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  • Top Ten SXSW Posters

    SXSW (or South by Southwest for non-natives) is a music, film, and trade festival that takes place every year in Austin, TX. Hosted by mostly indie-produced media, it's a ton of fun, entertainment, and the perfect look-out for upcoming heavy-hitters.

    It's known as the biggest music festival of it's kind, with performances all over the city in at least 100 venues.  As far as I know, many indie films have been picked up there, or by other festivals like Sundance, by big Hollywood studios for distribution. In recent years, they've attached a Gaming Expo and a trade floor to expand their audience. It's what makes festivals like this great and what makes them cool. And all in all, it turns Austin into the city that never sleeps for a week.

    They've also got some of the best poster designs I've ever seen. They truly go out of the box and don't employ your average marketing firm to handle the advertising. I've scoured the interwebs and collected my personal favorite Top Ten SXSW Posters. Take a glance through the art, and I hope that you are inspired to go out of your comfort zone and create a poster that will knock the pants off of your customers.

    1) SXSW Comedy 2013

    2) Small Stone, 2004

    3) Concert poster, 2009

    4) "Vision of the Future", 2011

    5) Kanine Records, 2010

    6) "You're Welcome!", 2012

    7)  Film Screenings, 2009

    8) Shepard Fairey, 2008

    9) Ed Romanoff, 2012

    10) La Faro, 2011

  • Academy Awards - Part 3!

    And we're back to the Awards! It's this weekend, February 24th, and Hollywood is already buzzing about who will win. We're going to take a step back from the glitz and the glam today by looking at some poster designs from a more unexpected source: the Documentary Features.

    I actually love a good documentary myself, especially on more controversial modern topics. But beside that, there is also an art form found in documentaries that fictional films try to achieve everyday, and that's the human experience.

    In a movie theater, we at least have the knowledge that the film we are watching is fictional, or in the case of 'Argo', a live dramatization of actual events. Regardless, usually the content is something that we don't often have to think about in our daily lives.  It's either something totally, fiction, something that happened in the past, or something that happened in another country.

    But with a documentary, there's the realization that these are people who are (mostly) alive today and walking around. They are not historical figures (mostly), or fictional characters, but people whom events in their live have culminated into a story worth telling. THAT'S where this award comes in. It must be difficult to judge the human experience, and to judge which one was 'best', but alas it must be done in this award show.

    Take a look at the posters below, and perhaps you can add som human experience to your next poster or banner design, that best reflects your missions as a company.

    1) 5 Broken Cameras

    A Palestinian farm worker documents a town's resistance and the response of the Israeli Defense Force, as a barrier wall in erected in the West Bank village of Bil'in. It spans over the course of many years and took 5 cameras to film.

    This poster illustrates quite obviously what the content of the film is about. It's set in the Middle East, there are five cameras involved, and it's about a family with the the little boy in the foreground. I especially like the inclusion of soldiers in the background behind the man with the cameras. They're faint, easy to miss, but you can easily tell that the resistance will be violent.

    2) The Gatekeepers

    Six former heads of Israel's counterterrorism agency, Shin Bet, spill about their secrets and mistakes, even successes, within the agency and how the agency has shaped relations between Israel and Palestinians today.

    What I love about this poster is the face: it's made up of six pieces, each one from  different ex-head of Shin Bet, showing that although they come from different backgrounds and had different policies, they still share the same umbrella and global pressure.

    3) How To Survive A Plague

    This film takes a look back at the growing response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980's, when the riots, protests, and cries for treatment research were at their peak. They take a look at both sides: those who were in the crowds at the protests, and those who were in the labs, searching for a cure.

    As some of you might remember, I have a fondness for minimalist poster designs, and this one is right up there in some of the best I've seen. You don't need a crowd of voices and pumped fists to get attention, sometimes you just need a singular image. In case you can't read it, the figure in red at the top says, "Treatment or Riot". Sums up the film pretty much.

    4) The Invisible War

    Not many people are aware of the rising sexual assault rate in the US Military. In 2010, there were 19,300 cases of sexual assault.  This film focuses on the women in our military, who were assaulted and are pressured to keep mum or find themselves ostracized from their comrades for speaking up.

    This is a pretty sensitive subject, which just makes my skin crawl as I type this. To think that so many members of our military were being abused while fighting for our freedom is inexcusable. But this poster attests to a lot of that with a single image: a female soldier's face, with a look of such vulnerability, you'd have to be stupid to miss it.  Can't go wrong with close-up shot, but just make sure it's the one that says it all without words.

    5) Searching for Sugar Man

    Perhaps, this will be a nice change in pace. In the 1970's,  a singer and songwriter named Rodriguez, put out two albums, then disappeared in light of their failures. Two fans from South Africa decide to search for him and why he disappeared from his love of music.

    This could also count as a minimalist poster. You've got the singer in question, strutting down a road with a guitar on his back, and with a purpose. Make me curious if they ever find him as well.

     

    Well, there you have it folks! The five nominees for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards.  Don't forget to tune in THIS SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24th, fo the award show.

  • Top 10 Posters by Peter Jackson

    Alas, the day has arrived and there was much rejoicing in the land of Nerdom, as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was finally released in theaters.

    There was singing and dancing and bad reviews...!

    Wait, what?

    Yes, yes, sadly there are quite a few critics who disliked the film, but if you cast them aside for a moment, the general fervor among moviegoers is an A+ rating for the film. Good for Peter Jackson!

    Say what you will, Peter Jackson has created some of the most iconic films of all time (not to mention setting a high bar for future fantasy flicks). In honor of this momentous occasion, let's take a look back at some of Peter Jackson's previous work and the posters that stirred the public's imagination.

     The Frighteners

    Look at that! I mean, really look at it! This movie didn't scare me when I first saw it (Marty McFly and some sidekick ghosts? Pah-lease), but this poster sure does. The fact that it looks like something trying to break the 4th wall and come crawling through your computer screen....ugh.

    Heavenly Creatures

    It seems like that's all he's good at really: horror and fantasy (though those two tend to mix, don't they?). Anyway, Heavenly Creatures was one twisted film about a couple of twisted sisters (though not related). I like the juxtaposition of putting the more intimidating girl's face above the lesser, innocent-looking one. Gives you that false sense of security about their character, huh?

    King Kong

    There is beauty in simplicity. Here we have the face of Kong. THAT'S IT. And yet, when this teaser poster was first released, people went nuts. It wasn't exactly a secret that this was Jackson's next project, but the detail on King Kong's face was absolutely stunning.

    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

    Yup yup. We've seen this poster so often, its making us all SICK. But in a heart-wrenching, nostalgic, "punch to the feels" kind of way. What made this poster design so compelling was how bold it was. Right away, a viewer could tell that this wasn't going to be some butterflies-and-unicorns remake of Tolkien. Nope, from the gritty green tone to the sunken eyes of Frodo, we immediately understand that this is not an adventure for the weak at heart.

    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

    The underdog of the trilogy, The Two Towers' poster is a little lackluster compared to the initial dankness of the first poster. There's also a color scheme going (which is good to keep in mind for your own poster design): Fellowship of the Ring was green, Two Towers is brown/sepia, and Return of the King (below) was a lighter combination of the two, with a sense of finality.

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

    Quite an iconic finish for a fantastic trilogy. Need I say more?

    The Lovely Bones

    I love how this poster plays with light in the foreground and background of the image. A nefarious figure, an innocent girl...and you can tell right away that something either terrible or weird is going to happen to her.

    District 9

    Absolutely one of my favorite sci-fi films in recent years. And the whole attitude is right here on the poster. Peter Jackson may not have directed this himself, but he did produce it and had a lot of say in the story elements. What was even more marvelous was how low-budget it was for a fantastic CGI film.

    The Adventures of Tintin

    It must've been a childhood dream come true for Spielberg and Jackson. Not to mention Steven Moffat as well, one of my favorite screenwriters (who also appears in Sherlock). Anyway, for a children's comic, I was quite surprised by how dark and mysterious this poster turned out to be. It's not quite what you expected, but it makes that childhood wonder all the more wondrous.

    And finally......The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

    This was the first released poster at the San Diego Comic-Con this past summer, along with a packed panel full of rowdy fans. But the beauty of this design also lies in its simplicity. It's as thought Gandalf is coming to coax you on this adventure with him. The next posters to come out were full of Bilbo and the 13 dwarves (who I LOVE, by the way), but this one still remains my favorite. Just the way the green pasture is peaceful, but the clouds overhead foreshadow things to come...love it.

    Well that's it, folks! My top ten poster designs from Peter Jackson's greatest hits. Bless that man, and may we see more of his work for years to come.

  • Banner Inspiration! Featuring David A. Reeves

    It's always cool to see a photograph where no Photoshop touches have been done, and everything within the frame is raw and real.

    Now, David Reeves' style isn't as "gut-wrenchingly" hardcore as other photographers, but his paper scenes are pretty impressive.

    Using his camera, some bins, black paper, and clever positioning, Reeves can create all sorts of scenes, like a cowboy shootout, a samurai duel, or a little boy lost at sea. At first glance, they may seem out of place, something is off about them. But what you don't know is that they're all made of paper, with the scenery and characters specifically positioned to give that background/foreground blur and feel.

    Let's take a look at my favorite: the Samurai Duel!

    And here's how he did it...

    Clever, eh? I thought so.  If you check out his tumblr site HERE, he not only shows off his best photographs, but also a picture of how he set them up.

    So...what's the lesson? A banner design doesn't have to be expensive or photoshopped to the point of unrecognizable. Sometimes, just using paper, a clever set-up, and a camera is all you need. Take a picture of your creation, blow it up, and turn it into an awesome ad for your newest product, event, or store sale. Personally, I think these would be great for film festivals or movie theaters. :)

  • Minimalist Banners: A New Trend in Advertising

    It's sometimes easier to step back and keep your next banner design simple. Just the basic geometric shapes will do, or what's most important to your business or event.

    by Edgar Ascensao

    There's a trend circling around called "Minimalist Movie Posters". It's about designing a mock movie custom poster by taking what you think is the most symbolic aspect of the film and bringing it to the forefront. For example, the movie "Thor" might have a single picture of the famous hammer and absolutely nothing else. If it's done well, or if you've chosen the right symbol, you may not even need the film's title in the piece. The image itself will tell the whole story.

    by Daniel Keane

    This approach can ignite a curiosity within your customers: imagine a single image and a few words on a wide banner. If chosen right, you could spark a viral marketing campaign that will leave your customers eager to discover what's coming. And while this is mostly successful for Hollywood, big businesses like Apple and Amazon have utilized this technique. Not in banners, per se, but in the limited clues they release up to the big reveal event.

    by Jonny Eveson

    Have you enjoyed the examples? Well, here's a few more to whet your appetite:

    By Matt Owen

    by Maria Kaner

    by Robert Olah

    If you like what you see, then check out Minimal Movie Posters, a tumblr-based archive of some of the greatest designs out there.

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