Animated awards presentations

If you attended the Newspaper Marketing Bureau's Extra Awards presentation on Nov. 15 at Toronto's Pantages Theatre, or the Canadian Direct Marketing Association's RSVP Awards show later that week at the Royal York Hotel, you witnessed the leading edge in presentation...

If you attended the Newspaper Marketing Bureau’s Extra Awards presentation on Nov. 15 at Toronto’s Pantages Theatre, or the Canadian Direct Marketing Association’s RSVP Awards show later that week at the Royal York Hotel, you witnessed the leading edge in presentation support.

Both these awards shows were produced by The Mariposa Group, whose multimedia subsidiary, Cinema Inc., designed and executed the presentation support.

A few years ago, all you would have seen was a static slide show, or maybe a multi-projector a/v module.

Today’s combination of moving images and text, combined with music and sound effects, is properly called ‘computer-animated presentation support,’ a specific aspect of multimedia.

Although the Extra Awards and The RSVP Awards had dramatically different creative formats, our task for both was the same: to develop visual and audio concepts for the presentation support sequences that interpreted and reinforced each award show’s pre-established theme.

The theme of the nmb’s 1993 Extra Awards – presented for excellence in newspaper advertising creative – was ‘Combustible Materials,’ referring to the power of pen, paper and imaginative ideas to create an explosion in the marketplace.

The cdma’s 1993 rsvp theme, ‘Face the Future,’ also included a triangular-shaped logo of a face, built from the letters ‘r’, ‘s,’ ‘v’ and ‘p.’

This forward-looking theme suggested that emerging technologies will change the face of direct marketing.

For the Extras, we developed and produced a photo-realistic image of an antique, leather-bound book with a fountain pen.

A constantly flickering row of flames surrounded the main ‘frame’ in which the winning ads and their credits appeared.

As the show opened, the core elements appeared one by one on the screen, supporting the emcee’s explanation of the Extras theme.

A quick-cut video of ads, scenes and public testimonials introduced each major section.

As the show progressed, the antique page ‘caught fire and burned,’ revealing the new award category beneath.

The pen, paper and flame visuals were drawn on the computer or adapted from scanned photos, edited and animated, then stored in the computer and rear-projected onto the large screen.

To maximize legibility, the photos of the winning ads were rear-projected from conventional slides. The credits for each ad were computer-generated text that ‘wiped’ onto the screen.

For the future-oriented rsvp awards, we created a sleek, full-color control panel ‘frame’ that featured such animated ‘enhancements’ as a continuously revolving globe, sliding control knobs, illuminated circuitry and flashing leds.

Appropriate electronic sounds were digitally stored in the computer to accompany the animated frame image.

The evening kicked off with a brief digital a/v module on taking charge of the future.

At times, the frame contained the animated rsvp ‘face,’ its mouth moving in sync with pre-recorded narration.

Other times, the frame unveiled an award category name, along with a digital music ‘sting.’

Finally, the frame presented the winning direct marketing projects (again projected from slides), followed by computer-generated credits that flew on-screen.

The presentation support in these shows was created by our in-house designers using off-the-shelf software. The animated sequences were run in real time, directly from the computer’s hard disk.

Thanks to today’s computer-animated presentation technology, presentations are becoming more dramatic and visually interesting, thereby sustaining audience attention and retention.

After all, keeping the back row awake and involved is what it is all about.

Bruce Gazley is production manager of Cinema Inc., a division of The Mariposa Group, a sales and marketing communications company based in Toronto that frequently creates computer-animated presentations for corporate clients.