Recently, GoodSide received a call from Bill, a Senior Creative at Dell. We’ve done some great work with Bill and the Dell team in the past, so when he said “I have a creative idea for a video, and we’d like your help producing it. Want to hear more?” I replied with an enthusiastic “Yes I do!”
The purpose of the video is show the benefits of managing your data with the tools available from Dell and DataFrameworks. Big data users, such as a Hollywood animation studio use these tools to archive files from their fastest, most expensive drives to more economical storage once a project is done.
Bill’s idea was to use a holiday decorations metaphor. Rather than keeping all of your holiday decorations out all year long, you feature them in a prime location at the appropriate time, then store them in a more out-of-the-way location for the rest of the year. It’s the same concept with Data – keep it front and center when it’s in use, then archive it when dormant.
Bill had a pretty clear idea of what he wanted to see, and I liked his vision; I just had to think about how to produce it. There clearly needed to be some live video segments, but other parts would be better served by stop motion animation. Bill and I both appreciate the aesthetic of Wes Anderson, so we designed the shots to match his symmetrical, quirky style.
There wasn’t a huge budget, so everyone worked together to make the most of our resources. We shot at Bill’s house, and at Dell’s office in Seattle. Bill’s colleague Erich stepped up to play the one speaking role, while Scott and André from Dell’s in-house video production team helped with planning, and assisted with the shoots, and created some of the visual effects.
The shoot took two days – one to shoot at Dell’s headquarters, where we captured the “Storage Unit” scene (green screen) and the “Garage” scene, then another day for the mantle shoot.
The mantle shoot required both stop motion and live action video, so I knew it would be a full day. I added two reliable crew members; Mark and Ryan, who came with the skills, intelligence and great attitude to help make the shoot a success.
One challenge we faced was matching the stop motion to live action video. With stop motion, there’s no reverse gear and no “Command-Z” button (that’s “Control-Z” for you PC users). It was essential that, once we started, the camera remain completely stable and still, and that props only moved when and how we wanted.
First, Mark and Ryan lit the set, then Mark and I worked together to animate the objects, while I controlled the camera remotely from an iPad.
I shot two proof-of-concept tests in the days before this shoot, and I knew the action would fly by faster than we expected. It was important that each object only make a tiny motion in each frame to make animation time correctly to the narration. We shot the stop motion and main live motion video with a Canon 6D, and used a C-100 for the cut away shot. By using the same camera for the stop motion and main video, we were able to make them match by not moving the camera between the two. You can see this at 1:07 in the video.
We worked fast and furious to finish the stop motion so Erich would have ample time for his live action segment. Fortunately, he did a brilliant job. He knew his lines and brought great humor to his character without ever getting in the way of the message.
The stop motion lined up with the live video, the pull-down screen shots worked and post production went smoothly. Most importantly, the client’s message is perfectly clear and compelling. Stop motion proved to be a great way of packing a lot of information into a fun, compelling video.