One need only look at old films to know that this thing we call "timing" is constantly in flux. Comedians who had them rolling in the aisles a hundred years ago are met with indifference today. Trends in everything from fashion to high art owe their successes (and failures) to timing. Geoff Hounsell is one of those people who acts as a barometer for the culture's sense of timing. At Lost Planet, Hounsell blindsides his audience by predicting when their sense of anticipation will reach its climax. "It's about playing with the timing so that when someone is expecting something to happen, you change the rhythm," explains Hounsell who has cut some very well-received commercials, including "Extra Terrestrial" for Hummer. "With something like 'Extra Terrestrial,' you're cutting to the music, but then if you skip a beat or two, it stops the audience short and makes them pay attention."
Hounsell's music-driven spots alter expectations by interacting with the music in different ways. But ads like the Wes Anderson-directed "Living Room" and "Kitchen," for Ikea, toy with our expectations by making viewers wait long past a predictable cut. Both Ikea ads open in the midst of family arguments that get pretty heated. Just when voices are raised, the Ikea salesman interrupts to ask how the room feels. The camera pans back to reveal that people are arguing in store displays. "The Ikea spots are my sense of humor;" Hounsell says. "A flat, Fawlty Towers type of comedy. Both spots breaks this weird barrier to reveal the joke."
Hounsell at the Avid is like a DJ at the turntable. He sets the audience up by giving them something familiar and then throws them a curve. He tries to create ways to appreciate the same things people have seen and heard before by establishing new expectations, or, even better, breaking down expectations so the visuals just wash over you. "From A to B to C, these things don' t make sense - but somehow it all works." His style is extremely engaging, precisely because it doesn't seem to work. Viewers seek a pattern in his cuts, and just when one begins to emerge, it slips away and the search for a new pattern begins.