Mothership for Sprint “Firsts”

Mothership is back. Directors Dael Oates and David Rosenbaum —in collaboration with Goodby Silverstein & Partners— have joined forces to create the studios latest spot, Firsts. The ad displays an elaborately choreographed domino effect that, one by one, topples the world’s technological and cultural “firsts.” While visual effects were contributed by Mothership’s sister facility, Digital Domain, Oates and Rosenbaum, who do not regularly direct as a duo, came together to handle this complex and ambitious project, which includes all live-action and the digital integration of hundreds of all-CG elements.

UPDATE: The previously featured video has now been swapped out with an extended :60 version.

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rube goldberg lives on!


Would have been a lot more impressive if it was live action… Otherwise, it’s kinda dumb, very very very well done, but dumb…

Simon Robson

I must be dumb, because i liked it a lot; nice hackneyed idea with a twist, well executed…Bravo!


Great to see the Aussie DaelO making it big. Shame the VFX work stayed over with Digital Domain. They’re great, but they’re not Australian!


mothership is all hype. this was a very very lame concept. let’s just do dominoes with inventions and put a totally irrelevant and visually unconnected ending.

took some suspension of disbelief when bread toppled a fridge. can’t believe they greenlit that. hang your head in shame.


I think where the concept falls down a little is that they start off in what seems to be rough chronological order but then they break that here and there. Like why does the Model T run into a bunch of ’60s or ’70s era compact TVs rather than the giant beasts of the ’30s? And then after sliced bread and the refrigerator, we jump back 30 years to the first airplane, then immediately forward to a rocket? I guess they’re kind of grouped thematically (home appliances -> aircraft -> consumer electronics? I just feels kind of random though and makes the piece a little conceptually weaker than it could be.

Also after seeing so many of these spots that ripoff the Fischli and Weiss / Rube Goldberg idea, doing one in CGI that’s just a simple linear domino train is a bit of a letdown too. After seeing people do much more compex chain reactions for real, I feel like you had better come up with a pretty elaborate and fantastic setup to justify doing it in CG.


Also, the desert environment and lack of people gives it a “junk heap of history” feel. Does it really make sense to take a product that you’re trying to say is the newest, greatest thing since sliced bread, and tie it visually to a bunch of dusty, obsolete technology? I mean betamax came out before VHS. Is this the Beta of phones? Maybe so.


Good point. Everything looked sorta dusty in its texturing as well. When I saw the phone I thought “wha?…”

A quick scan of Digital Domain’s work reveals a particular soft spot for the salt flats. Perhaps its their digital equivalent of the prelit green screen environment?
Load Salt Flats>Drop In Shiny Object>Render>Profit.

(full disclosure, I admit to having used salt flats from time to time in my own work)


think the dustyness is kind of due to the quicktime compression actually.. the 30 second version that was on here for a while looked a lot more crisp.
either way, spot is odd.. starts out nicely (though it doesnt make sense), but also lost me at the bread… or a rocket crashing down… bad memories associated with something like this…


Ironic that a spot called “Firsts” is such a cliched idea. Cogs this is is not.


poor goldberg. consider the horse dead, but everyone still keeps beating it. cool graphics, bland idea.


some very cool animation in that, but there is other work being made right now that is so exciting it’s hard to get too riled up about this – i’ve been digging this visual effects video index, hundreds of inspiring clips –


I think the spot is cool, some very tight 3d work going on. To be honest its better than 90 percent of the stuff people rave about in terms of polish. There are certainly conceptual underpinnings in the spot. The idea of progress is represented here in the form of object/dominos, which sounds like an obvious idea, but i don’t think it has been done represented this way very often. Cogs for HONDA is the closest thing i can think of, only that spot is really using the domino effect to convey a sense of manufacturing precision. I think since its digital domain, people naturally tend to have high expectations, but i think it really just illustrate people can do high quality work with out the backing of a big vfx shop.

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