Visualizing for Google
How The Empire Post communicates with Silicon Valley from Brisbane, Australia
Google is a big company with big needs, but its projects come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes the world’s biggest internet company is looking for a new logo design set to ignite conversation across the globe; sometimes it’s looking for something much more personal, like a visual design directed solely to its employees.
That was the case with The Empire Post’s most recent project. Working with creative agency Jack Morton in San Francisco, The Empire Post needed to create a visual theme for the ‘Google For Work’ Global Summit.
The four-day gathering at Las Vegas, Nevada hosted over 2,500 Googlers and their partners in business. It was up to Empire Post and Jack Morton – along with creative input from a variety of renowned artists such as Black Violin, Jason Derulo and Girl Talk – to put together a motion content pack that would captivate the audience and sell Google’s sleek, stylish and internet-savvy look.
That’s a big task in and of itself. But when working on a screen spanning 90x20ft, and in a native resolution of 7040×1408? It’s something else entirely.
Thankfully, with Frankie once again on its side, Empire Post was able to tackle the huge project at huge resolution without a hitch.
The Empire Post’s brief was seemingly simple, but full of creative challenges: create a cool visual motif that would play across the massive 5:1 screen during the four days of the summit.
And the final content was eye-catching indeed: a mix of abstract, floaty visuals and punchy stings, the combination of 2D and 3D assets gave the event a real sense of impact. Working with a screen of that sheer size, however, meant that the visuals required an increased level of scrutiny.
“The data file sizes were off the chart!” exclaims Digby Hogan, editor and partner at The Empire Post. “We were creating a lot of 3D polygons that were intended to represent the theme of ‘coming together’. They would morph, split, attach to other elements, all giving a very fluid, smooth feeling to the visuals. At the size we were working with, that was a lot of data to manage!”
Along with the development of this core visual element, The Empire Post also worked on hold screens, title screens, and a variety of other visuals intended to maintain a sense of movement.
“The content we were creating was very specific, and there were lots of things that were very close to one another in terms of similarities,” says Hogan. “That, along with the sheer size of the content, meant that approving and reviewing the items in a generic way just wouldn’t work. That’s where Frankie came in.”
Although The Empire Post calls Australia its home, both Jack Morton and Google are based in San Francisco. The only way to keep all companies on point was via the use of cloud-based remote review and approval solution Frankie.
“We were separated by the world’s biggest ocean,so I immediately suggested that both Jack Morton and Google jump on Frankie, neither of whom had used the software before,” says Hogan.
“I showed them how it worked; how the video plays in real-time across all locations; and how you can easily make annotations or notes on a scene – they picked it up so easily! Before long, everyone was scrubbing through and taking their turn, stopping and drawing and making comments. They loved it!”
Although the visual content created by The Empire Post was of an incredibly high resolution and in a unique aspect ratio, the studio and its clients were nevertheless able to view the videos in Frankie as a 2000×400 proxy file.
“It’s amazing, but there were never any issues with display or aspect ratios in Frankie – that’s really impressive,” says Hogan. “You don’t want your client to log on and see the content incorrectly letter boxed, and that never happened with Frankie. We were always working with the project as it would look on screen.”
This ability to see the project in its final form extended to its vibrant colour palette. Given the 2,500 pairs of eyes that would ultimately be on the visuals, getting the color just right was incredibly important to The Empire Post team. Again, Frankie didn’t fail them there.
“We were dealing with a lot of gradients, from blues through to greens,” explains Hogan. “It was very important that those colors were accurate. Brilliantly, we found that the transcode Frankie was doing on its end was extremely close to the original color palette. Knowing we were working with truly representational colors meant we could make better-informed creative choices.”
Thanks to Frankie’s fidelity, The Empire Post, Jack Morton and Google could work closely via the real-time interface, utilizing the annotation and note tools to communicate what was and what wasn’t working with the visual content. The PDFs generated at the end of each session, replete with all notes and time codes, proved particularly useful.
“That would stand as our guide to the next stage of approval,” says Hogan. “Those notes aren’t just a nice-to-have – they’re vital to the creative process. Everything from the start of the session to the end is there with time codes and the names of who said what. It removes any possibility of confusion. When you’re working with a company like Google, that’s important.”
In the zone
Although communicating across borders is one thing, communicating across time zones is quite another.
With a 16-hour time difference separating The Empire Post, Jack Morton and their client, the team needed to find a way to communicate effectively. Again, Frankie proved itself to be a flexible solution.
“I could leave a Frankie session open overnight in Australia, and Jack Morton and Google on the US West Coast could have a look at what we’d done and leave notes,” explains Hogan. “We’d wake up in Australia and review everything, which we could then communicate to our producers. We could then work on whatever was needed throughout the day; when the other teams woke up again they would have a fresh batch of reviews to look at. Thanks to Frankie it became a true 24-hour production – something that wouldn’t have been possible in the past.”
Finding the time
The Empire Post has now used Frankie on a host of projects, and it continues to present a much more desirable solution that those previously adopted by the studio.
“In the past, reviews of video material meant sending your file, referencing time codes, taking screenshots, compiling PDFs, consolidating feedback, going through the back-and-forth of emails, confirming what someone meant about a certain frame…it was exhausting, not to mention that a lot of the time people were busy, so things could get overlooked,” remembers Hogan.
“With Frankie, things are totally different,” he continues. “On the Google project, Jack Morton agreed that it would have been difficult to tackle the project any other way. At the resolution we were working in, with so many elements being built in 3D, quick revisions just weren’t possible. We couldn’t afford to waste any time. With Frankie, we could ensure that didn’t happen. Everyone knew exactly what was needed and when, which gave us more time to get really creative.”
Frankie will continue to stand as a key component in The Empire Post’s arsenal, enabling the studio to work for a roster of clients locally, in Silicon Valley, and beyond.
“Frankie allows us to work in total confidence, with anyone, anywhere around the world,” says Hogan. “In this case, neither Jack Morton or Google had experienced Frankie, and they got just as involved in each session as we were. They were extremely proud of the end results and thought Frankie was invaluable.
“When you have a company like Google on board, you know you’re doing something right.”
Empire Post: http://www.theempirepost.com/
Google for Work: https://www.google.com/work/