Friday, April 29, 2011

Media Innovation and Over-kill

One thing I've noticed in media and advertising is the over-use of a certain innovative technology well beyond its initial appeal. This can go on for years where a nifty little trick is used in the movies or television and while it is intriguing at first, it is often repeated ad-nauseum. Sometimes the new technique becomes the sole focus of an advertisement.

Let me offer an example. Someone once devised a method to film a human figure and apply some graphics technology to alter the mouth and lips to mimic almost any speech that was played as a sound-track to the film. I think it first appeared in the film, "Look Who's Talking," but I never saw the film (only brief snippets) and it could be that this technique had been used even earlier. The movie featured a baby appearing to speak the lines of an adult. I understand it was very popular when it was released--now more than twenty years ago!

Since then we've seen too many derivatives of that cinematographic maneuver. Animals appeared to talk in the movie, "Babe" and many other movies and eventually a series of advertisements for a financial brokerage launched that showed babies conducting financial affairs under the vocal guise of some adult. It's all been a bit too much.

Maybe financial service firms share a common ad agency because there's another film-making trick going around that's getting old fast. The ad features testimonials from individuals who purchase or need to purchase financial services and are considering this particular firm. The people speaking look almost real but their faces are somewhat animated with regard to skin tone and hair highlights. You're looking at an animation but it's clear that the footage you're viewing has been made from video of a real person. But again, it's too much. This company appears to be going on 4-5 years with little more to offer than a neat video sleight-of-hand. Certainly the substance of what the actors are saying hasn't changed much in that time nor the services offered by the company.

I suppose you could make the same criticism of some musicians who discover a particular sound effect or combination of chords and, lacking any real music-composition talent, choose to release song-after-song featuring little more than their new-found trick.

Still someone, somewhere is entertained by these things and they either don't mind the repetition or don't remember it from one occurrence to another.

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