PORTLAND, Oregon, November 28, 2018 — Digital Trends, the world’s largest independent tech publisher, has partnered with animation studio HouseSpecial to produce its annual holiday gift guide, which tells a gift-giving story in elaborate miniature scenes.
The guide showcases gift ideas for tech lovers, hand-selected by the editorial staff at Digital Trends. The visual stories created for the gift guide use human-sized everyday objects and tiny character models. Leading the team is Gee Staughton, HouseSpecial’s director/art director, whose stop-motion work includes the awarding-winning Chipotle short, “Back to the Start,” and campaigns for Planters, Travel Portland, noosa, and Dish Network.
“This is our big showpiece for the year,” says Alana Wolfman, director of production at Digital Trends, “and we always want to come up with creative ways to tell the holiday story. We knew the juxtaposition between miniatures and life-sized gadgets would make this execution unique.”
The images are snapshots into an odd reality and feature rich, tiny handmade details. For example, miniature home chefs in a cooking class prepare dinner on sharp cheese knives, a naked man with tan lines gets a massage beside a pool made from a repurposed giftable book, and a street performer plays his guitar under the shadow of a looming city created with pink suitcases and black wireless speakers. Readers who look closely and investigate each scene will be rewarded with funny little “Easter eggs.”
“The challenge was to try to create a visually stimulating and interesting scene using all the gifts and props and to develop stories that echoed the themes,” Staughton said. “For example, in The DIY Freak, we created a tiny team of space engineers working on a moonbase, which was actually a leather tool belt. Their rocketship is a stud finder.”
The figures were designed in HO scale, or 1:87, which is the traditional scale for model railroads.
“Thinking outside the box and creatively using miniature pieces has been our forte for years. This project was especially fun because it challenged us to create visual narratives that are captured in a single frame — with the additional caveat that we could only use a very limited palette of elements and colors to create that world,” said Kirk Kelley, HouseSpecial creative director.
“The HouseSpecial creative team whipped up amazing concept sketches, and they were so on-point from the start,” says Wolfman. “It’s so valuable to partner with someone who has done this at the highest production level — from design to fabrication to the nuanced lighting and rigging required for the tabletop shoots, every detail makes such a difference and it was a huge factor in the success of this.”
The guide launches November 28. Gift ideas are tailored for the following categories of recipients, each with an individual feature:
- The Foodie
- The Traveler
- The Audio/Entertainment Junkie
- Parents & Grandparents
- The DIY Freak
“Partnering with Digital Trends was a journey in melding the mediums of handcrafted miniatures, practical products, and digital programming. The combined forces of our veteran stop-motion pros with Alana Wolfman and her team of creative producers resulted in playful, creatively fluent content that is wholly unique to Digital Trends’ previous Holiday Guides,” said Lourri Hammack, HouseSpecial’s executive producer and president. “We hope you enjoy our whimsical tableaux and start your holiday shopping!”
Formerly LAIKA/House, the commercial arm of LAIKA animation studios, HouseSpecial spun off the content studio in 2014 to continue their 35-year legacy as an independent studio. Their animation has defined brands like M&M’S, Planters, Apple, ESPN, Target, and Honey Nut Cheerios. Collaborators include Wieden+Kennedy, Barton F. Graf, TBWA\CHIAT\DAY, Leo Burnett, BBDO, and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
About Digital Trends
Digital Trends is a leading consumer technology publisher helping people navigate an increasingly digital world. With easy-to-understand product reviews, entertaining news, and videos, Digital Trends serves more than 30 million unique visitors each month. Digital Trends reaches 100 million tech influencers through their own media network, and its syndicate partners include Yahoo!, Oath, Flipboard, Cheddar, Amazon, FOX News, and more than 200 broadcast news stations. Digital Trends is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, with offices in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, Toronto and Chicago. For more information, visit www.digitaltrends.com.
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