panOptic

By Tk Published on .

New York design/production studio panOptic (panoptic.org) lives up to its name, with a wide range of work to its credit since it opened in 1997. Among its many clients, the company has created motion design for MTV and CBS; music videos for DJ Spooky and the Wu-Tang Clan; commercials for Def Jam, RCA and AT&T; and short films and video installations for Gucci, Shiseido and Sergio Valente. But for sheer exposure, nothing can match panOptic's recent Coke "ribbon" logo redesign, part of the "Real" campaign, from Berlin Cameron/Red Cell. Yet panOptic president/CD Gary Breslin, who's partners in the firm with senior designer Kenzo Minami, doesn't view the Coke gig as any sort of milestone in the company's history. He notes that panOptic worked on Reebok's "Defy" campaign, seen on the Super Bowl, "and there have been other fairly large commercial clients over the years. Coke is even more mainstream, obviously, but I wouldn't say it's a major breakthrough. Doing end tags for high-end commercial clients has been our bread and butter for a while now; actually directing the live-action spots would be a major breakthrough. We're slated to produce some content for Coke's billboard in Times Square, and we'll direct some live action for that, which is always exciting."

Considerably more exciting is the fact that "we're moving more into full production for the kinds of things we do," says Breslin. "Conceptualization, directing, editing, post and producing; and we're definitely interested in doing more live action. TV commercials and music videos that involve a tight integration between 'real' imagery and CG are probably the ideal jobs for us." The latest high-profile TV work from panOptic is for the new fruit-flavored Sprite Remix. "We helped conceptualize the spots and did all the graphics," on a pair of :30s and a cinema :60, out of O&M, he notes. "We were originally slated to direct, but the concept changed to something more live action-heavy, so Paul Hunter was called in to shoot it."

Other panOptic projects seen here: For DJ Spooky's "Optometry" video (lower right), "Spooky had a friend cut this video entirely out of stock footage, then he felt like it needed more," says Breslin. "We've been building a visual language with him for years now, so it made sense for panOptic to add another layer to it. We shared the directing credit." Sci-Fi Channel promos, Japan (top, center): "We reinvented Yoshi, the channel host's character, in different ways. In this one he was a videogame character fighting the evil version of himself. We shot it with a still 35mm camera, frame by frame, with all-CG environments." John Lennon Foundation's Songwriting Contest (bottom, center): "Instead of having a human host the event, we shot this video and had it projected about 30-feet wide on the stage." Rapper MF Doom's "Mr. Clean" music video (bottom, left): "It's super low budget, shot on DV, mostly on greenscreen with digital backgrounds. We wanted to illustrate the lyrics, which are quite abstract, and make it work as a narrative. We had Doom playing several characters; the challenge was to obscure his identity in every shot he appears in."

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