When it comes to framing of visual language – the simpler it is, the more effective the surrounding narrative can be.
I found how visuals were framed to great effect back in 1994 when, one Friday night, BBC Two aired Katsuhiro Otomo’s ‘Akira’. One sequence was particularly inspiring – the bike scene.
An explosive mixture of pace, impact, and pitch-perfect animation (often hand drawn at 24 frames-per-second unlike Disney’s uniform 12fps, detail lovers!). At age 15, I was mesmerised by the series of shapes – articulating the electrifying pace, tightening the drama, and drawing the viewer right into the action – at certain points, the action feels like it’s coming right at you.
It’s an arresting piece of cinema, and at its core, it’s a fascinating execution of design.
When deconstruct graphically, multiple compositions are revealed – Leading Lines, Golden Ratio, Symmetry, V & C-Shape, Circular, Dutch Angle, Repetition, Extreme Close Ups…
Each one designed to pull us right into the art direction to the experience speed, impact and energy of the scene. It’s quite an achievement, and it is so well designed that it articulates the entire scene, almost unnoticeably beneath the concept of the anti-hero friends.
Why is this still relevant in 2023?
Framing allows visual communications to flex. An idea needs to represent its brand across multiple formats, so with foresight we create brand communications to fit the entire marketing funnel – key to adding value to the brand experience, where at every step where the audience expects to find it.
In its simplest form, we create a canvas that helps articulate narrative and provides an opportunity to engage; and like Akira – some executions are framed so well that they can be an unnoticeable pillar of communication.
Just recently, AMV BBDO created a ’I Need a Zero’ for Guinness; I thought it was fantastically simple… and very well framed by focusing cinematically on our heroic pints, and as a concept by using Bonnie Langford’s 1984 track ‘I Need a Hero’ (one letter changed… great stuff). The compositions used to set the scene are familiar, but aim for a different tone:
It’s brilliantly fun and catchy – each scene is a literal chorus of humour, positioning the hero that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And the central insight of that heroic wingman allowing you to soberly remember your own St. Patrick’s Day whilst still being able to join in is a winner. Is it any wonder it lends itself to a cinematic framing?
‘Akira’, though, has since been labelled a masterpiece by some. Most recently Jordan Peele pays homage in ’Nope’ as he explores the search for the perfect shot, replicating Kaneda’s legendary skid. It’s worth a look – the whole sequence is only about four minutes long and right at the beginning. It’s on Netflix right now, both in English and Japanese (recommended!).