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Making Commercials: Snail Mail Embedded With LCDs

 

Spacejunk recently produced a 0:60 commercial that was uploaded to ultra-thin LCDs embedded in printed direct mail brochures.

By Michael Fickes

Spacejunk chose a Lamborghini and the ARRI ALEXA to make Nationwideís video direct mail marketing piece.
Spacejunk chose a Lamborghini and the ARRI ALEXA to make Nationwide’s video direct mail marketing piece.

A new advertising concept called video direct mail (V-DM) is emerging as a potential new market for digital video. Direct mail marketing is a big advertising category, worth about $30 billion per year. In coming years, some of that money may fund digital video production.

In a V-DM appeal, the audience receives an ultra-thin LCD and speaker embedded in printed material. The screen plays the main message.

Columbus, Ohio-based Spacejunk (www.spacejunkmedia.com), a full-service creative, production, postproduction and VFX house, recently produced a digital video for a V-DM project commissioned by Columbus-based Nationwide Insurance. The 0:60 spot combined real and animated footage to introduce a fund management software application to 3,000 Nationwide fund managers who will use the software.

“The assignment was to generate excitement about using the software,” Mike Beaumont, Spacejunk’s co-creative director, said.
Nationwide contracted with Seattle-based UVIAUS (pronounced you-via-us, www.uviaus.com), a specialty print and interactive products and services provider, to produce the direct mailer with the embedded LCD screen.

Seize Control

Spacejunk’s creative team developed the message. “This is a market of affluent, older individuals accustomed to being in control,” Beaumont said.
Accordingly, the message became: here’s a software tool designed for speed that puts users in control. “Software isn’t interesting to look at,” continued Beaumont. “So we looked for metaphors about control. Did fund managers see themselves as quarterbacks or symphony conductors? Do they like fast cars?”

  Spacejunk chose a Lamborghini and the ARRI ALEXA to make Nationwideís video direct mail marketing piece.

spacejunk 

  Spacejunk chose a Lamborghini and the ARRI ALEXA to make Nationwide’s video direct mail marketing piece.

Spacejunk’s Co-Creative Director Jeff Boddy developed style frames for a couple of ideas to show the client. Controlling a fast car won. The spot would show close ups of a man sliding behind the wheel of a powerful car. Inside the car, a series of close-ups would show the man’s gloved hands gripping the steering wheel and operating the controls.

The controls appear on the dashboard, but as images from the software – icons, buttons, charts, graphs and related images. The climax would show the powerful car at night, speeding into the desert away from a city on the horizon, the driver in complete control.

Pre-production

The production team decided to shoot the interior scenes and modify the controls with CGI. Then they would animate the desert scene with the car. Casting the car proved challenging. “We needed a cross between a car and a spaceship,” recalled Executive Producer Andy Schneider.
The choice: a Lamborghini convertible.

Director of Photography Wayne Sells selected the ARRI ALEXA for the shoot. He brought in a crane to fly the camera into the car from above for close ups of the interior and the driver’s hands. Sells found a 9mm lens that could shoot extra wide and capture large sections of the dashboard from inches away.

The shoot was straightforward. Sells lighted the convertible from above. The driver slid into the car and pretended to turn dials. “Later we replaced the gauges behind the steering wheel and anything else that read car with control images from the software,” Beaumont said.

The interior shoot filled three-quarters of the spot. Next came the climactic dash across the desert.

Photoshop created the desert landscape with a city on the horizon. Senior Animator Chris Schoenman animated the car in Maya, while Marco Cardenas created visual effects to dramatize the car – streaks of light streaming off the car as it speeds by the camera. After Effects did the compositing. Final Cut Pro edited. Then UVIAUS uploaded the spot into an LCD in a print brochure.

Video-direct mail. Coming soon to your mailbox. Don’t miss it.


May/June 2012 Table of Contents