• 1.28.15   Rizon Parein Helps Crown the Ice Kings

    Every other year the world comes together to test skills against one another in the Olympics. Athletic trials of all kinds are set up on the world stage for the global community to leave differences behind and enjoy one another in the arena of sport. When those tests are over we return to our local communities and continue the contests on our own soil. The living joy of these games does not end when we go our own ways, and they must continue to be celebrated in the effort of common goals. In Russia, a country whose recent moves have found it isolated in many arenas, their people still join together in ways that need to be celebrated. Nike has assembled a casual winter soccer competition in Moscow that looks to crown the "Ice Kings," those who win the contest. Rizon Parein, whose work Nike has contracted in the past during the World Cup (another international contest) and for their Lunar program, was on hand to make materials celebrating and advertising for the games. Rizon is known for a variety of aesthetics, but for this project he and Nike decided on using his tried and true neon lights application. It makes sense. The tournament is geared towards a younger crowd and that’s exactly where Rizon’s neon signage is angled. “The young players have a new opportunity to prove themselves in the harsh Russian winter and prove that real [soccer] never stops,” Nike describes the tournament. And they’re not kidding. Moscow is one of the largest cities that sees some of the harshest winters in the world. Playing a soccer tournament outdoors during this time is no joke. Nike continues to be the global equalizer of all things sport, finding a bright spot in geopolitics while keeping the idea fun and lively. It requires intensity to show up to competition as challenging as this, something that was not lost on Rizon. His design shows crowed eagles, the kings of the sky, in mid bird call affirming dominance. The qualifying games are already well underway, with the semi finals coming on February 1, and the kings be crowned on February 5. Stay tuned!
  • 1.29.15   Tempering Strength and Grace with Nike

    In the world of athletic wear, the hot market segment right now is women’s wear. For their latest collection of women’s athletic wear, Nike went all out. They unveiled the collection at a fashion week type event, open to international journalists, featuring no fewer than 27 female athletes as models. This was no simple list of ladies who lunge, it was a roster filled with Olympians and groundbreakers. Joan Benoit won the Gold Medal the first time the women’s marathon was introduced to the Olympics. Sofia Boutella has blurred the line between dancer and actor, with an impressive resume in both fields. Alana Nichols competes as a female basketball player and skier, all seated in her wheelchair. Photographer Joe Pugliese was invited by Nike to capture each of these women to show off who they are. Dressed up in Nike’s apparel like models, with each of their incredible histories, there’s a lot behind each of these women that could be punched up for the images. But that’s not the way Joe works. “I like when I can try to relay what’s happening in someone’s life by showing a certain quiet moment instead of just posing them for a photo,” says Joe about his shooting style. The intensity of training, the roar of the crowds, the analysis of stats, all these things disappear when it’s just the athlete and the camera. “I learn a lot about people by observing them and that’s the most satisfying part of my job,” explains Joe. Then Joe shows us what he sees. Confidence. Grace. Strength. Joy. Intensity. In these contexts Joe reminds us that each of these athletes are simply real women. Everything else is extra. To see more of Joe Pugliese's shoot with Nike, check out their social media channels.
  • 1.28.15   The Power of Collective Individuality with Karen Schijman

    It’s a sincere challenge with any group of artists to make sure that every voice is heard. Each member of a creative collective is crucial to maintain artistic integrity, and to guarantee that the group reaches the potential built within it. For a musical group this is ever more important, so that every instrument, chord, and note are struck to create the final harmony. Harmonies come from different notes playing fully, so each member must be unique and play full out. When Stylist Karen Schijman was faced with styling The Mowgli’s for their latest album Through the Dark she had to balance the distinct styles of seven different artists, while creating a cohesive look. “Working with a band of seven people is not an easy task but they all have such great personalities and talent, they can make the clothes their own,” Karen explains. It’s important to her that they adopt these styles all their own, making the fits look like a natural extension of their own styles. As Karen explains, it’s all about “maintaining a balance of making everyone happy and letting them all still have their individual personalities shine through.” When certain aesthetics require a limited color palate, Karen is able to work with shape, texture, and accessories; it’s all about creating cohesion out of individuality. And for Karen, that’s par for the course. The Mowgli’s are currently on tour down the East Coast, and will continue their tour through the US (with a few stops in Canada) through May 31.
  • 1.23.15   Microsoft's Renegades by Platon

    We know that Platon is best fulfilled photographing rebels. He photographs revolutionaries, provocateurs. So for the uninitiated, his shoot of Satya Nadella for the cover of Wired Magazine might have seemed out of place. Microsoft’s newest CEO, from the look of him, does not seem like a textbook renegade, but one glance around his office, whose inhabitants include an opened iPad box and a cricket bat, and it’s easy to see what is different about this man. The insular culture of Microsoft that gained them so much in the late 80s and 90s has become a liability in a tech culture that is built on open source collaboration and the future of community computing. Nadella, in his first year as CEO, has built upon the cultural restructuring started by Steve Ballmer, making for a new internal structure primed to change the way Microsoft operates in tech. As Jessi Hempel would have readers understand in her story “Restart” for Wired about Satya Nadella and his new Microsoft, the best way to view the new company does business is by looking through their HoloLens project. Microsoft’s latest device is best described as “augmented-reality goggles” that marry the physical and virtual worlds, using the lenses as clear screens that the goggles can project imagery onto, allowing digital representations to blend into the perception of reality. When Jessi tested them out she played games by collecting digital coins off physical landmarks, and wired a light switch while an engineer on video chat drew holographic instructions and diagrams. It all happened less than an inch from her face, within the HoloLens. The device follows the natural progression of GoogleGlass to deeper integration and wider possibilities. What’s most remarkable about HoloLens isn’t so much the technology, but that it has a place to live at Microsoft. The tech titan has made itself synonymous with isolation. Having intentionally programed their hardware and software to not play nice with other brands, Miscrosoft held a firm grip in the initial tech boom, but that unfair play has caught up with them. Nadella is changing all that. The HoloLens runs on Windows 10 and will be set up to accept any number of developer applications. To the regular consumer in 2015, this would be a no-brainer. But in Microsoft’s inward facing cultural past, it’s a major shift, being shepherded by Nadella. This shift primes Microsoft to step into an entirely new sphere of technology, one where Microsoft becomes a part of an active community, instead of an isolated entity.  Platon was also on hand to shoot Chief Experience Officer Julie Larson-Green, who is overseeing consumer devices, and Project HoloLens Chief Inventor Alex Kipman whose initial pitch of the project lead to Kinect, but is finally starting to explore its potential.
  • 1.27.15   Amanda Marsalis' M.O.

    The trick to taking intimate portraits is trust. When Amanda Marsalis shot Jaime King for People Magazine, they had already created a rapport. Amanda, whose directorial debut Echo Park was the crown of the LA Film Fest, met Jaime at a party long before they came together for this project.  “She was very sweet and wonderful to me at this large party and I was looking forward to seeing her again,” Amanda says about their meeting. “Jaime likes intelligent, successful women. She’s really supportive of other women.” The entertainment is, in many ways, a boys’ club. It doesn’t take much more than looking at any given year’s Academy Award Nominee list to see that women are underrepresented, so it could only help Jaime and Amanda to come together to create beautiful work. Right off the bat, on the first shot, Amanda turned the camera around to show Jaime how the shots looked. And Jaime was instantly won over. “It was a really awesome to start the day,” says Amanda. “She immediately started to trust me because she liked the photograph, and then for the rest of the day was just smooth sailing. Everyone knew I was there to make her look good.” That “everyone” included Jaime’s child, her husband, team, and even Amanda’s dog, Queso – who is generally pretty trusting as it is. For Amanda, building trust has never been difficult. That’s because she doesn’t have any ulterior motives. Unlike some other artists who want to leave their mark with wild interpretations and crazy ideas, Amanda just wants to make beautiful work. “I’m trying to make people look their best selves, I don’t want them to look different than who they are,” Amanda explains. “I don’t have an agenda except to take what they’re willing to give me.” That collaborative process means that both Amanda and her subject arrive at the final portrait together. Amanda needs them as much as they need her. The images are created in the space between them, they are a reflection of the trust that the photographer and model build. That’s always been where Amanda does her work, in that relationship. “That’s sort of my M.O.,” she says.
  • 1.26.15   Found Studio Draws from 20 Years of PlayStation Gaming

    20 years ago Sony debuted the PlayStation as a new way to immerse consumers in the fresh world of gaming. In those early days, it was still a young industry that few could ever imagine what would become of it. Gaming is now a $10.5b industry, and like all entertainment sectors, it is built on the dreams and imaginations of the consumers. For many, gaming is about collective play, but the depth of that genre has only recently been plumbed, while most of gaming history has been solo play. These immersive stories have created a form of entertainment that transcends passive entertainment, requiring interaction from the player, creating storylines that gamers can take personally. In these past 20 years since the PlayStation debuted, 20 years of stories have been created, and Sony wanted to highlight this for their 20th Anniversary. To celebrate, the tech titan asked their Twitter following to tweet stories of gaming from the last 20 years using the hashtag #20YearsOfPlay. Moments that were memorable for loyal players, like remembered stepping-stones over the last two decades. Then Studio Output and Found brought 20 of those memories to life in animation. Moments like smashing buttons, playing whole games in one sitting, or feeling “like a god damn modern day treasure hunter, with style” all come together in an exploration and expression of these stories. Found’s animation worked to tell these stories in the clearest way. “By taking a more minimalistic design approach, we ensured that the animated compositions didn’t detract from the authenticity of feeling, helping PlayStation give back to their fans and emphasizing that they are ‘For the Players,’” explains Dan Moore, Creative Director at Studio Output who asked Found to do the animations for the Tweets. These stories are about how the players have interacted with these games for a generation, the lily didn’t have to be gilded. By keeping it simple, the emotional heart stays in tact. For non-gamers, these stories might seem crazy or overinflated, like the player who played so much that their eyes were bleeding. But for those who find connection in these ways to escape and relate they’re stories pulled from their own experiences. Check out the video on Facebook (that has already reached 415,000 views!).
  • 1.22.15   Ars Thanea Scores with an Air Ball for Nike

    Air balls are embarrassing things. The phrase connotes those moments when a shot is taken in basketball and it is so far off that it doesn’t touch the rim, net, or backboard. It is a total miss. But the phrase “air ball” is tantalizing. The ball, the focus of the game, the object from which the entire game revolves, is energetically weighty, holding the hopes and anxieties of every player and fan watching. But an “air ball” is light, mobile, and agile. It is inherently a part of its surroundings. It’s a rich idea.  Nike asked Ars Thanea to interpret the idea of an “Air Ball” in a way that would express their latest line of basketball apparel. What came out of their creative sessions was a ball whose airness wasn’t merely attributed to the air that fills it, but rather something whose abilities and ambitions allowed it to carve through the air on its own whim. The result is a self-reliant machine that takes the guise of a regular basketball. But it is anything but regular. In their process to discover what this semi-autonomous could look like, Ars Thanea went through a process of digital sketching, examining different options from color to jet propulsion placement, to the throw of heat and light from its engines. The compositing process in a project like this is always lengthy and challenging, but we’ve included images from six different points of the process so you can see how the image develops over time. Selling the reality of CGI comes in the infinite details. Computers and vector are good at impossible smoothness and cleanliness, but they won’t feel real. To really sell the image, Ars Thanea had to lock down elements that are so wildly variable that they have to be real. The rich environment of a basketball court including court lines and nets is reflected in the glossy surface, while tiny inconsistencies on internal patterns look handmade. Even the intense “heat” off the engine warps the surrounding elements to inject a special layer of reality on the smallest elements.  “Air ball” is supposed to describe a shot that is taken and totally missed, but it can also mean something else entirely. As Ars Thanea explains, it can also mean, “giving the impression of the ability to fly and reaching the unreached.” Score.
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