Less than a decade ago, a billboard was essentially a printed image blown up to a gargantuan size. The picture didn’t move, respond to what was happening in the environment around it, nor interact with passersby. How times have changed, and with it, the types of skills designers need to execute their ideas. Even printed pieces are not static anymore, what with the option of Augmented Reality movement and sound.
Stopp of Stockholm produced this subway billboard for a Swedish cosmetic line called Apolosophy by Apotek Hjärtat. Connecting ultra-sonic sensors to the billboard screen, Stopp made what appeared to be a “still photograph” of a young model come alive. Calibrated to react to arriving trains but not to passing passengers, the sensors made it look like the breeze from the passing trains were tousling the model’s hair. After the train went by, the model returned to her “still” repose. What a delightfully simple idea and brilliant use of technology.
This skit from “Burnistoun,” the comedy sketch show broadcast by BBC Scotland, reminds me of all the devices that, at first, seem like marvelous inventions, but still need work. An example is a recent exchange with that annoying automated iPhone twit, Siri. She keeps calling me “Del-fiend-E,” even though I’ve corrected her multiple times. Last week I asked Siri for the cross street of Gump’s, San Francisco’s venerable luxury home décor and jewelry store. Everybody in the Bay Area knows the 150-year-old Gump’s — except Siri. She said, “There are three dumps in San Francisco, which one do you want?” I enunciated more slowly, spelling out G-u-m-p-’s. She ignored me and started telling me the addresses of the local dumps. I finally asked a passerby for directions.
The new Philips Sonicare commercial presents the history of mankind as told through a manual toothbrush. The spot poses the question: With so much advanced technology available, why do most people still clean their teeth using the same “stick with bristles” method devised more than 5,000 year ago? Then to make sure viewers understand just how long that is, ad agency Ogilvy & Mather and director Jonathan Notaro of Brand New School show an actor in appropriate attire and backdrop brushing his teeth for 5,000 years, transitioning from caveman to modern-day city dweller. Shot on location in Budapest, including at a Victorian train station and on studio lots, the film is elaborately propped, with toothbrush man zooming effortlessly along, shedding costumes and environments as he goes.This was made possible by tying him to a dolly and dragging it through the various period-specific sets, while the wardrobe was changed using green-screen animation on mannequins.