We worked with Tangible to create a highlight reel that showcases their marketing campaign for the release of Resident Evil 6. To show the strong audience engagement and overall buzz around this announcement, we combined assets from the game itself, viral marketing content, and imagery of fan participation through both social media and live events. This video also needed to convey a lot of information, including many metrics, to effectively tell the story of the campaign’s success. To keep it lively and in line with the Resident Evil 6 brand, we used graphic effects and incorporated sound design from the game. It was a fun challenge to take this beyond a presentation video and edit a reel with the look and feel of a trailer.
Here’s the special version of the video we cut just for the awards ceremony, held in April at the Game Marketing Summit:
Michael Moore’s heartfelt, sprawling exploration of guns in America feels both fresh and dated, raw and rehearsed. Only first watching it eleven years after its release, it was interesting to see which techniques worked and which fell flat. Although innovative at the time, the narrated, tightly edited and humorous montage sequences — mashing up old newsreels, NRA promos, TV news segments and popular culture — that contextualize the issues made me feel distanced from the characters, those directly affected by gun violence. Did it feel tired because we’re tired, or in fact exhausted, by gun violence and the national debate over gun control?
Looking back over a decade, I went in wanting to know what happened in Columbine, to remember it as it felt at the time, and perhaps gain fresh perspective on it in light of more recent tragedies. But at the time, Moore didn’t need to tell us what happened there — we knew all that already. He used it as a springboard to assemble a densely layered look at one of America’s most contentious social and political issues and, as is his talent, to point out its absurdities and contradictions.
I was most affected by the interviews with real people whose lives had been touched by gun violence and the times when Moore collaborated with them in telling their stories, especially taking two victims of the Columbine shootings to Walmart headquarters so they could ask the corporation to stop selling guns and ammunition.
It’s hard to say now whether this film moved the needle in the gun control debate, but Michael Moore definitely provoked conversations and opened the door for many other filmmakers to do so on other issues.
The end of winter can never come quickly enough for us, so it’s a good thing this final stretch has been packed with production. We almost didn’t notice it’s snowing again. Almost.
While we wait for this last storm to pass, a few recent video highlights:
In early February we livestreamed an inspiring conversation hosted by the Center for Public Scholarship — watch as Chen Guangcheng talks about the rule of law and his experience as a lawyer and human rights activist in China.
To mark the anniversary of Betty Friedan’s landmark book, The New School hosted The Feminine Mystique at 50. We were there to document both the symposium and art exhibition, film interviews with participants, and livestream the second day’s panel discussions. We’re now working with the event organizers to create a short film about the event.
We’ve said it a million times and we’ll say it again. We love hearing people talk about their craft: it’s amazing how much you can learn, even from someone in a completely different field. That’s how we have felt after filming and editing each of the three interviews so far in the Inside the Business of Design series with Keith Granet. Interior designer Charlotte Moss spoke about her early years, where she is today, and what it takes to manage people. In February, Keith talked with architect Mark Ferguson, whose insights about the early years growing his firm resonated with our own experience:
The fourth interview is coming up this Thursday with designer Bunny Williams and new videos are released every Tuesday.
Documenting events for the Vera List Center for Art and Politics also keeps us inspired — check out their fantastic new website and online archives and the most recent additions: this Public Art Fund Talk by Thomas Schütte and, in the Subjective Histories of Sculpture series hosted with SculptureCenter, Agnieska Kurant and Allison Smith:
The past few weeks also took us to the New York Hall of Science to interview teachers, to a meeting of brilliant handbag designer minds, and to the premiere party for the new Oxygen show “The Face” to assist FakeLove with live visuals on the venue’s mammoth LED screens. Videos from these projects, and more, coming soon.
As for our own documentary viewing, here’s what we’ve watched lately: Open Heart and Redemption (both nominated for Oscars this year), Frankensteer, After Newtown, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Man on a Mission, and a sneak preview of “We Cause Scenes,” the new documentary about Improv Everywhere that premiered at SXSW.
Things we like:
- When your spouse is your creative business partner. Yes, obviously we like this as an idea, but also this post, since people ask ALL THE TIME how we work together, and this couple sums up a lot of what we experience every day.
- Given the volume of documentation and media assets we create for our clients, it only makes sense that we spend a lot of time thinking about archives and keeping up on the best strategies for archive preservation and management. Really, we do the fun stuff so you don’t have to, but if you want to geek out with us, read this Primer on Codecs for Moving Image and Sound Archives.
- Watch a documentary a day. That’s what David France did before making his Oscar nominated documentary, “How to Survive a Plague.” We stand in great awe and admiration of this disciplined practice.
These are words we have come to take for granted after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan, but “Restrepo” brings them back into sharp focus as it follows the life and service of a US military platoon deployed to the Korengal Valley. We finally watched this Academy Award nominated film after letting it linger on our need-to-see list for too long. It isn’t artful; most of it is not even cinematic. The cameras, which “got smashed into rocks, clogged with dirt, and hit with shell cartridges during firefights” were clearly chosen more for durability than image quality. But “Restrepo” is important and raw and immersive and outstanding.
Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington wrote in their directors’ statement that “their lives were our lives,” and that sentiment and perspective comes through at all times in the film. “Restrepo” is simply an intensely gripping document of this platoon’s experience that left us feeling like we spent fifteen months in Afghanistan, yet highly aware that we did not.
We watched “Restrepo” on Netflix Instant Streaming; it is also available from iTunes and on DVD and Blu-ray.
The passion the original Star Wars trilogy inspires in its fans is unparalleled; but when it comes to George Lucas himself, many have found their ardor has cooled into a complicated love-hate relationship. This hilarious, heartfelt documentary delves deep into Lucas’s cultural legacy, asking all the tough questions. Has Lucas betrayed his masterwork? Should he just have left the original trilogy alone? Is The Phantom Menace so bad it should carry a health warning? Utilizing interviews taken from over 600 hours of footage, and peppered with extraordinary Star Wars and Indiana Jones recreations lovingly immortalized in song, needlepoint, Lego, claymation, puppets and paper-mâché, above all this film asks the question: who truly owns that galaxy far, far away—the man who created it, or the fans who worship it?
It must have been a giant pain in the ass to crowdsource and edit together so many fan films and works of art by Star Wars devotées and for that we give the filmmakers credit. But, despite its open-ended question about “who truly owns the galaxy far, far away,” this documentary failed in convincing us to care in the first place that Star Wars fans have a beef with George Lucas’s handling of his films, or that his work has sparked and encouraged fans to become filmmakers and artists, or to care that fan art and remix culture even exist. By not making a case for any of these, we were left only to know of a subculture, but not why it matters.
“Man on a Mission” could be a fitting title for many documentaries. It works, apparently, for a documentary about a man trying to make it in the private space industry. It applies to Charlie Todd, the subject of a new documentary about the group he founded (Improv Everywhere) and the surprising and delightful missions they stage in public. We’ll be writing about “We Cause Scenes” in a separate post (and soon). But the “Man on a Mission” we watched this week is about the dominance of Kenyan long distance runners and Brother Colm O’Connell, the Irish missionary who has coached them to dozens of championships and world records.
This is a solid sports documentary and, as a runner, it’s nearly impossible not to be inspired and fascinated by the training methods of such elite athletes. It appears to have been made for Irish television, shot entirely in Kenya in an interview style with Irish runner Eamonn Coghlan hosting and interviewing Brother Colm and the runners.
You can watch the entire film for free on Vimeo:
In a different way, “Man on a Mission” also describes the subject of “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” which we happened to catch on PBS this week, although it’s also available on Netflix Instant Streaming and DVD. It’s a well-made documentary, worthy of its many accolades, particularly considering it’s the filmmaker’s first feature and the story’s not an easy one to craft. It’s a little too long and, at times, the hazards of exceptional access to a subject come through: it feels like the director set out to make a documentary about Ai Weiwei the artist, then discovered a second story of Ai Weiwei the activist, and had trouble sacrificing some for the other. Even so, Ai is an interesting enough character that the viewer doesn’t mind too much getting such a close look at both facets.