Since 1.4 featured your music video for Kamp!’s track Melt, you have created a major film installation for cosmetic brand Inglot in New York’s Times Square. How did the project come about and what was the brief?
The context was simple. Inglot was changing their vinyl billboard into a HD LED huge spectacular. They approached me directly with the brief which was simple: “We want something amazing”. The CEO, Mr. Wojtek Inglot, words were memorable: “It’d better be good.” Perfect brief you might say, but this only made it harder.
What were the main challenges of the production and how did you resolve them?
The one major challenge which determined everything was the site: Times Square, Manhattan, New York City.
I used to live in NYC a couple of years back. This place is so intense. The city drags you in. In one second it can bring you down, in another overwhelm you, and next make you feel admired. If you ask why, the answer is always the same – “This is New York City”.
Times Square is NYC’s essence. At night it feels almost spiritual, with the lights and all the activity going on, it feels as though you are at the center of the world.
This is one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections in the world, hosting over 39 million visitors annually. Approximately a third of a million people pass through Times Square daily and watch notable signage spectaculars screening thousands of visual impressions for about six seconds. Everything is flashing and screaming – buy, look, like, see, buy now, new, save, call now, take, watch, get, subscribe, etc. I decided to go in the opposite direction.
The challenge was how to stand out and grab people’s attention in a different, non-screaming way.
I pitched the idea of a three-minute long shot of girls being lavished with colorful pigments in slow motion to emphasize the uniqueness of the brand through colors. Inglot liked it from the beginning.
Our biggest challenge was the spectacular screen: 11m high x 20m long (36’x61’), weighing 12 tons (25,000 lbs), with an area of 200 m2 (2,000 square feet) hanging 20m (60ft) above the street with 1,764,000 LED diods… and two display sides.
Through all the development stages we needed to keep the parameters of the screen in mind and shift our intuition and thinking constantly.
The main challenge from the technical point of view was to find the right kind of pigment, so it would look spectacular and energetic and not too dusty on the screen. We discovered during the tests (see Related Content) that it’s all about finding the right amount of humidity in our pigment stocks.
Cinematographer Jakub Giza shot on Phantom Gold high-speed camera with the frame-rate around 750fps. We weren’t even using the camera’s full speed – but that was the right speed for our effect.
On the set we had extremely limited numbers of doubles. Throwing pigment required special treatment to remove and it took one hour with each actress to setup from the beginning. The pigment had to be thrown at a certain angle and time.
The actress reaction was essential to our film. We worked on it using confetti instead of pigments.
Inglot Times Square Experience required a comprehensive approach to the edit. Picture this. You’re sitting in an edit room and have beautiful shots with no soundtrack, not a single sound, so consequently there’s no rhythm. How to edit this? Although the film was produced and post-produced in Warsaw, Poland we gave it another context.
We created a special workflow to recreate the Times Square environment using original ambience of the place, which was different at night and day. That small move made a big step for us.
Together with the editor Kuba Tomaszewicz, we left the organic edit and used techniques based on permanent intervals and rampings.
Looking at the monitors we had to keep in mind that the frame would be literally 1000 times bigger hanging in the heart of the largest commercial signage in the world.
The last challenge was testing on the screen in NY. Because of the timing of the entire project we couldn’t see it before the tests and that was a huge moment of truth. I felt like four year old kid again. Amazing.
Luckily, the three-day test went well. We had to set the levels of brightness for the day and separately for night time, so the content would catch the attention of the viewer in a best way.
You can see the Inglot Times Square Experience in situ until June 2015 but above is an internet version of the imagery.
Director: Tomek Goldbaum-Wlazinski
Dop: Jakub Giza
Editor: Jakub Tomaszewicz
Online: Jaroslav Szopinski
Grading: Ajith Krishnamoorthy