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January 24, 2011

2 New Videos on the Connected and Entertainment Experience with Microsoft Products

Back in December, I posted about a really neat video directed by Keith Rivers that highlighted how up and coming indie artist Andrew Belle used Windows 7 and Windows Live to create a song. If you liked that video, you won’t want to miss these two new videos that were also directed by Keith that go beyond Windows 7 and Windows Live to highlight the entire breadth of Microsoft products being used together to create some amazing experiences. These videos, along with the Andrew Belle video, were showcased at the Microsoft booth at CES with all the PCs and devices that were used.

Video 1: Making of a Flash Mob

Have you ever wondered what kind of work goes in to coordinating and planning a flash mob (click here if you don’t know what a flash mob is)? Using PCs such as the Dell Inspiron Duo (read Ben’s review) and the Samsung QX410, as well as their Windows Phones – local choreographers and dancers here in Seattle use Windows Live (Messenger, Mesh) and Kinect to plan and coordinate a flash mob at Pioneer Square. Pretty impressive.

Video 2: Road Trip to Mt. Hood

In this video, skiers and snowboarders head off on a road trip from Seattle to Mt. Hood to hit the slopes. While on the road, and then even on the slopes and from the lodge at an elevation of 6,000 feet, they use their Windows Phones, Kinect and Xbox, and the ASUS Eee Slate (read Ben’s review) to stay entertained with music, movies, and games.

I got on the phone last week with Keith to talk about these videos and get some backstory. For these two videos, Keith told me his initial approach was to do something similar to what they had done with the Andrew Belle video but with 2 new musicians. However as he began to concept the videos with Microsoft, they decided they wanted to focus on other real stories that branched beyond the music industry: one about coordinating a flash mob and another following a group of skiers on a road trip to Mt. Hood. Keith not only directed the videos but wrote both of them as well and he did so in just a matter of a few days. He had about a month to do these videos which included the writing all the way to finishing post-production and handing off the final videos to us (Microsoft) for CES.

Keith used resources around him for these videos. Keith happened to be good friends with Bobby Bonsey and Egan Orion who are flash mob choreographers and producers in Seattle. He had been fascinated by the idea of a flash mob and thought following the design and production of a flash mob could be really interesting for people to see. And Keith also grew up skiing in the Pacific Northwest and had done some really great videos early in his career on freestyle skiing. He also knew of some local skiers and snowboarders who participated in competitions in the area. So deciding to do a video on a flash mob and another on skiing came as easy choices. For the skiing video, he chose the location of Mt. Hood because of the weather and because it had a beautiful lodge that gave an antique, historic look he was looking for.

Each video shoot had its challenges. The shoot for the flash mob video was done pretty fast and because of that, Keith called it “one of the most insane productions we’ve ever done”. For the Mt. Hood shoot, getting the live-action shots of the skiers and snowboarders was pretty challenging and the lift shots proved to be really challenging with the person holding the camera literally hanging off the back to film. His team was also shooting live products in use, which sometimes took extra time to light correctly to adjust for the brightness and contrast of the screen. But on the other hand, Keith also recalls how much fun it was for his crew and the people in the videos to get to use some of the newest products like the Dell Inspiron Duo and Windows Phone 7, and how addicting Kinect Sports was and easy to pick up.

In making these videos, Keith worked with producer Rebecca Davis, TJ Williams Jr. who was their Director of Photography, Nick Pezzillo who was the editor for the flash mob video and Daniel Soderberg who was the editor for the Mt. Hood video.

Keith says he was gratified that Microsoft gave him the opportunity to go out and do some really creative stories with these videos. I certainly enjoyed them and am often fascinated by the backstory behind videos like these. I hope you enjoyed hearing the backstory for these videos!