Underating Simplicity

It seems the nature of things to drift toward complexity.  The MacBook I’m typing on is anecdotal proof.  Turns out I’m quite fond of complexity.

There’s just something about a bazillion individual pieces all churning harmoniously along together that gives me a giant nerd-smile.

And that’s my problem…at least more often than I’d like it to be.  Because I find beauty in complexity, I forget about simplicity.  Too many times I’ve been challenged with “It doesn’t have to be so complex”, only to respond with “Yea…but it’s cooler this way”.  Somebody point me to the nearest Complicators Anonymous meeting…

A few weeks ago we found ourselves creatively exhausted after the prep and execution of Easter.  We put a ton of time and energy into “The Grand Undoing”, and just didn’t have the juice to dive into another ball-busting design process.  On top of that, the next series promo had to air the week of Easter, so we were actually doing these two projects consecutively.  Our creative team of 5 usually works 4-6 weeks out, meaning we’ve got 2-4 weeks to concept, design, and produce content.  However, given the Easter rush, we had just 1 week to go from concept to completion.  Somebody came up with the idea of going low budget (original, I know).  The interesting thing is that all our projects are low (or no) budget.  We just try not to let them look that way.  So on this round we admittedly kept the look consistent with the budget…low.  Here’s our completed product for the April 2012 series called “Surviving Family”:

This ended up one of our more popular videos especially among, you guessed it, families.  A special thanks to my teammates Abel, Casey, Will, and Jana for their fantastic creative contributions.  I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to create with!

I’m now on this hunt to find ways to make what appears complex, simple; and what is simple appear complex.  Any other complicators want to start a support group with me?

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Visual Communication

About a year ago we started dabbling in the world of story videos.  Two to Three minute vignettes designed to support a theme through the partial communication of a story.  Our objective has been to create intrigue and tension without necessarily resolving the underlying issue.

This first video was designed for our Enticed series which ran in May of 2011.  We wanted to create something dark and aggressive, but with an element of attractiveness.  As our first step into the world of story videos, we all felt this was a huge success.  Check it out.

As often happens after initial success, we got a little over zealous on our next attempt.  The Armor Up series ran just one month later in June of 2011.  During the planning phase we had HUGE ambitions for this project.  In our minds we created an epic 60 second adventure worthy of James Cameron.  For many reasons, we fell short of that by a long shot.  There was however something of epic proportion: the time our cinematographer/video editor, Abel McBride, spent creating the entire CG environment.  The only practical elements are the actor, the suit, and the sword.  Everything else was created digitally.  If my memory is correct, Abel put in around 80 hours in the editing suite.  Not a stellar ROI, but we did learn what a quagmire is…

So after killing ourselves on Armor Up without significant success, we stepped back and really began to evaluate our process.  We became more focused on story and less focused on “cool”.  So almost a year after our initial success, we began planning our most recent project which ran this past Sunday for Easter 2012, The Grand Undoing: When Everything Sad Comes Untrue.  This was a significantly more complex project which required more people, more coordination, more direction, and a solid grasp on the story.  All told, this turned out to be another success – and the story reigned supreme.

As I write this, we’re in the middle of shooting a stop-motion project for our series Surviving Family which begins this Sunday.  Let’s hope we didn’t bite of more than we can chew…again.