If you live in Canada you know what a cultural icon Canadian Tire is. As an extension of that, they’re spring catalogue was a fixture in every Canadian home for decades. However, times change, and so too must our distribution channels. It was time to take the paper catalogue online and into the 21st century. In doing so, there were also opportunities to make it something more, something different, something interactive. We worked with Tribal DDB to bring this new vision to life. Allowing consumers to interact with the products right on their screen.
The first challenge came from the technical side. No body wanted to go the route of CG effects. These are real products, in real people’s homes. We needed it to feel authentic and lived in. This doesn’t mean we didn’t utilize any trickery, but we kept things, shall we say, low-fi. These simple techniques allowed us to show each aspect of the products without being time consuming or requiring elaborate rigs.
Keeping with the spirit of efficiency, we utilized a larger studio space that could accommodate 3 separate kitchen sets. We set each of them up in a triangle pattern, with our camera being the fulcrum point. We could then easily shoot scene 1 in kitchen 1, then pivot the camera to the next kitchen with minimal adjustments required. This kept the set flowing and allowed us to capture a 3 in one day.
The other ideas for the catalogue was to show various patio products, and how a single family could interact with each, throughout a changing day. This required us to have one central set, with 4 distinct looks: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Late evening. Seems simple enough, however, the end desire was to have each section seamlessly loop while viewers stayed on the page. This required a great deal of pre-planning and on set attention to detail to ensure we had perfect points in each action, to loop the scenes.
The second challenge came with how to best integrate all of these filmed elements into the interactive catalogue. We worked directly with Tribal’s web dev team to come up with a workable solution that was not only intuitive, but also managed to keep load times/file size to a minimum. The solution we came up with for the products was to utilize image sequences. Each set would be captured as a still, we would then capture each product “doing it’s thing” as a filmed sequence. We then isolated each product, cropping in tightly to remove any additional background imagery, and create a PNG image sequence. We then gave both the still image background plate & PNG sequences to the dev team. In HTML, they layered the PNG sequences over top of the still image back plate. What that resulted in was very small file sizes for each product, that would load quietly in the background, and only run through the image sequence upon rollover. Thus making this an extremely smooth, and efficient viewing experience that didn’t require any additional plug-ins (flash) or require the viewer to play a movie. It all just worked seamlessly.