A new multimedia campaign for Converse combines the talents of Pharrell Williams of N.E.R.D., Julian Casablancas, and current flavour of the month Santogold, who have produced an exclusive track for the trainer company.
The genre-busting track, My Drive Thru, has a music video featuring almost 10,000 paper cut-outs – the brainchild of New York agency Anomaly, with animation and production by Los Angeles and New York-based animation studio Psyop. As well as the full promo, there are two cut-down versions that work as ads: a 60-second and a 30-second version; the promo is designed to resonate with the existing print campaign.
Psyop directors Marie Hyon and Marco Spier explain: "Converse and Anomaly initially came to us with the idea of 'connectivity' and an existing print campaign, where different artists, as paper cutouts, are connected by their feet, their Chucks [Converse trainers] are a symbolic link."
They say the brief was simple: "Be awesome," says Spier. "And stick to the concept of 'connectivity' and stay in line with the print campaign. Keeping it simple, black and white and in the paper world."
However, taking the concept from static print images to motion required some creative thinking: "We had to bring this concept to life. Give it movement, keep it motivated throughout and come up with unique and clever ways to play on 'connectivity'. We created a world made out of paper that tricks your perception of perspectives, inversing realities, and create hero actions that trigger an invention of space that links to another action," explains Hyon.
Spier adds: "We wanted to inject a lot of attitude into our video and have it be music and personality driven and create a dynamic sense of energy through the camera moves. If you noticed, there isn't a single cut in the video. It's all 'connected', all 2 minutes and 30 seconds of it. Rather than cutting actions together, the camera is thrown around to find the next moment in time. This gave it a spontaneous and raw quality which we liked.
"We applied that attitude to our process as well, trying not to over think or overcomplicate things, having fun during the process," he continues. "It was also important to see the artists' personalities. We have three very different artists perform in very different ways. We needed to create scenarios that support their individual styles."
The paper cut-out technique was developed through some surprisingly low-tech experimentation. "We began our design process by exploring the paper look by shooting digital stills of our team in motion. We printed them out on our crappy black and white printer, and then cut them out like paper dolls," says Hyon. "Next, we set up the dolls on our desktop lit by our desk lamps, and shot it with a macro lens to capture a miniature set quality. We then created a backdrop to the paper dolls by exploring lots of ways to create folded paper environments that is tactile to give us some sense of perspective.
"We wanted to keep a simple and effortless handmade feeling where the paper world had no rules so that we were able to play with how negative space can turn positive, top perspective that can become the bottom, the end could be the beginning," she continues. "A shadow can also turn into a hole. Certain actions can trigger the environment to change or appear."