Apple is kicking some major ass with its updated iPod shuffle, where demand for the tiny entry-level player is outstripping its supply. At the same time that news hits, Apple releases a brilliant new commercial for the pint-sized player, emphasizing its wearability.
Take a look at that spot on the Apple site here (I would suggest viewing the "HD" version), and you'll probably agree that it's a tremendous achievement in effects, art, and general atmosphere. More media criticism, after the jump.
One of our buddies at the agency that created the spot, TBWA/Chiat/Day in Los Angeles, told us most of the kudos should go to Art Director Scott Trattner and Copy Writer Alicia Dotter, but we're thinking one of the more astonishing aspects of the spot is the work done by Flame artist Ryan Yoshimoto. He put together a group of visual effects that's so subtle and perfect that it's hard to tell there's even an effect involved. It's like a magic trick.
What kind of gadget was used to create these effects? If you're not familiar with Autodesk Flame, it's the highest of high-end software which formerly ran exclusively on UNIX platforms but is now commonly running on high-end PCs. Flame is visual effects compositing software that works like an extremely powerful Photoshop program for moving images. It can isolate precise colors, perfectly track moving objects in 3D space and imitate the position of a moving camera with uncanny accuracy.
However, ultimately Flame is only as good as whoever's driving it, and it's obviously in good hands with Flame artist Yoshimoto, who's turned art and science into magic with this 30-second piece of prestidigitation.
We're also digging colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld's color correction in this spot, using a subtle palette that departs from Apple's bright two-color iPod dancer motif, adopting a semi-washed-out, almost sepiatone look that gives a sharp and coherent look to the overall theme. Plus, it's all flawlessly synchronized with The Prototypes' "Who's Gonna Sing" soundtrack. Kudos are also richly deserved by the spot's directors, Mark Romanek and Brand New School.
Then there's the overall appeal of the iPod shuffle itself, which we've held in our hands and whose tiny form factor and honest practicality we've simply adored. Start with a great product, add this commercial spot that amounts to a perfect example of Apple's secret sauce that stirs up some serious mystique, and you have another winner from the Cupertino fruit company. Beautifully done.
(Editor's note: Charlie has worked in broadcasting for 31 years and has produced hundreds of high-end spots himself).