Francois Vogel, Paranoid Projects @ Tool

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Francois Vogel makes Play-Doh out of pictures. The French-born director, repped out of Paranoid Projects @ Tool and Paris' Entropie Films, warps moving images into visually hypnotic dazzlers, most notably for Goodby and its commercials art gallery known as the HP campaign. In the "You" spot he illustrated the idea of endless picture-taking possibilities via a stunning, multi-paneled moving mosaic. "I like to play with perspective," the 33-year-old director notes of his approach. "What you see in photos or movies is never the reality, so I like to play with the way you look at things." On his latest series for the client, including a spot in which he himself stars, he pulls pictures literally out of thin air. "The first spot said that digital photography is a revolution and anything could be a picture," he explains. "The second one is a continuation of real photography, saying we can print those images as well." Given expansive scope by the agency, "I went for a walk singing the song the agency gave, 'Picture Book,' by the Kinks, I started thinking about touching photos, printing. I put a camera on a tripod, used cardboard and started playing with empty frames. I put what I shot in the computer and used After Effects to make stills and animate the photos to the frame. That test is exactly what you see in the scene where I'm making self-portraits." Morphing film represents a natural progression for the former art student, who's had an ongoing fascination with pinhole cameras and the malleability they lend to images. "In a regular camera, the negative is always flat, in front of the lens. With pinhole photography you can do anything you want with the negative. You can make it twisted like a cylinder or a cone, or scratch it. So if I have an idea about a subject, something to shoot in a still camera, I'll build the machine to shoot it. It's really connected to the way 3D software works too," he continues. "There's no optical device in pinhole photography and also in 3D software, so the way the perspective works is exactly the same." After art school, Vogel assisted a video artist before working in effects at French post powerhouse Mikros. There, he first met the Poiraud Brothers, who saw some of Vogel's short films, which led to his own signing as a director at Entropie. As adept with a real camera as he is with a virtual one, he says "for me, there are two shootings, the live action and the shooting you're doing in post, which are completely different." Recently, the director broadened his kaleidoscope of spots to Cingular, for BBDO/N.Y. and upcoming commercials for Winterfresh Gum, out of BBDO/Chicago, which fortunately, like HP, have allowed him considerable artistic leeway. "Being honest" is most important, he says. "I'm trying to choose jobs because I really want to do them because if you don't really want to do something, you don't do it well."
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