Google and the City: The Sequel

First there was VOXEL.  Now, ETHOS.  

It was a 2-project promise when we signed on to work with Google West Loop and their Main Lobby digital art installation initiative. While VOXEL relied solely on animation and graphic design work, ETHOS was a complete Banner team effort.  The end result is a new take on timelapse photography prevalent in today’s industry.

 By definition, Ethos is a Greek word meaning “character” and used to describe ideals that characterize a community. For our purposes, it refers to the spirit of a city (Chicago).  We found creative inspiration showing this spirit in a more real, less tourism brochure way. It was a chance to get more intimate with a town that we interact with on a daily basis. Once we decided that Ethos was the way to go, it was a matter of executing the project in a way that aligned with Google’s cutting-edge culture.

The final product is displayed on a massive multi-foot wall comprised of millions of pixels.  Any footage we used stood the risk of losing a lot of resolution to cover that entire space (layman’s terms: it was going to be a blurry mess).  The creative minds of our graphics department determined that timelapses would solve this problem and the concept grew from there.  The footage would be edited in an abstract way and visual design would really enhance the look and feel.

Roughly 25 timelapses were filmed over the course of a calendar year and separated into two chapters:  Winter and Summer. Locations were determined by detailed research of “parts unknown” and personal recommendations from locals.  There are still some very iconic spots in our Ethos pieces, but they are shown in less recognizable conditions (Millennium Park Bean topped with snow during a winter storm).  Every decision on the imagery that made the final cut was done with the mindset that we were showing Chicago in an atypical fashion.

To wrap it all up in a hip Google bow, our Motion Graphics department took all of the footage and worked their visual design magic. It was important to approach the editing process by addressing individual shots with a big picture mindset. “Important Aspect Number Two” was the presence of the Google brand, which the audience will recognize in the geometric and color details. 

 Putting this type of project together was a creatively enriching and new experience for the Banner staff that we thoroughly enjoyed. The architecture and special elements of each timelapse drove the animation and presented a unique challenge each time. Reflective elements allowed the designers to composite shapes into them so they looked like they were actually part of the real environment. The ultimate beauty of this concept is the intricacy of the details that allows someone to discover something new every time he watches the video.