Most of Gold's work includes some kind of twist that will catch you off guard, and that's hardly a coincidence. "Imagery, and photography in particular, is so easily consumed these days," he feels. "My whole goal is to hold people's attention to keep them looking at the page. I like there to be a reward for people who are willing to put in the extra effort."
When he's not doing advertising work for the likes of Game Shark and the Alexandra & Nicolay chocolate brand, he can often be found at Black Book, the pop culture magazine where he works on photography and design as a contributing creative director.
Despite his rising prominence in the photo field, Gold professes that he doesn't follow the work of other photographers. He started as a fine artist, and insists that's where his inspiration lies. He used to be a pen-and-ink pointillist but began to find the technique annoyingly time-consuming. Besides, he says, "The style I was using was almost photographic anyway. It seemed much easier to just take a picture. Of course, since then I've learned the beauty of abstractions and deconstruction." Also, fine art requires a willingness to create something in fixed form, and Gold doesn't like that notion. It's why his work is heavy on digital composites and computer effects. "I never liked committing to a brush stroke. Part of my process is never having to commit until the last minute. I like that - I keep thinking all the way through the project."
Gold's formal photography training began in 1992 when he transferred to New York's Parsons School of Design, from the University of Vermont - where he had been studying, of all things, philosophy and comparative religion. The move may have been prompted in part by Gold's constant search for new horizons. "In art school and in the business everyone tells you, 'You've got to pick your one thing.' Fuck that. I get so bored so easily with any one style." His work is multifaceted indeed. An early portrait piece shows a woman's upturned face being drenched with milk that appears to be pouring directly from the sky. That simple but arresting picture is very different from his composite work, which can feature up to 60 images in jumbled harmony. Gold does all his own post work out of his Tribeca studio. "Because I know what it takes from a retoucher's perspective, I know how to shoot it so it matches perfectly." A good example is his work for Tektronix printers, via Anderson-Lembke/San Francisco, featuring an ice water vendor in hell; Gold shot over 1,000 frames so that 20 to 30 elements could make up the final 'shot.'
But all the technique in the world cannot save a picture if the agency and the client are less than inspiring, Gold believes. "I'm interested in doing anything where the people involved, including the client, want to do good work," he says. "I'm willing to take pictures of snails if the people who are doing it are really interested in making it unusual and creative."
The Reel is Dead
A frame from the DVD version of the '98 AICP/MoMA showreel, produced at Crush Digital Video, N.Y.
A menu on the FCB Worldwide creative reel, produced at Zuma Digital.
A year and a half after its rollout, the digital video disc (DVD) has won over not just consumers but the advertising world as well. Although 3/4-inch tape is still the medium of choice for directors' reels, agency showreels, client approval reels and so on, DVD projects are becoming more and more common. DVDs for director's reels, agency showreels, point-of-sale displays in stores and direct-to-consumer promo pieces will be widespread by the end of the year.
Sales of stand-alone DVD players (those connected to TV sets) reached 2.7 million units last month, while DVD-ROM units (installed on laptop and desktop computers) stood at 30 million units, according to DVD.com, a prominent Internet DVD retailer.
Why is the rise of DVD inevitable? DVDs offer higher resolution than 3/4-inch tape. They are more portable and more stable as a medium. The DVD is interactive and nonlinear, with video, frames and text that can be searched, accessed and reprogrammed in seconds. The DVD offers crystal-clear, CD- quality, six-channel audio. DVDs, still in their infancy, are already less expensive than 3/4-inch tape, especially when pressed in larger numbers.
Major ad agencies around the U.S. are all experimenting with DVD, although none have committed officially. "The day one agency head of production looks around at all his broken 3/4-inch decks and says, 'We're going to DVD,' every other major agency will follow," says Ed Manning, a freelance visual effects supervisor who often works with effects/animation house RG/A, New York. Manning is helping RG/A produce its first DVD showreel. "The least expensive 3/4-inch tape deck is $3,500; a good DVD player is $400. And DVDs can be mailed in FedEx letter envelopes, not FedEx boxes." In addition, the cost of raw 3/4-inch tape stock, plus dubbing, far exceeds the $2-per-DVD cost, even with mastering and authoring thrown in, Manning says.
Many producers believe DVD resolution is good enough to use for approving dailies. The advantages of DVD are just beginning to be exploited. Digi-ROM, New York, has produced several DVDs for Lipman Richmond Green, New York, and fashion client Paul & Shark. "The ability to jump to any point in the disc; the use of interactive menus; having eight languages available simultaneously for a global company - this is just the tip of the iceberg," says Brian Brodeur, director of multimedia for Digi-ROM. The company is doing DVD tests for Clairol and JWT/New York.
"DVD is a great sales tool," says Robert Takata, editor at 411 Digital, the digital edition of LA 411, the commercial production directory. Last year, LA 411 produced a DVD that mailed inside its print directory, with one-minute clips from about 40 production/post houses. "This year we're hoping to put the whole 411 database on the DVD," Takata says.
Oddly enough, the DVD business seems to be ramping up faster on the East Coast than on the West Coast. Cinram/POP DVD Center, Santa Monica, probably the first major DVD installation, has an extensive DVD rate card, but no major DVD projects for outside clients. Meanwhile, Zuma Digital, New York, which began life as a design shop, is on the bleeding edge of DVD production. Zuma has already put out classy directors' reels for Tarsem and Alan White, through production house @radical media, New York. According to executive producer Cindy Banach, Zuma just finished a large project for FCB Worldwide, cramming 102 TV spots from around the world onto a single DVD. Viewers can search the disc by various criteria.
Zuma is working on technology to catalog all types of footage, burning in reel and frame numbers on the disc. This could become a major factor in the way stock footage houses and other collections of film and video footage operate. Banach