ONLY – The Liberation

This project came to life through a carefully planned production, a highly devoted and united team and some wonderful clients who dared to give us the freedom to create The Liberation the way it turned out.

When Uncle Grey first approached us we instantly felt that their ideas where straight up our alley – the brief featured a great portion of interactive storytelling and refined execution. What could be more exiting we figured. The original idea developed by Jimmy Blom (Executive Creative Director at Uncle Grey) and his team was quite to the point – a film about three girls entering a small quite town causing mayhem, messing with the locals, then getting kicked out of there. Plain and simple storytelling with a great ambition to entertain and inspire and to get the brand message and attitude across.

Since the main component for the experience was going to be live action film, we needed to have a director aboard that could share our ambition for the project but also tell the story in the right way. That is why we went for the reputed and talented director Christoffer Von Reis. Based on what he had done before we knew that he and his team had the right spirit to make a shoot like this happen.

Together we shaped creative alliance to plan the next steps, where the relations between us, Uncle Grey and Camp David became more and more integrated, just like it should be endeavoring a challenge like this.

The first steps focused a lot around the tonality, and mood for the film. We saw references like thisthis and this and they triggered the creative process immediately in the right direction. Even if the original idea had a lot of American road-movie attributes we where afraid that would become to cliché if we just went in that direction. The client also communicated that it should feel less Americana and have a more universal feel to it. Overall we worked with a lot with references and moods to get the right visual tonality.

Early in the process we also spent considerable time to establish the right amount of user interaction. We wanted the users to feel absorbed by the story and not being forced to click at certain points to break the illusion too much. And at the same time not loose them. So to get the right balance it took a lot of testing and playing to make it function they way we wanted from a user experience perspective.

Together with Jimmy and Christoffer we wrote and refined the script. We tweaked it so that it could be played out from a local girls point of view. To follow her perspective; from the way she reacted to when the rebellious girls from out of town entered her reality – suggesting moral dilemmas – to when she decides to join them in the end, is an illustration of liberation and not getting too stuck with conformism in your life. Something we believed that the target audience hopefully would find somewhat relatable and inspiring.

We kept the design minimal to get as much focus on the movie as possible – and that’s a challenge in itself. The design went through a few different stages during the project. Before we had shot the movie it started out quite complex and detailed, and when we had shot the movie we stripped away most of it to lift the movie which is and should be the hero. It’s easy to over-do things in the beginning when not all the elements are in place, it’s important to constantly review the work to see how it has changed during the course of time and see what doesn’t work anymore. In this case the client was very flexible and understood what was best for the project even though a design had already been signed off earlier on.

The movie can be paused in every frame. When in pause mode, a high-res image fades in and we place hotspots on pre-defined tracking-points over the clothes. We used some automated scripts in After Effects to simplify the process. First we needed to know the exact frame where the user pauses, which can be tricky when dealing with playing encoded flash movies since you can’t rely on the player heads position to get the exact frame number. So we found this method instead: A binary code is added in an extended strip at the bottom of each video. Then we can read that number and mask and hide the strip. To store all hotspot positions we used another script. So now we could just animate the points, one layer per piece of clothes with a layer-name set to a corresponding id. This could be done either by hand or with motion-tracking. Run the script and all data is exported to XML. Simple, yet effective.

Pinterest-functionality was also added, so when you pause a movie, each garment in that scene is dynamically loaded into hidden containers and available to the Pinterest image-scraper when clicking the “pin-it”-bookmarklet. The high-res frame is also available as a regular, but dynamically changed pinterest-button up in the right corner. Every frame and product the user explores ends up in the grid in the end.

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The sound production in The Liberation turned out to be pretty complex just to make it work the way we wanted it to. We wanted a seamless experience throughout so even if you paused the movie it shouldn’t feel like it all just came to a stop. Here’s a write up from Dinahmoe, our sound partner, about the adaptive sound and how we did it.