In this TED talk [18:08"], Ed Ulbrich, the digital-effects guru from Digital Domain, explains the Oscar-winning technology that allowed his team to digitally create the older versions of Brad Pitt's face for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
Incidentally, I loved Brad Pitt's performance, especially the hour or so in the movie when it was embedded in the animated head. Once you view the talk and see how it was created, you will want to go see the movie. Promise.
This video is an amazing example of tenacity, innovation, and problem solving. The type of execution that led to the final product made me think about the difference between traditional marketing communications and where marketing communications needs to be next.
The old ways would mean the option of applying heavier makeup - let's rewrite the brochure, sell sheet, press release. The new ways are about taking out what is in excess, just like Michelangelo did with a block of marble - agility and expressiveness of content are essential. The new ways are also about understanding what expression to apply when - this system can recreate facial images at a resolution of 200,000 pixels.
Just like Digital Domain did, in order to create an action plan for your business, you need to:
(1.) Admit you have a problem
Having a methodology is a great first step. Especially if you're trying to break new ground. It will be tested by reality. As Ulbrich says, it's not just the special effects or the technology, it's how they contribute to serving your business. You need to believe in your vision to persist to the final product.
(2.) Break the problem down
It's easier to solve a problem when you can break it down into manageable steps. At the same time, all of these steps need to belong to a system for the final product to be coherent, to work towards your objectives.
(3.) Identify what's between the markers
UIbrich talks about needing the information that was between the markers. To do that, he completely moved away from the technology of the day. What's between the markers are the subtleties and nuances of the conversation. All of the expressions, exchanges, and experiences the status quo is not satisfying anymore.
(4.) Walk away from standards
The fact that where we are today was invented should be an incentive to step back and think about what other ways there are to solve your problem. Focus on the problem to solve, and not on the tools and you may be surprised on what you can find or invent. You may look at what other industries are doing to solve a problem similar to yours.
(5.) Use a technology stew
Content marketing is much closer to public relations today, for example. The idea is to create your own proprietary platform on which to integrate all the various pieces so that they work together. Could there be a marketing action coding system (M.A.C.S.) that activates your business? Technology also means leveraging your data points smartly.
(6.) Sandblast the edges
Keep testing under real life conditions. Ulbrich states that one thing the technology could not get was the intent of the actor.
It took 155 people two years to complete the project. This is something to think about when you're setting objectives to plan strategies around for your business. What's your digital domain answer? What are the components of your action plan? How will you go about gathering the information that is between the markers?