Today’s Friday Video Awesome: The Tilt Shift Playfulness of “Bath Tub IV”

Last week, the Guggenheim Museum debuted “YouTube Play”: an exhibit of twenty-five videos curated from the all but limitless content of this video website which provides over two billion clip views each day.  Seriously: two billion views, every single day.  Try to imagine that for a moment, but understand, you can’t.

Instead, start with this little three and a half minute exercise in tilt shift charm: Keith Loutit’s finalist entry, “Bathtub IV.”

If you want more of this marvelous, miniaturizing effect, check out Keith’s Vimeo page here.  If this piqued your curiosity about the Guggenheim show, check out the other twenty-four finalists here.  And of course, as always, Happy Friday.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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So My Friend Marty Invited Me To Watch Lindsay Lohan Having Sex With A HOT Girl…

So did my friend Bill.  And Kevin.   And yes, Pam too.  All of which was odd since none of them ever demonstrated a pronounced pervy streak.  Certainly not one strong enough to compel them to schedule a pornshow at 10:21 am on a weekday. But that wasn’t the only odd Facebook Event invite I’ve received lately.

Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79Last week, a couple of guys I work with in the film industry seemed obsessed by CLIP OF HORRIFIC BUNGEE JUMPING ACCIDENT and they too, invited me to share their dark and depraved tastes via Facebook.  Separately, both wanted to know if I’d be attending their randomly-timed screening of the presumably gruesome clip: Yes?  No?  Maybe?

It doesn’t take an IT genius to realize someone’s hacking lots of Facebook accounts and sending out these titillating come-ons in hopes of having intrigued (or dumbfounded) people open the links out of pure curiosity.  This continual annoyance poses a far more immediate threat to Facebook than Jesse Eisenberg’s big screen interpretation of Mark Zuckerberg’s evil nerdery.  But what really gets me is that somewhere, somebody is trying to write the most compelling, come-on headlines to lure the unaware and all they can come up with is sex and violence.  They don’t even have the creativity to mash those two into something more singular like say “HORRIFIC Linsday Lohan Sex Tape Accident.”

“Wolf Blitzer Attends G-8 Summit in Mime” “Baby Pitches No Hitter” “Jimmie Johnson’s NASCAR Launch off the USS Enterprise”…these are things I want to see.  Seriously, use some imagination, account hackers.

Even as I finish this post, another one just came in from my friend Mitch, inviting me to the event “SHOCKING McDonald’s Video.”  It’s on today, at 9:51 pm.  And somehow, I bet it involves Hamburglar…never trusted his creepy little laugh.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Can’t It Just Be A Product, Not A Value Judgement?

Political advertising depresses me.  All the accusations and mudslinging make me worry for the future of civility in our increasingly shout-driven culture.  I plan to vote for at least two candidates based solely on the tone of their radio advertising–call me Pollyanna, but it’s the only way I can reward behavior I endorse.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingSo I was almost too burned out to care this past Monday when Advertising Age posted an article that purported to delineate the differences between red brands and blue brands.  Apparently, certain consumer goods earn the preference of one political party over another.  Or at least, that’s what the pollsters at YouGov believe, after publishing their latest BrandIndex survey.

As someone who has sworn off all non-sports television viewing until after the election, this data feels like yet another unnecessarily divisive issue for this country. Okay, so Google is the number one brand for Democrats and yet it doesn’t even make the Republican’s Top Ten…  And Fox News is top for Republicans while it certainly doesn’t make the Democrats Top, well, pick an integer…  How does knowing this bring anything positive to the debate?

To me, YouGov’s truly interesting findings are the universal brands like UPS, FedEx, Craftsman, and Cheerios.  What makes them successful in a non-partisan way?  What gives them cross-aisle appeal?  Not being a researcher, I don’t have a ready reply, but those are questions worth asking, whether you’re a brand or a candidate.

Maybe the way to increase your appeal to everybody is to focus on what we have in common, on what we share, rather than on how hard the other side sucks eggs. It’s just a thought…

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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For LeBron, The Court Will Have The Greatest Impact on The Court of Public Opinion

In his eminently readable book Which Lie Did I Tell?, legendary author, screenwriter and script doctor William Goldman discusses how the very things that made Michael Douglas a strong producer made him a liability in the dual role of producer/lead actor for “The Ghost and the Darkness.”  Douglas pushed Goldman to expand his character’s role, giving him a backstory to explain his motivations and character flaws…and it killed the movie.  No one cared, and it kinda made Douglas’ hunter character a wimp.  Clint Eastwood never explains the source of his pain or personal demons–he just works through them and lets you figure it out.  Otherwise, it sounds too much like whining…

This new ad from Nike for LeBron James immediately called to mind that anecdote.  As you’d expect, this spot is well-produced.  It’s charmingly acted.  It’s engaging with the pop culture Miami references.  Still…he just kind of bugs me now.

Oh I like it.  But I kind of hate myself for liking it.

I understand Nike needs to protect their investment.  They need to polish the James brand. But as clever as this is, it’s a band-aid on a chest wound.  Ultimately, LeBron can only fix his image on the court.  Quit whining, quit explaining, get over your own damn self and play.

Until then, he’s only gonna generate fan reactions like evanw3’s comment on another blog: “Lebron’s phone is always on vibrate….it too does not have a ring.”

Ouch.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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PS:  Thanks to Prashant Nashi for sending this video my way.

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The Social Not-Working Phenomenon

Last week, a Facebook friend posted this very telling status update: “The window of time in which my mind is really working is getting smaller everyday.”  Ouch.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingWe used to work together and this guy’s definitely not a slacker–he is however, truly candid.  And he speaks for a lot of us these days.  Between Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds and website aggregators, we spend so much time staying connected that it’s hard to get anything done.  We’re so busy keeping up that we can hardly keep up.

Two separate experiences this weekend threw this growing time management issue into sharp relief.  First, a friend took me to a booksigning for “In With The Devil” at a home in River Forest on Saturday night. Learning about a book from the author is always fascinating but what intrigued me even more was the homeowner, or more importantly, the projects he cranks out of his garage workshop.  He and my friend had already collaborated on hand building two wood strip canoes–a feat of craftsmanship that bowled me over.  But now, he’s in the midst of building a personal submarine.  In his garage.  By himself.

I feel productive when I make dinner–I can’t begin to imagine researching and then slowly assembling a submersible watercraft powered by electric trolling motors.  I left the host’s house astonished by the ingenuity coming together just on the other side of his unremarkable garage door.

Second, I read John Lopez’ piece in the Arts & Entertainment section of the Sunday Chicago Tribune.  He described how writers, artists and musicians struggle to step away from the relentless e-stream, and the toll this constant distraction can take on their craft.  This challenge affects many people in our increasingly digital world, but it hits creative people particularly hard.   Realizing a personal vision requires dropping deeply into the work, and our overwired lifestyle fights that with every new text message.  Isn’t it interesting how neither the screenwriter (Aaron Sorkin) nor the two lead actors (Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake) of The Social Network use Facebook at all.  Hmmm…

A few years ago, pundits claimed that a sign of true power was to not be reachable.  These days, a sign of true will power is to not reach out.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Friday Video Awesome: Pick Your Flavor

One of Carlos Castaneda’s better known quotes reads:

“The trick is what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy.  The amount of work is the same.”

So for those that emphasize the miserable, enjoy (if that’s the right word) this compilation of FAIL.  And know that if these videos get any more widespread, Congress and some hyper-litigious lawyers will soon move to outlaw BMX biking, skateboarding and rope swinging.  Those Jackass guys well represent a nation that’s long on video cameras and short on common sense…

On the other hand, if you accentuate the positive, you might prefer this compilation of WIN: close calls where bystanders, or actively foolish candidates for the Darwin Awards, somehow cheat tragedy by mere fractions of an inch…

Either way, Happy Friday.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Humanizing Advertising

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79It’s the little things that make you happy during the workweek.  And approval from our Banquet client for this print ad makes me happy.  It’s not outrageous, it doesn’t court controversy, but this ad does counterpoint a wry headline and a shot of a little boy praying at the dinner table.  And so many brand people would decide that it’s just easier not to go there and insist on some other execution.  Which might be fine, it just wouldn’t be this.  More than likely they would insist on overcorrecting with something inoffensively drawn from the middle of the road, and thus less noticeable and memorable.  Which is the real problem with too much advertising today.

I don’t know if you pray; I do–as a Notre Dame football fan, it’s kind of a requirement.  I pray about all kinds of things; most days just in thanks that in this fortunate country, I can make my commute without anyone shooting at me.

But in the stylized world of advertising, we usually leave little behaviors like mealtime prayer out because it can be ‘polarizing.’  Same goes for strong regional accents, dented cars, and  pets that shed.  Idiosyncrasies like these don’t square with a smooth, idealized image.  Happily, the trend toward greater authenticity encourages representing real life, imperfections and all; it just feels true.  And that engages people.  I have never cast anyone with a luxuriant mutton chop/mustache combo, but people seemed to really take notice of the aggressively offbeat Jimmy McMillan.

For all its surface mundanity, our daily life and the people that populate it are wildly original and infinitely varied.  Finding ways to capture even a portion of that helps keep the ‘life’ in ‘lifestyle’ ads.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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“It Gets Better” — The Print Advertising Edition

The year was 1976.  The client was Faberge Fragrances.  And the advertising creatives were no doubt male and abundantly mustached.  This was their magic.

Never has a headline provided such an unwittingly accurate assessment.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago Advertising

“Powerful” indeed.  If. for some unknown reason, vintage phallo-centric advertising is your thing, you can find the ad for sale on eBay here: the first ten bucks (plus three for shipping) will get it.

But I never will.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Unrealistic Body Issues? It Just Got Worse…

Some people believe the advertising industry puts undue pressure on people, particularly younger girls, through imagery that sets unhealthy expectations of body shape.  Critics contend that continually showcasing thin waisted, large busted, endlessly legged women whose body types represent only the tiniest fraction of humanity causes everything from eating disorders to unnecessary plastic surgery.

It’s hard for me to feel particularly bad about that as we sell imagery for Harris Bank and Central DuPage Hospital, but I can see their point.  Unfortunately for them, things are only get worse as services like MovieReshape hit the video post market.  The rather dry video below explains the process behind their body-morphing technology but you only need to watch the first ten seconds to get the point.

So watch the first ten seconds to get the point.  And be afraid.  Be very, very afraid.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Could Somebody Please Explain Moire Patterns to the J. Crew Art Directors

Back in the day, anyone working in video knew not to dress on-camera performers in striped shirts: when the talent moved, the resolution of the camera combined with narrow shirt stripes often created a distracting moire pattern.

But times change, technology advances and with the dawn of HD, such primitive concerns fade away…  Except a lot of internet graphics still operate at a pretty low dots-per-inch ratio.  Which may explain this little bit of FAIL on the J. Crew website.  Surf here and type “Lace Tights” into the search field.  You will find one of two images.  One of them is very innocuous: ‘hey, whaddya know, lace tights…

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79

The other image however, is a bit more problematic.  Because the lacy pattern on the tights creates a moire, and the end result is, well, kind of hairy.

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79Like, really hairy…

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79I don’t pretend to know fashion, but I’m pretty sure, no one at J. Crew actually believes offering women legs that look like mine will ring the register.  At least, God I hope not…

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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