Sony DIME Press Event – Foam City, Miami

Sony DIME in Miami

Last weekend, Sony DIME (Digital Imaging Europe) held a press event in Miami, Florida in conjunction with the evolution of its popular like.no.other advertising campaign. Specifically, Sony wanted to build on the scale and stature presented in the iconic Bravia commercials, which, according to Sony, display colour like.no.other.

2005

Sony sent 250,000 bouncy balls down the streets of San Francisco:

2006

Sony exploded 70,000 liters of paint in Glasgow:

2007

Sony unleashed 2.5 tons of Play-Doh bunnies on New York:

2008

So, how is Sony planning to up the ante of its like.no.other experience in 2008?

lots.of.bubbles

The concept started about 10 weeks ago. The goal? Create a relevant story for 3 different, but similar, audiences. With the Cybershot, Handycam and Alpha line, Sony wanted to show consumers how to create images like.no.other.

Foam City

To make Foam City (that’s really what they call it) happen in downtown Miami, Sony consulted a bubble expert (again, no joke) and then built the world’s largest foam-making machine. The foam machine produces 2,000,000 liters of foam every 60 seconds. At that rate, it could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in 24 seconds.

After building the foam machine and getting clearance from Miami and other governmental authorities (including FDA certification), Sony set out to fill downtown Miami with foam over the course of a 7-day shoot. It was a massive shoot, which requires a mass of people to bring it all together. Here’s a brief rundown of the people involved:

  • 1 documentary filmmaker
  • 1 pro photographer
  • 150 person crew
  • 200 Miami citizens with Sony cameras recording their Foam City experiences
  • 20 journalists (including PB)

Sony expects to end up with about 16 hours of film for a 90 second commercial.

As noted in the Sony A350 First Impressions Review, I had the opporunity to spend some time on the set with the bubbles and the A350. The subjects in the shoot were taking their own photos and video with a variety of new products from the Alpha, Cybershot and Handycam lines (and, no, there were no pre-production A900s floating about).

The great thing about putting average citizens in the middle of the foam was the natural reactions produced from just being there. Bubbles and foam just make you smile. As we were on the set, there were several people just walking by who stopped flat in their tracks when they saw the bubbles. After a dumbfounded moment or two, the onlookers pulled out cameras and started doing what everyone else on the set was doing – taking photos of people taking photos of bubbles and foam.

Every few minutes a gust of wind would blow down the street and really stir up the foam, which brought on laughs, oohs and aahs, and sometimes a flurry of crew members to cover up equipment.

I’m also interested to see how the contrast issues shake out. Shooting foam is tough. If you’ve ever shot snow, then you know what I mean. Cameras see 18% gray, so capturing the fine gradations and lines within the bubbles and foam is a tough task. Post-processing is going to be a bear of a project in its own right. Again, I’m very anxious to see the final results.

The Cybershot Dinner

After leaving the bubbles and foam behind, we headed out to a Cybershot dinner where we had the opportunity to test out the new Sony Cybershot DSC-W170 point and shoot camera. The headline feature for the W170 is the new Smile Shutter setting, which detects smiles on your subjects and operates the shutter automatically.

Frankly, this feature sounded very gimmicky to me; however, I’m not the target audience. The W170 will be attractive to casual shooters who are frustrated with missing smiles on their subjects. I can see moms and dads with small children being attracted to this feature. Nothing is more frustrating than missing little Billy or Sarah’s smile in a pose on their birthday or other memorable childhood moment.

To activate the Smile Shot function, you simply turn the dial to the smiley face icon and press the shutter button. When you subject smiles, the camera snaps the shot. However, if the camera can’t detect a face (like in the above photo where one girl has a camera in front of her face), you may not always get what you want.

I learned a couple of interesting facts about the development of of the Smile Shot function at dinner. Sony took literally thousands of photos of people’s smiles (and just the smiles), put the images into a database and somehow developed a program that compares the smiles in the database to the subject you are shooting. Based on this comparison, the W170 decides if the subject’s smile is close enough to the database of smiles and, if there’s a match, the shutter releases and you capture an image of your subject smiling.

I will have to admit that the W170 did a very good job of detecting and capturing smiles. The phrase that we kept hearing over and over was “Ok, don’t smile, I want to see if it works.” It works.

Again, casual shooters who aren’t really “into” photography will most likely be the ones who appreciate this feature. I simply cannot give that much control to the camera (I feel guilty even putting my camera in Program mode).

Products

Finally, here’s the rundown of the new creatures in Sony’s digital camera line-up with links to Photography Bay’s coverage of each:

DSLRs

Point & Shoot Cameras

Conclusion

Sony is going to great lengths to continue its iconic like.no.other campaign. This is clearly the strongest lineup Sony has ever brought to the table. With the addition of the 24 megapixel flagship Sony A900, which was promised at PMA to arrive later this year, Sony will have all of its bases covered. It will be interesting to see how the numbers shake out at the end of 2008. Sony carries a commanding market presence in the point & shoot realm. Will Sony cut deep into Nikon and Canon’s market share soon? I think the A300 and A350 will be very attractive to new DSLR shoppers; however, only time will tell if Sony’s DSLRs can prove themselves in a crowded market to truly shine (and sell) like.no.other.

Heading Home

A special thanks to Jonny and Ruth for all their hard work in making the DIME Press Event happen and helping make PB a part of it . . . I hope the chicken made it safely back across the pond. ;)

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Comments

  1. says

    Great stuff. That Smile Shot function does sound gimmecky but has an obvious target market in parents and perhaps kids or just plain party-shooters. I’d like to try that feature actually.

    Oh and I can’t wait to see the ad either. Like you say, shooting foam is *tough*

  2. says

    We at BSTE.co.uk were the company tasked with designing and building the foam machines and supplying the team to turn the idea into reality. The shoot was long and tiring, 7 days starting at 7am and finishing a 1am the following day. We all have wet blistered feet! but the end results were stunning. The tidal wave shot is breathtaking!

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  1. [...] reading reports now and it looks like they had a successful event during the shooting. Photography Bay has a great report, detialign the fact they had over 200 locals with cameras taking shots during [...]