FEATURE: Profiles and craft reports of the year

campaignlive.co.uk, Tuesday, 31 December 2002 12:00AM

We present highlights from this year's star-studded feature coverage

JEFF GOODBY

Goodby Silverstein, the agency Jeff Goodby co-founded in 1983, has become one of the most admired and successful of recent years. Its work often achieves cult status, such as the iconic Louie the Lizard for Budweiser. "You can create a piece of popular culture and hear people talking about it on the street," he says.

Goodby's output is also famously funny: "There's a lot of humanity in humour. Commercials happen fast - it's hard to bring up a lot of heavier emotions. But you can have a funny thing happen in a very short time and people recognise it as true and honest." One of the biggest challenges for his agency in recent years has been ensuring its cutting-edge boutique culture is maintained as staff numbers have swelled to 350 and Omnicom has become its parent. Goodby argues that the basic philosophy of producing intelligent work that the public likes to see hasn't changed. This appears to be borne out in some of its most recent work, including that for Saturn.

JONATHAN GLAZER

Glazer directed 'Odyssey', the Levi's commercial in which a young man and woman hurtle through solid walls, run up the trunks of two trees and sprint upwards into the cosmos.

He describes the spot as "a 60-second love story" about "making the impossible look real".

He says: "The effects had to be done expertly so you couldn't see the joins but enjoy the journey."

The challenge was creating the impression of bodies hurtling through the walls without losing momentum. "The main issue was creating dramatic action from the actors against a blue screen. We needed to get a visual reaction even though there were no walls," explains Markus Manninem, CG supervisor of Framestore CFC's special effects team.

"We used cork guns that fired out particles to hit the actors as they hurdled through the imaginary walls. This gave the impression of walls exploding and a realistic reaction from the actors."

Even Glazer, a famous perfectionist, admits: "It came out pretty well. It was a hard one but I like the simplicity of it."

ROBERT McKEE

Comedy screenwriting guru Robert McKee's 'Story Seminar' has attracted a global audience of more than 35,000 writers, directors and producers. His book, 'Story', is a bible for film students and budding writers/directors. His methods have been used in spots for Marmite, Lynx, John West Salmon and QTV.

"Comedy is the angry art," he says. "It's an attack on social behaviour, religion, politics and class. If you harangue the world about how bad it is, you'll be ignored, but if you get people to laugh at it, maybe things will change."

For McKee, no subject matter is off-limits: "People ask: 'Will comedy still be funny once all the taboos are broken?' But there will always be subject matter to tap into. Nothing is sacred."

The most vital aspect of comedy is the set-up, he says: "There has to be incongruity between the set-up and the punch. Laughter explodes when two ideas that we never associated with each other are clashed together in the mind."

RIDLEY SCOTT

Scott is a cigar-toting multi-millionaire, auteur of five box office smashes and the man behind Apple's legendary '1984', which some still dub the best ad ever. Yet he is not the arrogant hotshot you might imagine.

Although he has worked in Los Angeles for more than two decades, the 63-year old retains his Teesside accent, and with it, the attitude of no-frills Northerner.

A self-confessed workaholic, Scott spends his evenings watching films. Although he lists Orson Welles among his influences, he now looks for new talent and techniques in smaller films and advertising.

He found his latest cameraman, Slavomir Idziak, by watching less mainstream fare, such as 'The Double Life of Veronique'.

"The secret of being a good director is a good cameraman," he asserts - and also the craft of filmmaking, which helped Scott change the face of British TV advertising back in the 60s. Until then, directors used high-key lighting and thrust the product into the viewers' faces. Scott introduced a low-key, diffused and more realistic approach, which at first terrified agencies, but then became the benchmark for other directors.

MOBY/STYLEWAR

Moby wrote the original brief for his latest animated music video, shot by StyleWar. StyleWar then took the ideas and expanded them to create the first animated alien, based on Moby' s sketches.

The live action footage was shot over three days in New York on 16mm for a 'realistic' feel. It was all deliberately handheld and a special periscopic lens was used to get right down to ground level.

Locations included the Meat Packing District, Washington Square Park and The Pink Pony Cafe, the former coffee-drinking haunt of Allen Ginsberg.

The footage and music were cut together and StyleWar was left with a video of shots of empty sidewalks. The aliens were dropped into their positions and tracked according to the minute movements of each shot. Each frame is different from the next because the technique is all filmed on handheld camera.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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