For those of you that have made it past the headline, congratulations: I now grant you access to the future!
Working with Microsoft and director Mason Nicoll (former creative director at Digital Kitchen and Prologue), Seattle-based studio Oh, Hello brought this vision of a highly-gadgetized future to life with some slick roto, loads of tracking and, of course, silky smooth futurific animation.
I gotta be honest: I’m a closet futurist. I’ve read Kurzweil’s books, and I daydream regularly about some of the stuff depicted in this project. Which means that in addition to enjoying this from the perspective of motion design, it interests me in the larger context of technology and culture.
If this video is any indicator, the future will fuse together interactive and motion design in ways that this project only begins to imagine. Regardless of whether Microsoft is behind it, those who understand the rich nuances of time-based experienced will be well-positioned to succeed.
Nathan Barr of Oh, Hello was kind enough to answer some of the more pragmatic questions I had about the project:
Did Microsoft have the UI concepts fully boarded out? If so, did they have any idea how the interfaces would move and interact with the users?
The UI design was already fully realized by the Office Labs team over at Microsoft. However, it was always evolving and we received new artwork almost every week—which we then had to extrapolate from their AI files and re-animate.
MS did have some very basic AE animations before the shoot that they had built for their UI as well—that way they could direct the talent as to what the general action would be. (Move your finger here, click here once, etc.) However, since this stuff was evolving so quickly, there was a lot of creative interpretation as well when they shot it.
Did Mason come to you guys after he’d already shot everything? Is so, was it challenging not having any input during the shooting?
Mason had been talking to us during pre-production and did get some input from us on how to shoot a couple of the shots—namely the newspaper and some of the whiteboard stuff. Thai and Dan were also able to be there on set to help with VFX direction the day they shot the classroom scene.
That being said, there was still a lot of trickery and cheating that was required to make their actions match up with what was supposed to happening in the “software / UI story.”
This looks like a pretty massive project—5 minutes! How long did you guys work on it?
Our part in the project from start to finish took just over 2 months. They cut it down in LA and sent us the “locked” edit to work with. The process was pretty much to work scene-by-scene—starting with tracking and roto, then moving on to UI animation and compositing.
The client gave feedback on each scene piece-meal, but we didn’t actually go back to revise anything until the end.
Director: Mason Nicoll
EP / Producer: Ellen Stafford
Post production: Oh, Hello
Roto / Tracking: Charlie Bartlett, Dan Brown, Thai Tran, David Holm
UI Animation: Dan Brown, Thai Tran, David Holm
Compositing: Dan Brown Thai Tran, David Holm
Roto: Motor and AE
Tracking: Mocha and AE
Animation and compositing: AE