The New Yorker Festival
Every year, The New Yorker puts together a collection of live interviews and presentations. The lineups are released weeks in advance and then begins the job of promoting it. The Design Director at the time contacted me to work on a video that would be used on the website and at the festival, which would showcase who was speaking. The concept for this was based on some photos that he contracted, which were used for various ads in the magazine.
These photos were constructed and taken by James McNabb for the New Yorker Festival print ads. It featured a replica of Manhattan made from wooden buildings. Yes, he made all of them by hand, via a band saw.
So knowing that this video should play off the printed images, I started experimenting with cityscapes, and how the speakers would interact with the buildings. At first, I keyed into the shadows that buildings make, and how the titles could interplay with the shadows. But I soon realized that it would be too boring and repetitive.
Then I started thinking of each person's name acting as a neighborhood in this cityscape, and having the camera do a flythough the buildings, showing the name for a few seconds, then moving on to the net.
The next step was to get the timing of the video down. I had a list of names, and knew that I could make two videos. I would split the names up between the two videos and keep the beginning and the end the same. I started doing a few versions with camera paths. Because this was in a city setting, I wanted to have a moments where the camera was flying through the building. A few first attempts had too much camera movement, and was really disorienting.
At the same time, I started designing the building. I had a way of filling a set space with copies of these buildings and because the buildings would be moving, they didn't need to be two detailed. I used the print campaign photos as reference and came up with 15 buildings of various heights and wood colors.
I had the city size figured out, plus all the buildings, and knew where I needed the type to live. Now I needed to figure out the camera path, and how to plan a fly-over without making the viewer sick.