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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Time For A Change

Web-designed content may be the destiny of commercial advertising. Rolex's new photography campaign offers a panorama of what the future holds.

A Time For A ChangeWhile Web-based sales get bigger and bigger, companies are focusing on advertisement solely for an Internet-based constituency. New ad techniques are being birthed directly for the Web, and the possibilities of computer and mechanical technologies are being put to the test with every fresh idea. A new campaign by Rolex, its Extraordinary Watches series, is designed to showcase nine distinctive Oyster Perpetual models. Each set incorporates an omnidirectional display, encompassing the “world” of each watch by presenting video, animation and still-photography interpretations of its lifestyle and particular advantages.

Stephen Frink is among the world's most prominent talents in the field of underwater photography, so it's no coincidence that Rolex tapped him to shoot a panorama-style animation for the Submariner, one of Rolex's model dive watches. Safely submergible to depths of up to 1,000 feet, it was Rolex's goal to show the Submariner in the ideal ocean environment, and it was Frink's job to take a Matrix-style panoramic sequence of shots highlighting the perfect setting for a beautiful watch.

“When this particular project came up,” says Frink, “they called me because my background, obviously, is in marine photography and the places people go for scuba. I'm very well connected with dive operators and resort infrastructure throughout the tropical world, and my ability to choose the right location was important. My assignment began with the research—where to go when the criteria involves beautiful beaches, reasonably easy access and consistent sunshine and blue water.”

Originally conceived as an animation that was to revolve in a 180-degree arc around the Submariner, Frink was to take images in five-degree increments and then hand them over to Critical Mass, the post and Web design firm responsible for the Rolex Website. Indicative of how important postproduction is to the entire photography process in the days of digital, Critical Mass was to be involved in the complete project, from scouting to capture to edit.

“Having our eyes there instead of on a set of instructions allowed for instant decisions when we were searching for a location,” says Critical Mass art director Carl Lukasewich. “We were able to instantly look at a beach and know whether it had enough flat sand or geographic details to make the shot interesting in a 180-degree panorama. This allowed Frink to do his job rather than guessing about what we needed. We chose the location, and he supplied the imaging expertise. Because of digital, we were able to see right away if our shooting was going to work.”


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