I love my job because every single day I get to work on amazing projects for amazing people doing amazing things. The most recent project was brought to us by Kim Alfano from Alfano Communications. AFC, American Federation for Children, is an organization that provides money and resources for education for kids of all ages. They were having their annual gala to celebrate those who work hard to help the kids, as well as the hard working kids themselves.
What they needed: a video installment that tells their story in under 5 minutes sprawled across 118 feet of a curved brick wall.
What did this mean? A trip to Gotham Hall, the site of the gala, for starters. Gotham Hall used to be one of those old-time gorgeous banks with stunning marble floors, gold plated teller stalls, and a domed stain glass ceiling 5 stories overhead. The stage couldn’t have been more grand, and the objective more daunting: creating a visual and audio experience that enhances the grandeur of the room and the accomplishments of those who filled it last Wednesday night.
Building a visual and audio experience is not equivalent to producing a video. Videos are linear, one image at a time, one major voice at a time. The story is built very singularly, and the viewer is always looking at one screen. With a canvas as big and wide as Gotham Hall’s curved wall, it’s not clear at any single moment where viewers will be looking. That means that all of the images need to be primary images, and any text on screen needs to attract the eye instead of assuming viewers will automatically read it. Add to that a projection surface made of bricks and mortar and giant grates that marked the wall every 20 feet. In this case, video was used as an element of design, not just a vehicle for content.
We started with 2 terabytes worth of images to choose from, a valuable trove under normal timeline pressures, but we only had two weeks to complete the project. Luckily, John Bennett, one of IMG’s Creative Directors and motion graphics guru, was on the job, as well as our savvy Project Manager Cat Bondoc, so we were off to a good start. Peering in every folder to first see what we had to work with, we organized and laid out the images with the graphics that built up into mini scenes that neatly interwove with the narration, bites, and soundscape (thanks to our incredible sound designer John Davidson), all coalescing into a cohesive story told across both time and space. Keeping something this massive in sharp focus for the audience to absorb was no easy task, but like a sculptor over clay, we continually worked, pass by pass, until the characters shone through, the story took shape, and a meaningful experience emerged.
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