a chamber with hydrogen gas

Step 2: Ionize that gas until it becomes plasma

Step 3: Heat that plasma up to one million degrees fahrenheit

Step 4: Use a powerful magnet to direct that plasma out of the engine

Step 5: Get from Earth to Mars in 39 days

Yes friends, this is real! There is a company (Ad Astra Rocket Company) developing a rocket which will be able to reach Mars in less than 40 days of travel time. By this math, astronauts might be able to reach the end of our solar system, to the Keiper belt beyond the planet formally known as Pluto, in under one year. The trick is to run the engine on hydrogen, which is a common material in the universe, making refueling possible en route. This enables the viability of deep space missions, making it possible and very probable with in the next couple of decades.

The rocket uses plasma and magnetism to create immense amounts of thrust; plasma is what happens when you charge up a gas and break apart its atoms.

And while there are only nine planets to choose from at present, scientists have discovered hundreds if not thousands of Earth-like planets sitting at the edges of our solar system, just out of sun’s gravitational pull. Once we learn how to move planets into the sun’s orbit, we may have a dozen or more Earth-like planets to choose from for first time home buyers.

The FHA is going to make a killing!

Timber Timbre

Timber Timbre

Tindersticks + Devendra Banhart + M. Ward + Better =
Timber Timbre.

I love this band. They are seriously contending with The Twilight Sad for letter “T” in my 2009 Indie Rock Alphabet. It’s getting vicious already; if you don’t believe me, just ask St. Vincent and Sunset Rubdown.

Here are a few Timber Timbre videos for your aural enjoyment…

Timber Timbre – “We’ll Find Out”

Timber Timbre – “Demon Host”

Timber Timbre – “Oh Messiah”

A Message to Americans…

<rant>

For those liberals and conservatives who think the best way to feel at peace with your views is to criticize the faults of the opposing party, could you try to start thinking for yourselves instead of following the talking points of your party? Perhaps you might have some positive, constructive ideas for the future of your nation. Anything’s possible. Name calling and finger pointing create a stagnant and apathetic society.

Allow me a cliché: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

If I hear one more democrat villify Karl Rove or Rush Limbaugh, or one more conservative ridicule President Obama or Keith Olbermann, I’m going to lose it completely. Really, what’s the point?

Last point, it seems like these health care bills floating around DC are something like the bible: the believers swear by it even if they haven’t even read it. I think this country agrees on reform, and insuring all of our citizens, but we are not Denmark or Sweden, we are America. Each of our states are equal to or larger than those countries, and our economy is much different in complexion.

If the plan is to socialize medicine in America and reform health care, I fear it will require a complete reformation of Washington DC first. Sad but true.

</rant>

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