Since the Super Bowl puts most sports fans in the mood for beer, we thought we’d bring back an old beer ad favorite — The Carlton Big Ad, created by George Patterson and Partners (Young & Rubicam) of Melbourne in 2005. An epic parody of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” battle sequence, the commercial, also filmed in New Zealand, shows men in maroon and yellow choir robes rushing and leaping across a sweeping rugged terrain, while resolutely singing new lyrics set to the medieval tune “O Fortuna” from Carl Orff’s cantata “Carmina Burana.” Although the commercial looks like it was made with a cast of thousands, it actually only used 350 people, with the crowd replication software, Massive, filling in the rest of the extras in post-production. “The Big Ad” went on to win numerous awards, and undoubtedly paid for its production costs and then some through the millions of times it has been viewed on the Internet.
Over the past 30 years, we have seen many professions in the graphic arts replaced by technology. Sign painting is one. Sign painting was a trade that existed in every community to adorn storefronts, banners, billboards, street signs, and buildings. The really good signs were one-of-a-kind works of art, produced by a steady hand, discerning eye, and aesthetic sensibility. Hand-painted signs revealed the pride and skill of the craftsmen. Their execution took human judgment and an active collaboration of eye, mind and hand. On a subliminal level, viewers could feel the effort of the maker. Now signs are mostly computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering. Undoubtedly, this is faster, cheaper and more uniform in quality, but like so much of our urban landscape, it lacks the warmth, soul and touch of human hands. “Sign Painters” is a documentary film (and also a book) by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon that celebrates the vanishing art of sign painting. The film is currently being shown in select locations in the U.S. and other parts of the globe. If it comes to your area, do see it.