As soon as I saw the first IBM Watson national spot where they had people conversing with Watson in creative ways, I knew I wanted to do something with it (since IBM is a big client of my company and we have free reign to try new stuff sometimes). The TV spots had cool settings with very visual surroundings, and very unique looking people (from a cute little girl to Bob Dylan) which I thought would turn out really well in some cool motion graphic treatment across a large-scale videowall. The commercials also featured some good tag lines around cognitive business and also good witty banter between Watson and the featured person. A great challenge to turn it into digital content.
My first opportunity was for a much wider digital canvas, a 7 portrait screen array which is about 3 times the width of HD. But this wasn’t a hindrance, as its a normal thing we do and actually gives you a lot of freedom in creating supporting graphical treatments to surround any existing HD footage or maybe use to put some title text or supporting messaging.
The biggest challenge on these were the audio because the videowall we were creating content for didn’t have the audio turned on due to it being in a corporate lobby and not wanting to be overly distracting. But the audio piece was the compelling part of the video which highlights the value and personality of Watson.
So we transcribed the people talking to Watson and figured out how much of it we should try and use and how to show the text on the screen. We decided to have some messaging on one side of the screen, and then for the actual conversation we treated it almost like a text message string or chat client type of format, where each speaking person had a little avatar/headshot with their line. Then each one would animate onto the screen after a few seconds, trying to mimic a conversation, and essentially allow a viewer in this corporate lobby to see this really cool visual piece and then follow along with the text-based conversation.
Here’s a couple examples, the text on the right is too small to read, but it animates through the conversation/audio:
One of the more satisfying things I’ve done from a design execution standpoint … go out and concept a large-scale media wall application from scratch, just based on a client’s new marketing campaign. They don’t even see it coming, but you hit them with some beautiful mockup laid over a photo you took on your last visit. They usually freak out a little, and then often seem a bit timid to ask how much its going to cost them, like we can’t tell they want it no matter what.
The beauty of how to do this, especially when talking about large-scale media walls which can be over 10,000 pixels wide, is to make sure you can re-use all the campaign assets from their website and NOT require the client to seek out any original assets which is always a pain for them. I’ll usually download all the graphics from the website before I start concepting in real pixels, so I know how I can blow them up (about twice their resolution at most) and what exact pieces I have to work with per each type of content node I want to include. After that, I get a developer with me and start whiteboarding it out, just to make sure you’re not getting too crazy, everything is working from a data perspective … and at the end of the day, it gets them involved early in case the client wants to pull the trigger quickly, and you always want the developer in a more ‘ownership’ capacity to get the ball rolling on this type of innovative digital media.
ESPN created a new studio set and did it right with some innovative digital experiences. It really seems they wanted to push the limit with the environment and have multiple areas where associated branding, graphics and color could be shown. I absolutely love it, and don’t think its distracting (which would be my worry if planning it). Even though the new host desk seems a little Star Trek-ish, I’m ok with it because the overall feel isn’t too futuristic … which is ironic since Star Trek came out in the 60’s.
One of the signature areas is the large media wall that is the backdrop for one of their main discussion and interview areas. It seems to be around 10 displays wide and 7 displays tall, and have them jutting out at inconsistent levels from each other. At first glance, it seems like a hard idea to swallow with all the extra dimensions, but then I realized that the sides of the displays seem to show (or mirror) the content from that display (or the display next to it). And even though it might just be mirroring some of the content, it still gives the impression of a seamless piece of content and comes across really nice. I will work on getting a tour and seeing this bad boy up close.
I’m pretty sure that I was the only patron at the Jay-z concert who was analyzing the video wall backgrounds on stage. I was pretty impressed with the various executions of style that appeared on the side media walls and background wall. The digital media element was slightly overshadowed by the San Fran background of the bay bridge, water and palm trees but it definitely dominated when it got darker out.
I think the point that made me specially snap a pic was when I noticed they had the camera footage of Jay-z in black and white, just for the affect. It gave off an edgy, ghetto, possibly hip vibe … that I can’t argue that you need since you’re touring with your wifey. It was pretty dramatically different from the girly tones that Beyonce had going (like pink-ish backgrounds).
My old wise Chinese design professor said if I didn’t write this shit down it would vanish in thin air. Note taken, here is my daily discoveries of the ever evolving design world around me.