Second-hand made convenient

How buying pre-owned should work in the social media era.

Jemma

Jemma is a digital platform for collecting, showcasing, selling and buying pre-owned items, from clothes to Pokémon cards.

Buying second-hand as a sustainable solution to more expensive and environmentally straining habits is booming. Over the next five years, a BCG study suggests, the sector will swell, growing by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% to 20%. Even as the field advances rapidly, a large portion of Finnish pre-owned buying and selling are done on clearly outdated, cumbersome and inefficient online platforms. Jemma aims to change this by providing enthusiasts and beginners alike with an extremely intuitive application that bears more resemblance to your favorite social media platform than a typical internet auction market.

We were delighted to be given the opportunity to work with Jemma to produce a concept video that compliments their image through a dynamic combination of live-action footage, visual effects and animated spots. With limited run-time, the central issue was to find a balance between an engaging and interesting brand video, while still staying informative and allowing the unique features Jemma offers to hold the spotlight and be remembered. We tackled this by segmenting the video based on important features and distinguishing elements of the platform, still maintaining a continuous flow utilizing both seamless transitions between the real and animated worlds as well as a dangerously groovy and upbeat Salsa-tune in the background.

The aesthetics are largely determined by our attempt to integrate the real world footage and animated spots together as a complete whole.

This is achieved using seamless transitions, animation 3D tracked to exist in the real world and largely functional use of animated spots that often showcase features of the real mobile applications. However, perhaps the most visually important aspect of the video is the introductory scene, where one sees a plethora of different everyday items falling through the frame in a chaotic, yet serene slow-motion sequence. This scene illustrates the central dilemma of dust-collecting objects you can’t be bothered to list on traditional and tiresome marketplaces–a common issue solved by Jemma.

For this result, the items were first lowered through the frame using an extremely primitive combination of fishing line and a X to hold it. This was filmed in 120fps, allowing us to slow the footage down to 20% of its original speed to reach a frame rate of 24fps. In post, these items were rotoscoped, i.e. cut off from the background, and placed on top of a still-image of the background room, inserting the items in and out of the sequence based on the rhythm of the background track. Then, both the items and the background still were linked to a controlling object, allowing us to pan through and zoom in on the shot as the items are falling. Finally, the 3D model of a phone is animated to fall into the frame as just another item, utilizing some motion blur and noise added in post to sell the realism in the effect.

This screenshot from the video illustrates a seamless transition and how motion blur added to the artificial elements improves its credibility.

The use of seamless transitions is most apparent where we travel from shot footage to animation, usually introduced by the 3D model of a phone appearing in the shot, soon followed by a burst of colour filling in the background. In these scenes, the interface and functionality of Jemma is explored in an environment where focus is easily drawn to the phone model. Indeed, the settings are almost similar to what you might see in product photography taken of the phone, highlighting the Jemma application as an integral feature of the phone. The separation of the phone from the background is emphasized by a contrasting flare of colour shining behind the phone model. The seamless feel of these transitions relies heavily on the realistic motion blur added to the phone as well as its bungee-like velocity when flying into the shot.

Two best examples of animation 3D tracked in the real world appear at 00:24 and 00:39. First, the room acting as a background for most of the filmed material is suddenly filled with price-tags for different items, almost emulating the style especially Nordic people have grown accustomed to in IKEA-magazines. This connection is by design, as unlike many of its competitors, Jemma prides itself on not only a second-hand fashion platform and instead focusing on the pre-owned market as a whole; what better way to illustrate this than a direct allusion to the style popularized by one of our largest furniture & accessory companies. This effect is accomplished by using a still-image of the room as a background, placing the price-tags different lengths away from the camera and then panning through them while simultaneously zooming in the background still. The illusion is further sold by adding a degree of blur to the price-tags depending on the distance from camera, simulating the depth of field you would get filming items in the real world. Finally, a slight shake is added to the position and orientation of the 3D camera to simulate footage that was recorded handheld.

Second, when explaining the ease with which sending and receiving items bought or loaned from Jemma works, an example package is slid into the frame, transitions to another location, and is taken by the receiver. Here, the phrases “Vaivaton maksaminen → Effortless payment” and “Turvallinen postitus → Safe mailing” are tracked on the package to emphasize the spoken message. This is done using a software called Mocha, which is a planar tracker, allowing it to track such a simple surface with ease. Even the slightest shakes of the package when placed in or taken out of the frame are recognized by the track, adding to the realism of the visual effects and almost making the text look as if it was printed on the package.

This is a view of the Mocha tracking tool. The square front-side of the package has been determined as the plane to track here.

Music accentuates the mood of the video as uplifting, energetic and easy-going. It was therefore clear from the start that the background tune would have to be something that one could dance to. 

While the tune borrowed from traditional salsa harmonies and mood, much of the rhythmic feel comes from the percussive elements that are distinctively closer to today’s hip hop & trap soundscape. Modern trap influence can be heard from the ⅛ and 1/16 hi hat rolls and their sound, which is close to the legendary 808 drum machine sounds, as well as the impactful rim-type snare sound, short and punchy kick and a deep, hard-hitting bass. The combination of salsa-esque harmonic elements and trappy drums creates a fresh, memorable and most importantly playful and joyous feel. The music is therefore able to grab the viewer’s attention and move them seamlessly through the video.

The image above shows the different bands, which react to changes in loudness in the corresponding frequency ranges in vocal track to compress the background tune. The separation of compression to multiple bands allows for the clear consonants to pop out, as well as the fundamental tones of vocal to carve out its place.

The task of balancing a full, interesting and energetic background tune with a voice-over without losing its energy is always a tug-of-war between intelligibility and emotional impact. In order to preserve the loudness needed to make the drums pop and the bass impact a combination of complex, multiband side-chaining between the vocal and the background tune is used.

To add subtle depth and space to the vocal, a bus track with a multi-voice effect followed by a short-tail reverb is added at a very low volume.

In the real world, we are always in an environment where our voice echoes from different surfaces and resonates with objects. In the digital world with an unnaturally dry vocal recording, these small imperfections and subtleties that create realism have to be added in post-production. In this track, much of these imperfections and a sense of space is created using a bus track through which the vocal track is driven through at a low volume. The bus track consists of a multi-voice, choral effect and a small space reverb at 100% wet. The parallel effect bus and a clear, echoless vocal works to both offer a clear, advertisement-esque sound but with a subtle, realistic sound environment.

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