June 24th, 2014

The Mill team in Chicago collaborated with Leo Burnett Executive Producer Juan Woodbury to transform the opening and closing galas at the 2014 Cannes Lions Festival with dynamic visual content. Opening with the theme ‘Fire and Earth’ and closing with ‘Ice and Snow’, Mill+ artists created rich visuals that were projected onto screens at the events, featuring an abstract narrative that worked to enhance the experience for attendees of the prestigious festival.

The world’s biggest celebration of creativity and innovation kicked off with a newly revamped 2014 Cannes Lions Opening and Closing Galas. Leo Burnett Executive Producer Juan Woodbury approached The Mill team in Chicago with a brief to create content for this year's updated gala events. Whether it's tactile, visual, auditory or all combined, Juan has an incredible track record as an event creator and knew early on that all moving images created would have to live symbiotically with the other visuals at the gala parties.

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The Team, Process and Methodology

Led by Mill+ Head of Design Bowe King, the team wanted to produce something more than just loop-able motion graphics or generative content. Instead they sought to create elements with a robust concept and visuals worthy of the event that honors a diverse array personalities and award winning work.

Bowe King and Mill+ Senior Designer Josh Van Praag came up with a story arch that played to a wide array of personas to live in the overall event themes that Juan created. Instead of the usual one-dimensional tropes of the archetypes, they sought to play to the divergence that can be found in truly interesting characters - a hero with a dark side or a whimsical villain - giving a richer ideology to cultivate the visuals.

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Bowe King explains: “We were experimenting with some interesting look development at the same moment that we came up with the idea of having a variation of personalities carrying the story. The initial designs were pseudo based on a mix of industrial fashion and high-end design while mixing different types of media. The more we introduced the characters’ personalities into a loose narrative, the more we veered away from traditional directions and wanted ideas that felt rawer. We knew that mixing media and staying away from a super polished feel would give us the look that lined up with the ideology.”

The design direction combined photography, double exposure collage elements, stock imagery, type design, hand drawn assets and CG FX to achieve the final look.

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The Shoot

The team shot all 22 individual characters with unique hair and make up, ranging from a burlesque dancer to Thai kick boxers. Each had at least three set-ups, some with 4 or 5, giving them over 70 lighting set-ups in total to get in only two 10 hour shoot days. Some background plates and elemental assets were also sourced from stock houses such as Getty Images and our own in house Reusable Assets Data Base, helping to collect 45+ minutes of assets in a timely manner.

Fashion stylist Agga B. Raya was perfectly in sync with the concept of incorporating attractive fashion cues and mixing them with natural elements, with the thieves sporting Givenchy to give them an ironic ultra-curated look. Hair and make up stylist Anna Brazeau gave each character a look of their own, averaging eleven very unique styles in one day (more than one look per hour.)

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All of the archetype plates were shot with a Red Epic camera, most of which was shot at 120 fps, some even at 240fps, to give the actions a dreamy feel and allow the team to ramp up or slow down time in post. Often times you want to leave room to create the look in post, but since the team knew the end goal so well, Mill+ DP Adam Carboni ran with stylizing the look in camera. The footage was edited with Dan Zabinski from The Whitehouse and animated & composited at The Mill.

See all the graphics created for the Opening and Closing Galas in the videos below.