“Not Your Summer” follows “Live Looper,” an acclaimed academic-BBDO collaboration from 2017 that used the delayed audio and video features of Facebook Live for a hypnotic effect.
Last year, BBDO harnessed the visual power of Slides for Foot Locker to create “The Endless World of Air Max,” a hub for ubiquitous Nike kicks.
Below, in an edited conversation for clarity, we chat with some of the people behind the “Not Your Summer” project:
Muse: How did the livestream come about?
Bart Mol, BBDO, Senior Creative Director, Live Host: We pitched this idea to The Academic. We thought embarking on a new live tech venture would be an exciting sequel [to Live Looper]. After conversations about which song to use, we felt there was a strong connection between the idea and the lyrics to “Not Your Summer”. The Academic had just had their European tour canceled, and we all thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to continue to provide their fans with a one-of-a-kind live experience.
Can you explain why the lyrics fit into the concept of the project?
Mol: The song “Not Your Summer” can be interpreted as a Covid-themed song. It’s about a wasted summer [because you wind up] locked in your house. But we wanted to go further. One saying that is repeated throughout is “I need to get away from myself.” We felt it was a strong universal feeling that transcends this moment and used the notion of not feeling happy with yourself and needing a break as the common thread of the experience. .
With that in mind, we designed the story we wanted to tell. This is someone who is literally trying to get away from himself. The main character breaks with his alter ego. This results in an exciting chase through different pages of Google Slides, in which we creatively offer as many platform features as possible.
Upon entering, did you know how you would tell the story, what style would you use?
Mol: Before we started creating the story, we had in mind techniques we could use, like drawing shapes, typing text, and syncing the multi-page thumbnails, but in the end all of the narrative choices were based on the song itself.
Was there a big team involved in the livestream?
Mike Woodall, BBDO, Co-Director, Senior Producer, Live Host: There were about 20 people working behind the scenes on July 15th. We had 11 live hosts, including four band members, a QA manager running the container website. and a live audio stream, a technical director broadcasting the experience on YouTube, post-production partners recording the experience from various computers, and a behind-the-scenes crew filming the animators remotely with drop-kit setups.
Can you walk us through the preparation and the live workflow?
Woodall: We started preparing for the event through visual exploration and animation development with Open the Portal, an animation studio based in Los Angeles, in April. We first approached the clip with traditional animatics. Once the animation was approved, we started slowing the frame rate to match the refresh rate of Google Slides. [of approximately 1 second]. This allowed us to understand what types of sequences would work and translate well in the Slides ecosystem. We had to figure out how many images we could stack on top of each other on a slide before they caused significant delays or a crash.
After a lot of testing, we decided to divide the show into four acts, which allowed us to find the comfort level of picture ability per slide. With that plan in place, we started creating GIFs and text boxes to drop throughout the show. As soon as we had all the final pieces in place, we spent about a month rehearsing each day before the show.
When viewers tuned in live, what exactly did they see?
Woodall: The Google Slides experience started on July 15th and opened for our first show at 6:00 PM. We had two more shows that day, at 9 PM and 12 PM. The first 15 minutes of each event was what we called the “waiting room”, where fans could learn a bit more about what they were about to see. We’ve included slides explaining how to sync audio with visuals, how to prepare for the best viewing experience, a sample of the animation and GIFs, and a slide with an avatar of each group member. Every member of The Academic was able to type messages to the audience about “Not Your Summer” and the EP’s release later that night.
Was the group really into it or did they need to be convinced?
Woodall: From the start, The Academic was excited about the concept. Before approaching the group with the idea, our team worked on several prototypes to explore what was possible on the platform. We got to show the full potential of Slides as an animation platform, as well as a glimpse into the story, and they jumped on board. Considering our previous production of live music videos for “Live Looper”, we knew they would be keen to do something special again.
Doesn’t that sound like a showcase for Google Slides as much as it does for the band?
Andrew Osborne, BBDO, Executive Producer, Head of Content Operations: Slides and the rest of the Google ecosystem have become such a big part of the daily workflow for those operating from home throughout the pandemic [that using the platform fit the song’s theme]. We had people in New York, California, Oregon, Canada, England and Ireland all working together to bring this project to life. The collaborative nature of the platform allowed us not only to use it for the coordination and planning of the show, but it also became the stage for that experience. We took what is generally considered a traditional business tool and did something fun and unexpected.
“Not your summer”
Google Slides music video experience
Craig Fitzgerald: Lead vocals, Guitar
Matthew Murtagh: Guitar
Stephen Murtagh: Bass
Dean Gavin: Drums
Carl Brogan: Group leader
Tom Paul: Managing Director
Alia Aldeghather: Product Manager
Open the portal
Trever Stewart: Co-Director, Technical Director, Live Host
David Braun: animation director
Barrett Slagle: executive producer
Xenia Balashov: 1st AD, artistic director
David Lubars: Creative Director, World
Bart Mol: SVP, Senior Creative Director, Live Host
Pol Hoenderboom: SVP, Creative Director
Mike Woodall: Co-Director, Lead Producer, Live Host
Andrew Osborne: Head of Content Operations
James Young: Head of Digital Operations
Alex Gianni: Executive Vice President, Director of Content Production
Chava Quinn: Producer
Benner Rawley: Editor
Maya Iwata: Artistic Director
Phillip Savage: Technical Director of Live Broadcasting
Jimmy McGee: Quality Assurance
Jonathan Hsu: Supervising Producer
Allie Kolb: Senior Post-Producer
Morgan Ammons: live host
Alex Mirza: Live Host
Kevin Bostic: Live Host
Jason Kim: live host, editor
Alex Lubars: editor
Sean Quinn: executive producer for Live Stream Equipment Manager
Mike Woodall: Director
Jonathan Hsu: Supervising Producer
Allie Kolb: Senior Post-Producer
Jason Kim: editor-in-chief