"Shake It" Viral Spot Smartly Touts New Windows 7 Feature

Winning best online/viral video in Studio’s Top Spots Fest was director Marty Martin’s “Shake It” spot for Microsoft Windows 7. Part of a series of spots for an online campaign, the aim of “Shake It” was to explain a feature of the Windows 7 Aero environment – if you click and hold on a window and then shake your mouse, the windows you’re not dragging all fall off the screen – with a sense of humor, but clearly and simply. Judge Charlie Tercek, creative director at Cereal, part of the Ascent Media Group, lauded its simple storytelling and the understated physical performance of the lead actor. “Great use of special effects, too,” he said. “The director wisely resisted any urge to over-do anything.” It was shot with the Canon 5D Mark II and edited in Final Cut Pro with compositing done in After Effects CS4.

The video is engaging and sends a message in just 30 seconds, but Martin says the client was made a little uncomfortable by how much it abstracted the idea of a user interface, using a nearly empty football field as a metaphor for a computer screen. "They were really hesitant to go out with that ad," he recalls. "They were worried people wouldn't understand the spot. We had storyboarded everything, and I think the legal department came and said, 'Football players don't stand on the field like that!' But it was about illustrating something in a humorous way."
The shoot took place with actors playing a coach and uniformed football players, but the coach was shot separately – even the team member who walks past him at the beginning of the spot was rotoscoped into the picture later. (“We just couldn’t get the timing right” on set, Martin says.) The football player who gets “shaken” was shot on location against a green screen, then composited into the football field on set, just to make sure all the different components were working together during production.

Partly because the whole piece is, essentially, a composited visual-effects shot, it feels appropriate for an ad touting a computer’s operating system. “We deliberately colored everything so that it had a hyper-realistic feel, almost like a videogame,” Martin explains. “I don’t know whether many people picked up on that.” Sound effects for the piece were recorded in Martin’s back yard one night when no one else was around.

When it came time for the spot to launch online, Martin accidentally jumped the gun. “They didn’t tell me they were pushing the date back by a month,” he says. “I accidentally released them at midnight of the original day of release and by the next day it had 80,000 hits. I kind of flipped, because I had never had anything go viral. We got reviews that said, ‘Microsoft understands who their consumer is. They’re not treating us like we’re stupid!’ But it was a lot of work pushing them to accept that vision.”

To see more from Marty Martin, visit www.themartymartin.com.