Dancing on the Ceiling at Adobe MAX
Each autumn, Create Magazine participates in Adobe MAX with a booth in the conference’s Community Pavilion. Our mission for the conference? It’s kind of the same as our magazine’s mission: to inspire and entertain our audience of very creative people. But we’re also there to have fun and play a little bit (or a lot). In recent years, we’ve invited MAX attendees to create animations with Character Animator and let them contribute to a crowd-sourced 3D mural. This year, we wanted to turn things on their head—with a fool-the-eye photo booth.
All the world loves a selfie. When we started our MAX planning last summer, we quickly landed on the idea of creating a wacky photo booth. A primary inspiration came from the golden age of Hollywood musicals—specifically, Fred Astaire’s “You’re All the World to Me” dance sequence in the classic 1951 film Royal Wedding.
We decided to build an upside-down room, photograph people in it, and give them a printed souvenir photo (as well as the digital file).
DESIGNING AN ALTERNATIVE REALITY
Of course, Fred Astaire makes dancing on the ceiling look a lot easier than it actually is! Our first challenge was designing the upside-down room. And that challenge fell largely to Adobe senior art director Eric Van Huystee and creative director Kashka Pregowska-Czerw.
Eric has an extensive background in theatrical set design, so from the outset, he was designing with an eye toward camera placement and how people would interact with the space.
Another big challenge was that Eric and the Create team were designing this room in the San Francisco Bay Area (creating specification documents in Adobe Illustrator CC and mockups in Adobe Photoshop CC), while the room was being fabricated onsite in San Diego by builders from Freeman, an events company. They did a fantastic job.
“I was a little bit nervous,” says Eric, “but when I got there it looked almost identical to my design—it looked great.”
ROTATING 180 DEGREES
Because we wanted to give attendees both a printed souvenir photo and a digital file to keep, we also had to design a semi-automated photographic workflow that would allow us to process photos quickly.
Our DSLR camera was tethered directly to a Mac laptop. Once the photographer shot the picture, we used Adobe Bridge to trigger a short series of Photoshop actions that rotated the image 180 degrees, added a black border, and sent the adjusted image to a shared Creative Cloud folder. From there, the digital image could be printed at the booth and, later, collected by the attendee.
We had four people staffing the booth at all times—Create’s content director, Terri Stone; its managing editor, Charles Purdy; Eric Van Huystee, and Adobe senior designer Hajdeja Ehline. One person greeted attendees, one shot photos, one oversaw photo processing, and one ran the printer (we frequently changed roles to keep things interesting).
With everything in place, the magic happened when each attendee (or group of attendees) came into our space! They created poses and jumps that turned a simple white box into an experiment in defying the laws of physics.
Create’s Terri Stone says, “To me, the best thing about this year’s Create booth was its simplicity: build a room with elements rotated 180 degrees from the norm, add people, and flip the photograph for a result that tickles our sense of the absurd. It was a perfect platform for attendees to exercise their creativity.”
How will we top it at next year’s Adobe MAX in Las Vegas? Stay tuned to find out!