Jacquemus is hardly a stranger to the art of the internet stunt, with everything from his runway shows to pop-up stores delivering the kind of virality that fashion people love to chase.
On Wednesday, the brand posted an 8-second Instagram clip of what appeared to be its Bambino bags cruising the streets of Paris. At first glance, many users weren't sure if it was AI, CGI, or the real thing.
But the bags-on-wheels was in fact the work of Ian Padgham, a Bordeaux-based 3D artist from California who started his company Origiful in 2013 making Vines and social videos after stints at SFMOMA and Twitter.
Since then he's made about 2000 short films and worked with all kinds of brands all over the world. After the Jacquemus video went viral, PAPER reached out to the artist to discuss how the project came to be.
How did you get started doing this?
My first viral video was in 2007 when I was the top most-viewed video on YouTube for a speed drawing I did. At the time it felt like national news but I think the video only had about 400k views — an interesting example of how much going "viral" has changed. I had several videos that were so popular that it pushed me to start my company Origiful which produces poetic, artistic and surreal clips that rarely last more than 20 seconds. For 10+ years I've just been on my own, no employees, making my artsy videos and doing brand partnerships.
Had you done projects like this for fashion brands before?
I've actually worked in fashion since the very beginning. My first job out of college was teaching English in Paris but to make extra money I got a side job dressing supermodels for runway shows at the Louvre and around town. They needed someone tall who could get the dresses over the heads of the models. Since then I've done videos for Fashion Weeks in various towns. I did the Met Gala as Vogue's special artist guest a couple of times. It's definitely a funny industry as an outside artist. On the one hand there are lots of job opportunities but on the other hand everything needs to have been done yesterday.
Were you familiar with the Jacquemus brand prior to their team reaching out?
No, I did not know Jacquemus. The story of my career has been never knowing any of the famous people around me. At the Met Gala I thought Anna Kendirck was a Vogue employee and I asked her to help me to film an animation. She was too nice to say anything and set up a bunch of gear. It wasn't until a real Vogue employee saw what was happening that they saved her.
I rejected an offer to make songs for a singer recently until I realized I had been listening to her music on repeat for a month. I'm just a little too much in my own world and oblivious to what's cool. In my defense, I'm a 40 year-old with two small kids living in a foreign country, but still. But maybe that's why brands come to me? It's probably good occasionally to have someone who isn't looking to do what they think you want. I have my own style and ideas and maybe that's refreshing for brands that want to change things up.
What was the brief the Jacquemus team proposed and the idea behind it?
My briefs are usually pretty open-ended and brands usually just ask me to do my own thing. I often push to have carte-blanche on the creative and if brands already know what they are trying to do or have a set idea I recommend they go the agency route instead. In this case, I had planned on using this clip for a personal project since I really loved the lighting and movement. When they asked for a video involving their bag I modeled it in 3D and used it in this footage since I didn't have time to go up to Paris. They initially said it didn't fit with what they had been hoping for but I pushed back, promising it would be cool. Luckily, they changed their minds!
Can you describe the technical process that went into creating this 3D video?
The technical process is in three steps. First, you have to film in a certain way that is going to allow you to track the footage as a 3D space and insert the elements. Then you have to make any 3D elements (like the bags) and integrate them into the footage while matching the lighting, shadows, reflections and physical space as closely as possible. Finally, you need to spend hours retouching each detail, meticulously cutting out problems that would alert the viewer to the fact that something is wrong. The reason these videos do so well is because probably half of the people who see them either think it's real or can't tell and that's what drives engagement.
What was it like to see this video go viral, particularly in the fashion space?
It was a weird experience. I had made this video about a week prior but then never heard back. I assumed they had rejected the video and I was going to start redoing it for my own idea as I had originally planned until I started receiving messages from friends asking if I had made the clip. Usually I am nervous about the launch of a post but in this case I was along for the ride like everyone else! Glad to see it worked out.
Photo courtesy of Ian Padgham/ Origiful
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