Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Cine & Video: Francois Vogel
All creators present their images through personalized filters, but Parisian director François Vogel's framing is square in the middle of his work. Vogel is best known for his nearly transcendent series of Hewlett-Packard commercials, created for San Francisco ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Santa Monica's Tool of North America. Just like the bizarre crustacean smackdown of his short film Les Crabes, those HP spots feature individuals, beautifully shot, then overlaid with prominent, boxed framing. Vogel, who as a teen began using his parent's Super 8 camera to do frame-by-frame animation, points to his work's roots as the source of this four-sided fixation. "Maybe I started with rectangles because I was working with very bad video cameras and reducing the size of the image gave me higher quality," he says. "Also I have a problem as a director pretending what I shoot is real... I like rectangles because you know what you see is not reality." Several of his shorts are "about distortions," he explains, "but they have one thing in common: something is happening between the camera and the subject." Vogel still experiments with analog gear such as Super 8, shooting his footage on video after creating optical distortions to complement his 2-D and 3-D computer skills. His commercial "Picture Book," featuring the catchy Kinks song of the same name, has most recently caught attention. For HP's digital photography campaign, Vogel used the idea of the picture book brilliantly. "I did a test with After Effects where I framed my face and made self-portraits while singing the song," Vogel says. And of the result: "There is no photography process; it is all about live action shooting and post-production." Balancing his ongoing success in advertising in the States, Vogel focuses on more humble work at home. "My creative experience in France is about no-budget short films and my creative experience in the US is all about big-budget commercials. How can I compare!" Fortunately Vogel has a new series of enchanting shorts lined up for production back in France -- once he finishes a spot for Cingular, that is.
Words: Sandy HunterPhoto: Constant Anee