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Above, Kaka with all eyes on him
The Sony Bravia-drome, the worlds largest zoetrope introduces motion like no other to the world and I was lucky enough to get to check it out for real down in Italy on Thursday night.
Mad men Kodak carousel presentation can now eat it's heart out as the "wheel of life" Zoetrope, a.k.a the 'Daedalum' ('the wheel of the devil) has been enlarged to a whopping 15 meters in diameter for Sony Bravia's presentation of their new motionflow technology to us potential buyers of all things TV. By the way, If you fancy you can build your own wee zoetrope while you curse the fact that you're not working on the Sony account.
The Sony Bravia Drome, as it's called, is officially the world largest zoetrope as the Guinness world record men were there to check the large structure - with an old fashioned tape measure. "We called up Guinness and told them that we were going to do this and asked them to check it for a world record, they responded 'how big?' and when we said 15 meters in diameter they replied 'oh dear, we need to get a new tape measure'" explained a Sony Germany rep whose name I never managed to catch over the loud party mingling. I now know it was Christian Luecke, General Manager, TV Marketing Europe Division, Sony Europe.
We, the invited press peeps, had been dragged around the cold city of Turin all day and were now rewarded with shiny TV company, a suave DJ and fingerfoods in a much warmer tent area as we could watch the commercial being shot just outside the large windows without freezing our arses off. Bless. The extras outside were huddling around the enourmous red lighted strucure, jumping and waving when the camera pointed their way like the audience doing the wave at a football stadium.
Why Italy? Why Turin? Or to be exact, why the smaller town of Venaria outside of Turin? Ben Cyzer, head of the Sony account at Fallon, explains: "Obviously the inspiration was the oldest form of motion, which is the zoetrope, and given now that we're moving to the latest technology in motion we took that inspiration and modernized it, and brought to life The Bravia Drome. It's really no more complicated than that. Like our previous Bravia ideas it requires simplicity and I think this is a very simple idea, dramatizing motion. It's in Turin because Kaká, in the middle of the season, obviously can not travel very far but also, the juxtaposing of the old classic square to the new modern zoetrope adds to the visual idea."
(Much more inside, kids - read on.)
Simon Owen, Creative Director at Fallon said: "It's been a really quick turnaround, I mean, we were only briefed a couple of months back, and now we have all this!" pointing toward to enormous zoetrope outside. When I asked about the Sony Bravia Drome's ability to pack up and move, and suggested that perhaps it might be used at football events in the future with Sony Bravia TV's showing the game he let on that it would be: "Yes, exactly, see her over there, she's planning events for the future, and we could justify spending on a drome of this size because it's not just a once-only thing, they can move this around, have other pictures in it and so on. Count on seeing it again." When I asked " What about the music, what music will we have to this film?" he smiled "I can't tell you that, but there's a shortlist."
Ben Cyzer says: "What is part of Bravias DNA is doing everything for real. We do it for real, we create an event. Both at Fallon and a Sony we have an expression; "Bravia does things the hard way", and I think it's important to note that we're not doing things the hard way for the sake of it, we're doing things the hard way so that we can develop a more genuine, real and immersive experience." He continues; "Obviously that approach amongst others, gets us a lot of attention, and it's very rare that advertising campaigns manage to genuinely infiltrate popular culture, so this is something that we're really proud of."
"Furthermore I think it's a real achievement that in the on line environment we have consumers actively seeking our content and actively sharing our content. Normally advertising tries to interrupt the consumer, we have consumers actually trying to seek us, so that's obviously something that we're very proud of. We've taken something that potentially could have been a very cold and technical story, and we've made it as warm as we possibly could, we've brought a lot of humanity to the Sony brand, the Bravia brand."
Trivia: no matter how many photographs you take of a spinning zoetrope you never quite catch the effect. Duh!
"The last Sony Bravia campaigns were about colour and high definition, which was very relevant in the last three years, but everything evolves. The battleground has changed now, it's moved on. The next battleground is about motion, and motion technology." adds Giles Morrison, the general communications manager of the Bravia brand.
And that's where the footie comes in as Giles continues; "One of the most interesting entertainments for a consumer is of course football. Football is a global sport, it's increasingly wide in it's audience appeal, it's not just a male dominated entertainment platform. Think about the world cup final, it will be watched in person by ten thousand people in the stadium, and seven hundred million people around the world will see it on TV. That is the kind of entertainment that is accessed through the products that we make, and we can add to that experience, make it better for them."
Yikes, it's as if Sony knows me, who spent all summer cursing at the jerky image on my old TV as I watched every game of the cup. (Viva Italia!)
And that's why they're using Kaká - one of the fastest players of the sport also known as OMG! Cute! - his speed on the field and the sport itself is getting faster each year and with my old crummy TV the passing of the ball looks like a jagged blur. Sony's motionflow technology eliminates the jerkyness by creating an additional transitional picture which is then inserts into fast moving sequences. Motionflow looks at the flight of a football, to work out how it gets from the footballer's foot to the goal, and inserts the relevant transitional images. Neat-O!
In the images in the Sony Bravia Drome, Kaká passes the ball - to himself.
It was obvious when Kaká entered the tent, the air was sucked away from the window-area I was standing at as everyone in there mobbed the poor guy on the other end of the tent. Had we been on a boat, we would have capsized in ten seconds flat.
I asked Kaká: "You're representing two worldwide brands, Adidas and Sony, do you ever feel there's any conflict?" and he smiled charmingly while shaking his head: -"No, not at all. I feel that I can bring something to each brand, and they in turn bring something to me, it's a good fit. I do things for Gilette and Armani as well. There's no conflict they complement each other."
And here I was hoping to hear more about that boo-boo when Kakà couldn't pose with his Milan teammates in a photo collection that was published by Dolce & Gabbana in 2007 - his contract with Armani nixed that. But we all know the gag that comes complementary with big brands paychecks.
Ben Scott, the set designer who built what the Guinness World Records agrees is the worlds largest zoetrope shyly shared some details of the large construction: "It can go at a speed of more than 50 km/h, but the optimum speed is 44 km/h when it shows precisely 25 frames per second. It took ten men three days to assemble the whole thing, there are ten thousand nuts and bolts which all have to be tightened, re-tightened and then checked again, which is much better than our first time when it took us six weeks. And finally, there are fifty thousand LED lights."
At the "backstage" event area of the commercial shoot we watched from inside a somewhat warmer tent as the extras stood out in the cold surrounding the Zoetrope. We were surrounded by the new Sony Bravia TV's showing off fast moving action films and famous football goals and there was even a corner where one could watch a swing behind a wall where a girl was swinging for real, the effect watching her from the TV on the other side - inter spaced with seeing her pop out from behind the wall at each swing - was like watching her through a window rather than a TV set.
This was a clever way of showing off the product that I don't think the event co-ordinators got enough credit for, it really was a smart demo. But then there was so much else going on - not to mention the food, oh yum bring me more especially those little cups of chocolate dream stuff please - like Dan Magness smashing Guinness World Records without even breaking a sweat and happily posing for photographs with practically everyone there.
Dan Magness the footie fiend doesn't do anything half arsed. When he breaks a record, he smashes it. It was only in November that Jeremy Lynch, famous from "Britain's Got Talent" set the new record for "Most football rolls across the forehead - 56" for rival brand Nintendo. Dan gave it a go and now he's the proud record holder after rolling that ball 180 times across his face. I might be getting my numbers confused because while he was at it, he also set the record for longest controlling of ball with his back (3 minutes, ten point five seconds) and football shoulder juggling which was somewhere in the vicinity of 260. After that he showed off with a little on the spot ball juggling - which looked a bit like football break dancing - using every bit of his body as he went along but stopped after ten minutes as "I sensed the crowd was getting a bit bored, I could've gone for hours".
Vernie Young - whose directing skills you've seen if you've been paying attention to the Kylie Minogue videos - reveals a little more about the way the commercial will pan out: "I want to create an air of anticipation amongst the watching TV audience. This is acheived by initially revealing some of the smaller details of the structure, then showing it in it's entirety to demonstrate the sheer size and scale of the BRAVIA-drome and finally giving the viewer a glimpse of its surroundings. The suspense builds until the perfectly smooth images of Kakà showcasing his amazing skills are unveiled. This advert is a unique event, demonstrated by the look of sheer awe and amazement on the faces of the watching public."
I did sneak out to smoke while they were actually filming and accidently moved into shot - had I remembered to carry the "look of sheer awe" on my face I might have even made it into the ad but I'm likely already on the cutting room floor with my permanent cigarette in mouth tired and c-c-cold look.
If you think there's a strong resemblance to the photo of Vincent Nguyen at Slashgear it's because they were both taken with his neato gunlike camera - I took the one of him, and he took the one of me. I guess you can tell which one of us is the art director. Thanks for letting me mess with some of your funky tech-gear and cameras Vincent - I really appreciate you alleviating my hardware envy.