Repost: Technology and Artistry Mashup for Planar and ADi


Planar, maker of many kinds of cool display technologies, approached ADi with a unique proposition. Conceive and design an animation for a video display. The display is pretty much one of a kind – ten feet tall, made of 4 display panels with almost no bezel. They are mounted on a tree-like frame that sprouts up out of a base that cleverly disguises the media player and inner workings of the “Art Wall”. We are going to follow the progress of this project and show you step by step how it comes together.

Today, we speak with Seth Cameron Short, ADi Creative Lead about his approach to designing for this unique platform as well as Jennifer Davis, VP of Marketing at Planar:

What intrigued you about this project?
Seth: This project was both exciting and unnerving at the same time. Typically, when clients approach ADi that want us to do something with their brands and their products – fundamentally, it’s about selling something. This project was different because it was about inspiring the imagination (of architects and interior designers). Our limits were not creative ones. We were limited by the shape of the art wall, that’s about it.

Why was it important to Planar to bring in an outside creative partner for this project?
Jennifer:Planar is a company full of creative and innovative people, but we are not a creative agency. We knew that by collaborating with a firm of artists who understood the tools of video design and communication would lead to a great collaboration. We have seen this play out many times in our projects and installations, as creative forces join together to create something unique and relevant.

How did you come up with ideas and concepts?
Seth: Our first thought was to create something we’d want to see. Something fresh and new. We did a lot of group brainstorming. Our team is very used to this process and we have a certain level of trust that makes it work well. It’s great to get many different perspectives. It’s ok to be crazy or “out there” in the brainstorm. No one is going to say no. It’s the off-the-wall stuff that eventually gets us to a solution.

What was your process for pulling all the ideas together?
Seth: First I gathered my notes and everyone’s note and reviewed them. We had also pulled some reference images and a few folks had done doodles and sketches. I kept going back to my first inclination which was asking myself – “Would I like to see that?” I also had to look at what was possible in terms of time and content. We had a few ideas that had a sort of narrative to them and they were great, but it wasn’t realistic to think that someone walking through a hotel lobby is going to stop and watch a 12 minute story unfold.

How important were the visuals in terms of showing the ideas?
My first step in organizing the concepts was to write up written descriptions, and then start to think about how to show them visually. In the final presentation, most of the words were all stripped away and we let the visuals do the talking. We shared written descriptions with the Planar team, but mostly for their reference – it was very conversational.

How did the Planar team react to the concepts?
Seth: Well, we brought 6 concepts total. We presented them in a sequence and I confess at first I was nervous because they weren’t reacting much. Suddenly, once we were through about the third one and they were able to compare ideas side by side, they really started to spark. They then started adding ideas of their own or combining ideas. Seeing the client dive in and get involved is my main goal.
Jennifer: We loved the range of concepts and the clear thought and preparation that had gone into each. Although the graphics associated with each were rough and meant to be illustrative of the concept, we could see clearly how sophisticated and clever the resulting designs could be. In our design review, we were able to narrow down to a concept (or combine a few into a single concept) to take to the next phase.

What concept were you most excited about?
Seth: I’m really partial to simulating physical things – particles, liquids. We had one concept that used a liquid simulations and took advantage of the physical “frame” of the art wall to make things happen dynamically. Kind of a really fancy lava lamp.
Jennifer: My personal favorite was the “behind the scenes” mechanism concept. I liked it because it was unexpected and brought the shape of the displays into a depth dimension by creating a world behind the displays. It also allowed us to combine some of the things that we liked about the others (ie, fluid dynamics, etc) into one unifying concept.

How did you react when Planar picked their favorite concept?
Seth: Well, none of the ideas we presented were ideas I didn’t like. I was really happy to see them react to the “Mechanism” concept. They even found the little robot character sort of hidden in the scene. It’s great when you realize the client has really started to take it into their minds. That’s when I know it’s really clicking. It was fun to see them connect with it.

What are the next steps in the process?
Seth: The next thing we’ll be doing are storyboards. Those will include more written descriptions of the action and flow of the animation, as well as more visuals. I’ll be working very closely with our Art Director Vince Nimmoor on those.

Do you see ways to carry this concept forward into the future for different configurations?
Jennifer: Absolutely. The wonderful thing about video displays is that they can show anything. The wonderful thing about art is that the ideas never cease. I imagine that this first implementation will just inspire new rounds of creativity. We also know that our customers, which range from architects to AV installers in industries as diverse as utility control rooms to retail merchandising, will find inspiration as well.

For the final audience for this project, architects and interior designers, what do you want them to think or feel when they see the final art wall?
Seth: It’s more than a customizable painting. I want to “break the 4th wall”, so to speak. I want them to see how this could work, even if they don’t use that particular style or feel for their own project. This whole project is a sort of deconstruction – a whimsical deconstruction.

(From, By Nancy Hoffman, September 22, 2011).