Seneca College Students Win Big

Seneca College animation students had a taste of Hollywood, or at least of Hollywood North, at the Canadian Screen Awards last month when Subconscious Password, the film they helped create, won Best Animated Short Film.

The 11-minute 3D short by Oscar-winning director Chris Landreth was produced by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) with the help of Seneca’s Animation Arts Centre and Copperheart Entertainment. Landreth used the pixilation technique to animate live-action clips, which chronicle the story of a man who forgets his friend’s name, and has to enter deep into his own mind in order to remember it. While in his subconscious, the character becomes involved in an adventure modeled off the famous celebrity-studded game show Password.

Subconscious Password by Chris Landreth

Subconscious Password by Chris Landreth

Fifteen students from Seneca’s Summer Animation Institute assisted on the film as animators, set designers and lighting technicians from early pre-production stages through to post-production. “Students were expecting they’d come in and be instructed with what to do, but they were actively invited to contribute their ideas into how a scene or moment might play out, or how something might be animated,” says Mark Jones, Seneca’s chair of Creative Arts and Animation and an executive producer of Subconscious Password. “[The director] Chris is really good at including them. He’s a gifted animator and filmmaker, but also a great teacher. We’ve worked with him on three films now.”

For his part, Landreth reciprocates. “Seneca is one of the top programs for animation,” says the director. “Students there are very hungry, very professional and very smart.”

Jones says that after Seneca first collaborated with Landreth on the short film Ryan, which went on to win an Oscar in 2005, the college decided it wanted to build on the lessons learned from that experience and apply them into its programming. “We couldn’t do it within the confines of our three-year advanced diploma in animation, because you need that time to learn the basics,” Jones says. “[Creating] the Summer Animation Institute was the most flexible option. We could attract students who graduated from the full-time program to stick around and continue their training.”

The hands-on approach of the summer program, which partners with studios that are producing short films, has long-term value for participating students. “Partnering with big animation studios means [the work] has guaranteed distribution. Other [school] projects don’t get serious exposure in the same way. It means a student who worked on a film can go to a job interview and say, ‘I worked on this,’” says Jones. “It puts the student at a competitive advantage.”

Nothing beats practical experience — several of the students were hired on to help finish the film after they graduated from the summer program. “It really solidified their training in terms of feeling prepared for the professional world,” Jones says. “Several students said that it didn’t feel like school, it felt like work. And it’s supposed to feel like work, but embedded within an educational program where there is faculty support to provide guidance.”

Watch the trailer for Subconscious Password below. To download the full movie, click here.

Judging Underway for the 2014 Applied Arts Design Awards

Design Awards entrants, cross your fingers and toes! Judging is underway today for the 2014 Applied Arts Design Awards at S1 Studios in Toronto. Our dedicated judges (see the full list here) have already evaluated countless digital entries in the last couple of weeks, and now here they are assessing rows upon rows of physical pieces.

Design Awards judging


Design Awards judging

“It was an inspirational week of judging [the digital entries],” says jurist Pamela Lee, creative director of Multiple in Vancouver. And from watching them judge a few categories already this morning, we’re sure they’re going to find the hard copy entries to be just as creatively stimulating.

Winners and full credits will be published in the highly anticipated annual July/August Design Awards issue of Applied Arts. They will also appear in our online Awards Archive, which attracts more than 300,000 visitors annually, and in our Winners’ Exhibit at our annual AACE Awards party this October. Watch The Wire for the announcement of winners, coming later this month.

VIA Gets Down to Business

If only there were more hours in a day…

There can be, according to VIA Rail Canada‘s new advertising campaign promoting its redesigned business class. The train provider tasked Cossette with the ads, which appear in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa on billboards and in newspapers and transit stations.

Cossette worked with Montreal photographers Leda & St. Jacques to execute the “buy yourself some time” concept, which targets business travellers looking for a stable alternative to air travel. The agency tapped five business leaders to appear in the photographs including venture capitalist and onetime Dragon’s Den panelist Bruce Croxon, as well as venture capitalist and “dragon” on Quebec’s Dans l’oeil du dragon François Lambert.

“Business travellers are people who want to use their time productively, and who value the quality time they get to spend on board,” says Antoine Bécotte, chief creative officer at Cossette in a release.

VIA Rail

VIA Rail

VIA Rail

VIA Rail

Unboxing Harry


By Will Novosedlik

A foray into men’s grooming reveals important lessons on brand experience

Shaving. Some men hate to do it. Others love it.

Me, I love to do it. Maybe I have OCD. Or maybe I just don’t like the fact that with more than a day’s growth on my face, I look a lot older. And I’m already old.

Whatever the reason, I shave every morning. It’s part of my ritual, part of greeting the day, a way of “suiting up” for the game of daily life. And because I have OCD — and I’m vain — I like a nice, close shave.

Problem is, I have always been very frustrated by what’s on offer. Electric razors? Nah. Tried ‘em, but they never delivered the same result as a fresh blade. So I have been a Gillette customer for 30 years. Gillette Fusion and Fusion Proglide have been my go-to blades. Great products. Love the results. But I hate the price and I hate the process of buying these things. So the experience is far from perfect.

I’ve written more than one column to vent my frustration with this purchase experience. Gillette decided long ago to steal an idea from HP: charge a low price for the host device, but make refills really expensive. Once you have the device, you have to use the matching refills. So you’re trapped. For Gillette, it means a cheap razor, and blades that are almost worth their weight in gold. Great business model. Bad customer experience.

Read more of Will Novosedlik’s “Branded” column here.

For Dove, Beauty is a State of Mind

Coming off the heels of its much-ballyhooed “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign, Dove released yesterday another attempt at boosting women’s self-esteem with its “Dove: Patches” video.

The company teamed up with Ogilvy Brazil to execute the concept. In the video, psychologist Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke, who specializes in women’s body image issues, invites seven women to wear the RB-X, a recently developed “beauty patch” that will get them feeling more confident and beautiful.

Before sending them off on a two-week trial with the patch, Dr. Kearney-Cooke had the participants discuss their lack of self-esteem, then tasked each woman with creating a video diary. The daily entries revealed how each woman felt her confidence and happiness increase as a result of wearing the patch.

If you’ve seen “Real Beauty Sketches,” it will come as no surprise that at the end of the two-week period, Dr. Kearney-Cooke informed the women that the patch was a placebo.

While the people at Dove says that the women were told they were participating in the study as part of a documentary and didn’t know the personal care brand was in any way affiliated, it seems hard to believe the women truly thought they were receiving a patch that was capable of changing the way they feel about themselves. Or is it just an effective example of the placebo effect? What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.

Winter Style with Leda & St. Jacques

Winter may be technically over (though it doesn’t feel like it in some parts of Canada), but that doesn’t make this campaign any less cool. Montreal photography duo Leda & St. Jacques shot this ad for Young & Rubicam client Jaguar Canada to promote its convertibles in the winter season.

The model underwent a lengthy styling session to arrange her hair into a windswept “toque,” which was further refined in post-production. If her hairdo-meets-hat isn’t enough to convince you to drive with the top down in cool temperatures, the ad’s tagline reads “It’s never too early.”

Leda & St. Jacques for Jaguar

For a behind-the-scenes look at the shoot, watch the video below:

Ecorce Designs Visuals for Segal Centre

Montreal’s Segal Centre for Performing Arts tasked multi-service design, advertising and branding agency Écorce with the look of the visuals for its 2014-2015 season, which includes on-stage renderings of beloved Canadian tome The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz as well as The Graduate — both of which highlight Segal’s “Dream Big” theme.

The vibrant, illustrated posters use several of the same design elements to add a sense of cohesiveness. Each of the posters for the seven shows refers to one of the main characters from the headlining plays.

Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson.

The Segal Centre’s 47th season runs from August 31, 2014 to August 27, 2015.

Segal Centre

Segal Centre

Segal Centre

Segal Centre

Digifest 2014: Canada’s Digital Festival

A month from now, techies and digital creatives will converge in Toronto for Digifest, Canada’s international conference for digital creativity and innovation.

This year’s theme is Digital Urbanism and the Future of Cities, which highlights the fact that more than half of the world’s population resides in urban areas. Workshops and seminars will focus on generating solutions to create more sustainable cities that are better able to meet the needs of their residents.

The festival is facilitated by George Brown College and features topics such as wearable technology, clean technology and gaming. Several food trucks will also be on site for the duration.

Saturday, May 10 is Intel Family Day at the festival, spotlighting exhibits by artists and designers, as well as workshops on robotics, wearables and 3D printing. Visitors will be able to test wearable technology including Google Glass and devices by Canadian start-ups Kiwi Wearable Technologies and Thalmic Labs. The “It’s a Start” entrepreneur competition pits 21 start-ups pitching their product ideas.

Digifest runs May 8 to 10 at Corus Quay in Toronto. For tickets, click here. Most events on Intel Family Day are free.


Getting Nostalgic with Air France

Let’s finish off the week with some gorgeous photographs courtesy of Air France, which revealed its colourful new ad campaign to Canada and 11 other countries on April 2.

European agency BETC devised the campaign, which includes retro-style photographs of destinations the airline flies and hightlights services the airline offers.

Sofia & Mauro, an Argentinian photography duo known for their fashion photography, captured the feel of vintage travel posters in their stills for the campaign, which is called “France is in the Air.” The new tagline comes 15 years after the airline adopted “Making the sky the best place on earth.”

"France is in the Air" by BETC

"France is in the Air" by BETC

"France is in the Air" by BETC

"France is in the Air" by BETC

"France is in the Air" by BETC

"France is in the Air" by BETC

"France is in the Air" by BETC


A New Look for the GDC

The Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) got a bit of spring cleaning done this week when the certification body unveiled its fresh, modern brand identity.

It’s been almost 50 years since the original identity was designed by Jacques Emile Charette. Says GDC CEO Adrian Jean in a statement: “As GDC prepares to celebrate our sixtieth year, a rebrand began due to an evolution in our strategy. [The results] speak to our rich history, broad community, the changing nature of our profession and a clear direction for the future — to continue advocating for professional practice and building a vibrant network of graphic and communication designers across Canada.”

Vancouver-based designers Dennis Boyle and John Ngan, both CGD™  certified graphic designers, won the project. Together with the GDC, they crafted a brand identity that would be recognizable and relevant to people outside of the organization as well as in.

The pair used the Braggadocio font as a jumping-off point, refining it into the organization’s new mark, which includes an arrow in the “c” to convey a notion of propelling forward and to the future. Watch the video below to find out what Boyle, Ngan, and Matt Warburton, co-chair of the GDC Identity Development Sub-Committee, had to say about evolving the GDC identity.

GDC New Identity

New GDC Identity