Wondercade - Neil Patrick Harris Case Study
Capturing Neil Patrick Harris' Tastes and Preferences through Still Life Photography and Cinemagraphs for the Wondercade Newsletter Launch
Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) is a renowned actor and entertainer, known for his versatile career in film, television, and theater. He sought to launch a newsletter, titled "Wondercade," during the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to connect with his followers on a more personal level. The newsletter's objective was to inform subscribers about his unique tastes, preferences, likes, and favored brands through his personal blog. To bring a visually captivating dimension to his content, he decided to incorporate still life photography and cinemagraphs, often referred to as "moving pictures" or "living pictures," on his website and within the newsletter.
- Client: Neil Patrick Harris (NPH), a multifaceted entertainer.
- Agency: The Inside Hook agency was responsible for managing the project and ensuring NPH's creative vision came to life, working closely with a leading commercial photographer.
- Other Photographers:
Driely Schwartz: Known for her distinctive style and skill in still life photography.
Jolene Lupo: Specialized in tintype photography, contributing a unique aesthetic to the project.
- Cinemagraphs: Creative partner Sherif Mokbel, a renowned commercial photographer, was brought in to create cinemagraphs that would complement the project's overall theme.
1. Multiple Locations and Photographers: Shooting at NPH's brownstone presented challenges due to its multiple levels. Furthermore, working with three photographers, each with their own style and lighting requirements, demanded meticulous planning.
2. Time Efficiency: As a busy actor and celebrity, NPH had limited availability for the shoot, making it crucial to maximize efficiency and stay on schedule.
3. Animating the Book: Capturing the flipping of book pages on camera was technically challenging.
4. Cocktail Cinemagraph: Maintaining complete stillness of the liquid and shaker to achieve a seamless loop.
5. Fireplace Animation: The fireplace didn't function as expected on the day of the shoot, requiring post-production animation.
6. Secret Hidden Room: A last-minute change of location and animation by NPH meant quick adjustments and lighting in a tight space with reflective glass.
Approach - Solutions to Challenges
1. Pre-Shoot Planning: Extensive communication between the creative team, NPH, and the agency involved discussing the creative brief, challenges, and backup plans. Ideas were prioritized based on feasibility within the given time frame.
2. Honesty and Transparency: The team maintained open and honest communication with NPH, highlighting which concepts could be executed efficiently and which ones might need to be deferred.
3. Three-Step Calls: Three calls were organized to facilitate the planning process. The first involved an initial brief review, the second focused on challenges and adjustments following discussions with the animator and commercial photographer, and the third centered on pre-planning and scheduling.
Challenges and Solutions Specific to Still Life Photography and Cinemagraphs
- Animating the Book: Different book sizes and testing page flips using a hair dryer were employed as backup solutions, combining the art of still life photography with the dynamic nature of cinemagraphs.
- Cocktail Cinemagraph: While NPH was determined to hold the shaker himself, a backup plan was in place. A rigged shaker on a stand with an arm and a drilled hole ensured a steady pour for a completely still loop. Both versions were captured by the commercial photographer to guarantee the perfect shot.
- Fireplace Animation: To solve the issue of the non-functional fireplace, a nanlight with a fireplace lighting flickering feature was used to light the area by the commercial photographer. The actual fire was added in post-production, enhancing the cinemagraph's appeal.
- Secret Hidden Room: In this tight space with reflective glass, the animator and commercial photographer collaborated to remove glare in post-production, ensuring the cinemagraph met NPH's vision while preserving the essence of still life photography.
The successful execution of these cinemagraphs and still life photography contributed to the visual appeal of the "Wondercade" newsletter and website, enriching NPH's connection with his audience by sharing his tastes, preferences, and favorite brands during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the unique challenges posed by the shoot, the project demonstrated the power of collaboration, creative problem-solving, and meticulous planning in achieving the client's objectives in the realm of advertising photography.
Danny Agnew - Creative Director
My team worked with Ylva on the creation of a series of cinemagraphs for the launch of Wondercade, a digital publication we created in collaboration with Neil Patrick Harris — I can say with no equivocation whatsoever that choosing to work with her was among our best decisions, and the result was nothing short of extraordinary. Ylva proved highly collaborative during the ideation phase, using her expertise to not only help our team refine and elevate our existing concepts, but also to bring new ideas to the table that we had not even considered. In the execution phase on set, Ylva and her team were an absolute pleasure to work with — exceedingly capable, efficient, patient and kind across the board. Working directly with big name talent is often a somewhat fraught process, but Ylva helped us to make it fun and ensure that the work we created was of the highest quality. In short, can’t say enough nice things about her or recommend her strongly enough. 10/10, would 100% work with again.
Mike Falco - Art Director
Working with Ylva Everall on our Wondercade campaign imagery was a truly exceptional experience. Ylva's ability to seamlessly blend traditional and contemporary styles, along with her meticulous attention to detail, brought our creative vision to life in ways we couldn't have imagined. Her dedication to perfection and relentless pursuit of excellence resulted in striking, authentic portrayals that added depth and resonance to our campaign. Ylva's passion, professionalism, and innate talent make her a true gem in the world of photography and directing, and I wholeheartedly recommend her to anyone seeking a visionary artist who can turn dreams into captivating visuals.