We're Whadif, a video content agency where artists from all over the world submit their ideas and videos for our clients to win big. And you guessed it...the best work wins.

Visit us at www.whadif.com to sign up for an exclusive invite. Or submit something awesome you want us to see today.

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Stick to the Crowd - Apple and the Creative Crowd

http://youtu.be/5DHYe4dhjXw

 

It doesn’t take the brilliance of Neil deGrasse Tyson to know that Apple has a long and storied history of incredible advertising. They have used everything from dancing to hip wit in an effort appeal to their audience. Their campaigns aim to empower the Apple user base as the cutting edge of technology and culture. The result is that Apple is synonymous with artists and the digital creative community.

 

In their latest ad, Apple has reached out to their creative community for some help. This ad uses stickers designed for MacBooks to great effect in a stop motion style advertisement. The flow of one sticker to another is so well executed you would think Jan Švankmajer was the visual consultant. The stickers themselves range from Breaking Bad’s Heisenberg to abstract patterns, making the ad familiar yet original.

 

Apple didn’t create these stickers. Every Macbook ships out with the same brushed aluminum clamshell with an Apple logo in the center. Nor are Apple users the first to sticker up their laptops. However, a quick Etsy search will illustrate the impressive cottage industry that has popped up around Macbook decals. It turns out that fostering a creative culture leads to inventive uses for your product.

 

Apple was able to make this ad by embracing the creative power of the Apple crowd. Yet again, we are shown that crowdsourcing is not limited to funding or cut rate work. The creative crowd is capable of reinventing the world in real time. And brands stand to reap the spoils by engaging. It’s not enough to simply speculate based on limited data. A brand has to engage with their customer community and notice the little things, like Etsy stickers for their product. The wisdom is in the crowd. All one has to do is tune in.

Thank you all for submitting to WhadIf’s launch campaigns. We learned a lot from the submissions, specifically the rough cuts.

First and foremost, we have learned that the best communication is sincere communication. We all need to remember that an advertisement is giving a voice to a product that has none. We all prefer for those in our life to speak from the heart. And our winners found the brand’s heart and communicated that to the world.

Luckily for WhadIf, the submissions that lost were just as sincere as the winners. But some of our submissions did forget one of the most important rules of production; always shoot for your end delivery medium.

We received several submissions that would have made brilliant web ads. However, in this case, testers seemed to be looking for broadcast ready spots. So cameras that shot with compressed formats and stock lenses did not fare as well as the spots shot with top level, broadcast grade equipment. Your camera’s codec does matter, as does the lens. The brand’s customers who are being tested have watched ads their entire life. They can tell the difference between different grades of production, even if they cannot articulate those differences in the most technical of terms.

Most of our winners utilized outdoor lighting to a great extent with lenses and filters that gave them control over the situation. Remember, whereas the content is what you are attempting to communicate, the production is how you are trying to communicate it. The testing audience can see and discern the difference without knowing what a Zeiss Compact Prime is.

All of that said, every submission was special in its own way. We were all (honestly) stunned by the caliber of the submissions. Please let us know if you need advice when it comes to producing your spots. These campaigns showed that when we work with you the possibilities are endless. So let’s push together and create some great work.

-Scott Locwick, Whadif Team

Photo credit: http://framediscreet.com/

Steve and Audrey Berk, the father/daughter stars of the spot, being filmed by Hugh Brownstone, with production assistant Tom Hartmann looking on. The furry star of the show, Bella, belonging to Eileen & Brian Provost. Hugh and Tom finesse the set and lighting, while Audrey waits for her cue. A close up on Steve and Audrey as Steve lifts Bella out from behind the counter for the big reveal!

Behind the Scenes for Mt. Pleasant

By: 1st Prize Winner, Hugh Brownstone

Our Mt. Pleasant video began with a change of heart: while we loved coming up with concepts for the Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter campaign and were excited that one of our concepts won, we hadn’t intended to go beyond that point. As a very small company with many other plates spinning, our thought was that we didn’t have room for pro bono work at that moment.

Yet we simply changed our minds at the last minute. We decided that we wanted the experience of moving through all of the phases of a production under tight deadlines, and figured we’d learn a great deal in a very short timeframe while promoting a worthy cause.

We did!

We took the storyboarding process that we’d applied in the NAPA campaign to plan out the shoot for a renegade concept we felt we could actually produce. We loved our Speed Dating concept, but we knew that it would simply require more planning, permission, time, equipment, staff, and budget than were available to us. The concept that we ran with — Pet Concierge — began with our fond memories of the movie THE PARENT TRAP. This quickly morphed into an homage to the Eloise books and was one that we’d brainstormed during the concept phase but forgot to submit!

Claudia and I batted ideas around script ideas like we always do, and it wasn’t long before we had our script — and were off and running.

But we then faced multiple, simultaneous challenges:

  • What hotel would let us bring in a dog, take over their lobby — and do so on such short notice?
  • Where are we find the right dog?
  • Where were we going to get the actors?
  • Who could help us with the actual shoot?
  • How would we shoot the opening sequence when it called for — but we didn’t have access to — a stabilizer?
  • And how were we going to mic this when we only had one wireless lav set?

We were immediately fortunate that a dear friend of ours and filmmaker and photographer in his own right, Tom Hartmann, jumped at the opportunity to pitch in as our sound and lighting guy. He says he’s not a gearhead, but he’s in major denial — luckily for us!

The very next thing we did was contact a really beautiful hotel, The Hotel Monaco, in Philly. We’ve stayed in a number of Kimpton hotels and know they’re really stylish; staffed with really nice people; and are pet-friendly.

And we’d scouted it earlier for another project.

Yet they turned us down — nicely. After all, we were asking them to make this happen on very short notice, on one of the busiest weekends of the year — Memorial Day! They loved the idea and wanted to help, but they just couldn’t accommodate us.

And we hadn’t even found a dog or acting talent.

We thought “OK, we tried. But it really IS too much work; we don’t have any of the other pieces; so that’s that — let’s call it a day and plan on going to the beach.”

But….

We were walking our own dog later that same day (Sophie is way too big and…frenetic, shall we say?) when we bumped into a neighbor and we thought “wait, a minute, THEY have the PERFECT dog.” By that night, we’d firmed it up with Eileen Provost: she’d make her mini-Doberman mix, Bella, available for the shoot.

Now we reversed ourselves again. We reached out to a number of other local hotels, but they all — to varying degrees — had the same response: great cause, but not practical on such short notice at such a busy time of year.

Once again, we thought, “OK, we really tried, but it’s just not happening — and we don’t have the actors yet anyway.”

And again, but…

That’s when we got an email from a friend of a friend — a great guy named Steve — saying he’d be happy to play the role of concierge and oh, by the way, he had a daughter if we were still looking for a young girl.

Really?

OK, now we HAD to find a way to make this work.

We thought about the very reasonable objections the hotels couldn’t overcome, most especially inconveniencing guests as they were checking in or checking out.

And that’s when it hit us: what if we filmed at the hotel when the guests weren’t IN the lobby?

Like, say, 5:30 AM?

We went back to our first choice, the Hotel Monaco. Kristin Huxta, their area public relations manager, was fantastic — and with our new proposal, was able to get us to “yes.”

We were in! IF we could get Steve and his daughter Audrey — and Eileen with her Bella — at the hotel by, yep, 5:30AM.

The rest, as you now know, is history. Everyone was absolutely wonderful and eagerly contributed to the Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter mission (Eileen actually came in the night before so that Bella would be well-rested and ready for her close-up). Steve and Audrey were troopers. And we wouldn’t have gotten the shots without Tom’s lighting (we’ve cut over to all LED’s now).

Finally, with all that, we were still packed up and out by 8:00AM!!

We learned so much in the process — and felt so good doing it — we’d do it again.

NOTE: The two people you don’t see in these photos who were instrumental in making the spot are Hugh’s partner Claudia Davis - who among many other things took these photos - and Kristin Huxta of the Hotel Monaco for pulling out the stops to make filming there possible.

Armani Smith, of LA production company Live Art Love, was our top grand prize winner in the NAPA Auto Parts project. He and his sister, Tiffany Smith, wrote, directed and produced the 1st place version of Broken Down Marine. We caught up with Armani one sunny summer day to ask him how he does it – how THEY do it. As we found out, he and Tiffany are a team, a unit, and they do all of their projects together.

Going to school at Cal State Northridge for marketing, Armani knew he didn’t want to work for anyone. He’s always been a self-starter and loves taking on new challenges. After spending time working with friends at a bigger production company, Armani and Tiffany decided to see what they could do all on their own. They already had many of the skills to run a production company under their belts, but had to figure out the ins and outs of the business themselves. That was just three short years ago, and in that time, they’ve had great success with documentaries, interviews and (a big part of their work) commercials.

In fact, their video for NAPA is airing on national television this summer! How’s that for commercial success?

Something that we loved about Armani and Tiffany is how positive and optimistic they are. Even after working long, 12 hour days to get just the right shots, they are upbeat and happy – because doing film is what they love. It’s inspiring to hear that someone’s so passionate about their work that they can’t wait to get up and do it everyday, even on a day off.

When I asked Armani who he had been in a past life, he said, “A stubborn individual. If I had to be somebody, I would be somebody who doesn’t listen to logic. I’ve always been a dreamer. Anything anyone has told me that was impossible, I’ve wanted to do that.” Well, making the winning video for NAPA wasn’t necessarily impossible, but they didn’t know their chances going into the project, and they made it happen!

When Armani and Tiffany heard about Whadif, they immediately liked the testing aspect. They had ideas of their own, but when they saw what came back from the story board testing, they knew they’d be putting their own spin on one of the concepts that NAPA’s audience had already said they liked. Says Armani, “At the end of the day, if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Sometimes clients don’t know what they want. And Whadif is about what the people want.”

When we asked Armani what “the best work wins” means to him and Tiffany, he said, “It means there’s no politics. There’s no room for subjectivity, people playing favorites or a client liking things because it reminds them of something else. When we make projects, we don’t make projects for brands, we make it for the people. You want the audience, the customers to love the commercial. It doesn’t matter if I think it’s the smartest in the world…if the people don’t like it, I’ve missed the mark. If the people like it, they like it. I like when it’s about the people.”

We are certainly about the people. The clients’ customers, and of course, great filmmakers like these two. We can’t wait to see what comes next for Live Art Love at Whadif!

Mike, on set for NAPA. Actor Brandon Rudd pulling off his best stern face. Photo Credit: 1st AD Kristy Haar Actor Hal Cohen shows the crew, Mike, Brandon and Travis Gensamer how to pop the hood on a car that doesn't do it with a button! Photo Credit: 1st AD Kristy Haar Mike Greenberg.

Mike Greenberg created the winning spot A Father’s Legacy for our NAPA Auto Parts project. We met him late this spring at a Philadelphia film meetup at Impact Hub. Right away, we learned he had a long history as a filmmaker and even has his own production company in Philadelphia, Konspiracy Studios. Konspiracy Studios is a production + post boutique, currently focused on delivering Madison Avenue quality film to local businesses in Philly. They work specifically with startups, restaurants and other artisanal businesses. Connect with Mike for more info, or follow him on instagram: mikegreenbergtv

We sat down with Mike after we had announced his NAPA win to get inside his brain. Instead of telling you about Mike in our words, here’s our conversation:

Whadif: What is your preferred name?

Mike Greenberg: Mike.

W: Mike, you got it. So Mike, who are you pretty sure you were in a past life?

MG: Ron Swanson. Or maybe Andrew Jackson. Because I’m fiercely independent to a fault.

W: Where are you from?

MG: From DC suburbs with a pitstop in Baltimore and now in Philadelphia.

W: If you had 3 wishes, and couldn’t wish for more wishes, what would your 3rd and final wish be?

MG: The ability to look at a decision, and know (without all the details) which choice would make me happier.

W: That’s a really good wish. Did you go to college? If so, where and what did you study?

MG: I spent my freshmen year at George Mason studying film, and then started freelancing. I had launched my production company when I was 17. So I just kept working!

W: Pretend you’re from early in the last century. What would you be most astounded by?

MG: Well, definitely the technical achievements and how marvelous they are. But also, the inefficiency of implementation of technology. We have so much food, but so much of it is unhealthy. We have phones in our pockets, but so many people can be unproductive.

W: It’s a crazy world we live in. So, when did you start video production?

MG: I started shooting skating videos at age 12. And then I started answering phones at a post production facility at 16, and bought my first good camera after that.

W: So you started out young! In what aspect would you say your passion for video and film lies?

MG: I got into editing first. It’s something you can do all by yourself. The resources are minimal to get started. I learned all the technical skills before I began story telling. So, now I have the tools to make video, and I’m still honing the story telling part. That’s a life long journey. I started out wanting to make kick-ass images, but they mean nothing without a message behind them.

W: Right you are on that one. How about your production company. Tell me a little bit of the background.

MG: I bought a $4000 camera when I was 16 and paid it off shooting weddings. From there, I’ve gone on to cut shows for National Geographic, G4, Travel Channel, and commercials. Now, I’m being more precise and targeted in my project choices. I’ve worked with other contractors, but mostly run the show by myself.

W: Awesome! Now. Tell me your favorite drink.

MG: Rum Runner. On the beach.

W: Good answer. Wish we were there right now! So, tell me a little bit about how you planned your shoot for NAPA.

MG: I was flying by the seat of my pants at the last minute for everything. I shot that Sunday before the deadline, and the whole thing was completed in 19 or 20 hours. It was a quick shoot. I hired an actor and recruited my friend. With the exception of our production assistant, no one had camera experience. I had 5 people total that worked on the video.

W: Well it turned out great! Would you happen to be interested in the next Whadif project?

MG: Definitely! Give us a cool brief again and we’ll deliver.

W: What does “the best work wins” mean to you?

MG: The best work wins for me means no middle men. It’s about the ideas and the people viewing them that decide the winners. You’re not playing the cat and mouse game about what you think they’d want. You’re testing it and showing them what they decide they want.

W: Awesome answer, Mike. You definitely get it. We look forward to seeing what you come up with next!

Hugh Brownstone examines the camera angle while directing actor Brian Kemtinski. Actor Brian Kemtinski takes a quick break from the shoot. Brian Kemtinski, Hugh Brownstone and Claudia Davis on set. Claudia Davis, keeping it light. Inventive camera hacks, by Hugh and Claudia. Hugh Brownstone takes another look at the scene with actor Brian Kemtinski.

Hugh Brownstone and Claudia Davis created the second winning version of Broken Down Marine for the NAPA Auto Parts project. They’re a dynamic pair that we met while visiting with some folks in the Philadelphia film scene at a Rough Cuts meetup when the NAPA project began. They’ve been with us every step of the way since they joined the Whadif community, submitting one of the winning NAPA concepts (Route 66), a winning concept for Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter (Speed Dating) and now the top winning video in the Mt. Pleasant video phase (to be released soon!).

We sat down with Hugh and Claudia to find out a little bit more about who they are and how they came to be part of the Whadif family. Hugh is originally from Brooklyn, NY and started doing still photography at the age of 7. He has always loved story-telling, but didn’t begin creating video to tell these stories until recently. Hugh worked in the fast paced world of New York business thinking he had to live hard and fast while he could. After life-saving open heart surgery, he gained a new perspective on what life could be and decided to dedicate himself to telling the stories he loved so much. Claudia is from Zurich, Switzerland, and after going to school for the visual arts, launched a successful career in makeup and production work in Europe.

Together, Hugh and Claudia started Three Blind Men and an Elephant Productions to fulfill their dreams and since then, have hit the ground running. Before Whadif, they shot and produced a piece for social impact organization North Light Community Center called Light in Manayunk. And they are eager to do more.

We love this team because of their commitment to truth in story telling and their passion for the process. Hugh says, “Our objective in everything we do is authenticity, humanity and wit. If you love something, you love the mistakes as well as the successes. We love the whole process. We loved Whadif’s concept phase and story board phase, which led in turn to screenwriting, choice of colors, camera angles, and more. Everything about the creative process is like taking hits of pure oxygen for us. The way the world is today, the thing that we need more of is art.”

Their NAPA shoot was no exception. They spent 2 days filming, after securing the cars, the location and the actors. To prepare for the production, they took their story board to the next level to truly map out in detail how and what they were going to shoot. Since they picked a public place for the location, they garnered lots of interest from passersby, in the form of waves, honks and even salutes. And it all made for a winning finished product.

At Whadif, we say the best work wins. When we asked Hugh and Claudia what that means to them, they said “For us, the best work is what is perceived to be the best by the people who count most. The best work – the work that won — is what resonated most with the audience we created it for.” We look forward to seeing more work from these two as they grow as filmmakers and we add new projects to our arsenal.

Armani Smith's Broken Down Marine Brandon Cole's Navy Veteran Mike Greenberg's A Father's Legacy Hugh Brownstone and Claudia Davis' Broken Down Marine

It all started out as a project brief we created for NAPA Auto Parts and a whole bunch of creative people who thought they might like to be a part of it. We wanted to see what you were capable of and we set out to make it as fun as possible.

Now, 12 weeks later, we’ve seen ideas, story boards and videos. We’ve tested with NAPA’s target audience at all three stages and found out what made them tick when it came to a salute to the military. The client has been impressed at every stage of the game as we have presented your work.

We now have our top four video winners for you to view. Watch what has evolved from just words on a screen. Our team would like to invite ALL of our creators to take a bow. We could only award four spots, but everyone’s work made this project take shape and we couldn’t have done it without you!

So, head on over to the project page and view the rough cut winners - the finals will be ready in the next few weeks.

Remember to check look out for our testing findings, project wrap-up and more Whadif artist features! 

View the winners now.

Following many rounds of testing, we have announced the next phase of the Mt. Pleasant project - video! We extend a big thanks to everyone who submitted in the idea phase and congratulate our three winners on submitting such great concepts!

We received lots of wonderful submissions - the creativity we saw in this phase was boundless. We didn’t know there were so many ways to feature a pet placement service, but you guys came through! Since we were only working with three top spots (unlike the 10 we had for NAPA), it would have been awfully tough to make the selection on our own.

After carefully constructing our ideation survey, we posed the series of questions about a random selection of concepts to hundreds of people in Mt. Pleasant’s demographic. Over the course of the test, we learned that this audience favored simple ideas over complex. They valued clarity over nuance. And the emotional impact of the spot - the feelings that could be elicited from a 256 character idea - was paramount.

We now open it back up to you to take one of the winning ideas - or even an idea that didn’t win that you believe in - and create a video for Mt. Pleasant. If you have questions or feedback about the project, let us know in the forum! And remember that all work for Mt. Pleasant can be claimed as a charitable donation on your 2014 taxes.

Whadif made this project with Mt. Pleasant happen because we support their mission to find safe, loving homes for dogs and cats. Check out the project page to learn more.

We received 27 story boards for NAPA Auto Parts and embarked on our very first story board testing at the end of April. Each of the 10 concepts was represented with at least one board. Most received 2 or more. “A Father’s Legacy,” which was the top concept submission, received 7 boards! We also received 3 “Renegade” submissions with totally new concepts.

The boards submitted represented a wide variety of artistic skills. Some had stunning hand drawn illustrations. Others utilized photos from the web. We had many creatives submit with cartoon-like illustrations from a story board or comic generator service. 

We embarked on our qualitative testing once all of the submissions were in. We surveyed a national representation of NAPA’s target audience and tallied up the votes on over 900 responses.

What we found we had not predicted, but made sense. 

The story board testing told us that the real weight was carried in the descriptions - the voiceover/dialogue and the action. The visuals acted as a companion, but could not carry the story. As with the ideas, the clear, concise stories did the best in the testing - ones that had a succinct setup, action and payoff at the end. The artwork definitely drew people to certain boards, but we found that once the testers read the script and action, the visuals mattered less. The story boards that performed the best had a script that read like a TV commercial. This allowed people to visualize and really “hear” the spot playing out in their imagination.

As you can see from the results, Broken Down Marine and A Father’s Legacy were the clear winning concepts that resonated with NAPA’s target audience. The more subtle and true of a story, the better the story board performed. Ideas that tried to be overly patriotic or seemed unreasonable did not connect with viewers. The military imagery and stories aligned with the target’s perception of NAPA and spoke to them on an emotional level. We also found that the more involved the tester was with DIY repairs, the more attracted they were to concepts that showed military personnel in heroic roles.

Thanks for taking this ride with us as we move closer to the final product for NAPA - the videos! If you want to submit a video or check out the winning story boards, head on over to the project page. And if you have any questions, let us know!

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