A couple months ago the good folks at Preacher asked us to help out with a social campaign for Tommy John’s “Go Anywhere” underwear. Sounds simple enough, but oh man, who knew walking would be so hard.
The big green screen was easy. Craigslist supplied the perfect treadmill we were able to hack and modify the speed control on (and paint green). Adam and Nick lit the scene to be flexible but also have light direction work with the many different scenarios the model would be dropped into. After that, the biggest obstacle was hitting the timing marks to go with stock footage. Adam directed from camera and thankfully our model was fantastic at hitting the timing changes and varying speeds, while always staying on his feet.
We were approached by The Atlantic to create a conceptual image for their October cover of the disaster that is the current White House situation. After a couple rounds of sketches, three ideas were selected to execute. We chose red for the background for all 3 as it is such a passionate color with so many emotional ties and appropriate nuances for the images we were creating. However, after looking at the sinking white house in layout, the concern arose that maybe it would be interpreted as it was sinking into a pool of blood. So, in honor of the current Cheeto in Chief, we shifted the color of that background to orange. We have now titled the cover image “The White House sinking into a spray tan swamp”.
And here are the full series of three images we made for the magazine.
Sometime (well, actually a lot of times) all the things we want going on in a picture just won’t happen at once. So it was with a smoothie image Rachael Ray Magazine asked us to make for an opener page about blenders. The inspiration was an illustration of a maelstrom with houses bobbing around in the water and being sucked into the vortex. They wanted the smoothie to look like the water, and the fruit to look like the houses being sucked down. Awesome idea, great illustration, but this image could not be taken in one capture. There were a few problems we had to solve:
1. The blenders we wanted to use for the outside of the image were not going to give the intense whirl effect we were looking for in the middle.
2. The blenders were also a little too small to be able to throw enough berries and bananas in and get the visual effect of fruit being sucked into the vortex.
3. The magazine wanted a whirl of yogurt to swirl in to the smoothie and be seen all the way down the vortex, but in reality it mixed together quickly.
4. And Lastly, focus was also going to be an issue. To get the whirl sharp from the top of the liquid down to the blades, Adam would need to stack multiple captures. Not so easy when the subject won’t stay still.
To solve for all these we broke down the problems and addressed them in separate images that Adam brought together beautifully. First, we shot the blender we wanted for the outside as a separate plate. Then, Nick hacked apart our Magic Bullet blender, which had the best whirl action of all the blades we tested, and created an oversize blender pitcher using a small bathroom trash can. The Bullet was then plunged into a rheostat so we could control the speed of motor. Next we set up PVC chutes on two corners of the Franken-trash-can-blender so we could pour a smooth and constant stream of yogurt in as it was running. And finally, Adam being the Photoshop wizard that he is, was able to bracket focus and bring together the different depths of the vortex smoothly and seamlessly.
It took quiet a few steps to get to the final image, but the results were well worth it.
And here are a few of the parts and pieces all brought together to make this picture work.
The September/October issue of Popular Science is out and we’re once again super honored to be able to say “Hey, we took that picture!”
The outside shape of the watch was actually a composite of two different watches, but the inside “space” part, was actually shot in camera. We spray painted an abstract cosmos on seamless, then spread the gears and planets out over a 10 foot span in front of the background to get the feeling of depth and space.
Beside the cover watch, we also made (and destroyed) a concrete alarm clock that was covered in vines to represent the passage of time. And also got to work with some fun trippy poster art and lava lamps for a feature opener about string theory. The cashier at Half Price books was amused when Robin headed to the register with arm loads of string theory quantum physics books. I think he knew they would never be opened.
Sometime a creative brief lands in our inbox and even if we are beyond booked and busy, the art ask is so good we just can’t say no. Thus was the circumstances when we opened up an email from Karen Williams at San Francisco Magazine early last May. From the moment we saw the art memo we knew we wanted to do the job. Thankfully they ask with plenty of time in advance so we were able to make it happen a little later in the month. Both Karen and the Art Director Clark Miller wanted something different from what they had done in the past. They wanted humor and a quirky nature, the color pallet was a fun place to play, and they were super receptive to our silly, funny, slightly slap stick concepts. With Ali Wong being on the cover, we landed on the idea of incorporating classic comedy prop items into 4 different section openers plus an overall art opener for the “Best of Scan Francisco” feature.
Thank you to our killer hand model Myan for playing in our silly world. We are over the moon about how these images turned out. I smiled all day just looking at the chicken pot pie. That is also the most baking I (Robin) have done in years.
And here are all the images in layout. Clark did an amazing job on the design! so happy to be a part of it all.
We are beyond excited to be able to share one of the studio’s biggest undertakings to date!
This spring we were approached by a stellar creative team from Droga5 who wanted to collaborate with us to develop 4 ultra stress tests to test the strength of the new Dixie Ultra plates. These tests would be used in both a print and social campaign, so motion was part of the package. The kicker, all these tests had to be done for real. No Photoshop trickery. And they wanted video of each.
The creatives had a list of 8 possible tests in mind, but to narrow down to 4, we were going to need to get to work with pre-testing. Could the plate hold 2 lbs of seafood one handed? How much jello could we drop from how high and have the plate still catch it? Where do we get a volcano with fire and lava that would actually get hot, like 500+ degrees hot?
After a week of testing, trying different jello recipes in different shapes and sizes, calculating how many hot plates we could plug into the studio with out causing an electrical disaster, and a visit from the fire marshal, we had our 4 tests narrowed down. The Rodeo Test, Jello Bowling Ball Test, Volcano Test, and Double Boiler Test were the winners. Next up, it was time to turn our studio into what looked like an industrial testing facility.
We can’t say enough about how amazing our small team is and how hard they worked. The sets were all created by Robin, Nick and Katie on a tight budget, sourcing materials from Habitat Restore and spending many hot and sweaty hours in the lot behind the studio custom finishing cement board, ceiling tiles, and bending conduit. Our phenomenal producer Elizabeth Spiva found the most perfect mechanical bull named Boss and a legit cowboy to ride him. And food stylist extraordinaire Tina Stamos killed it between the perfect cowboy steak, beautiful lobster boil, and the tallest chocolate lava cake imaginable while staying within in a 2 lb weight limit. Thank you to everyone who helped us make these crazy ideas come to life.
First off, here’s the cowboy, by far the funnest of all the tests. And yes, everyone got to ride the bull at the end.
Next we dropped a pound and a half jello bowling ball onto 6 jello bowling pins. Yes, we really made jello bowling pins. No, it was not easy to make them stand.
Our third test was a molten chocolate cake over a volcano. Adam Jorgenson and the team at Big Dog Pyro went above and beyond to incorporate all our crazy asks into this construction. We wanted glowing lava, and smoke, and fire, and heat, bubbles, and it all needed to sit neatly on a 4′ table top.
Last test was holding 2 lb of Lobster boil over a double boiler. Thank goodness we got 20 hot plates boiling with out crashing our electric panel!
And finally, here are lots of behind the scene pick from the process. Again, we want to thank everyone who helped make this crazy idea a reality and thank you to Droga5 for trusting us with such an amazing assignment.
Another fun cover story for Popular Science. The weird weather issue challenged us to make fire pillars, rainstorms and blizzards. Thanks Thomas Payne and the Popular Science art department for the amazing collaboration!
Loving how the Texas Monthly cover came out! A few gallons of milk and cold pressed juice + eggs and veggies = an epic mess in our studio. Thanks, design director, Emily Kimbro for the excellent assignment!