Olympus PEN's homage - or theft - of a great idea, courtesy of a wolf and a pig

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In no way, shape or form is this not awesome.

Yes, it's an ad. So what? Ads this creative and innovative are a pleasure to look at, no matter what they're selling. It's well executed, clever, meticulous and a joy of stop-motion photography.

But wait just a second ... hasn't this already been done? And just a few weeks earlier right here on YouTube, to boot?

As it turns out, yes ...

So what on first glance was a tremendous effort at artistic advertising for the Olympus PEN camera - a largely European campaign - has quickly turned into a debate on the line between "homage" and pick-pocketing.

The original video, a legitimate YouTube viral Leviathan with more than 2 million views as of this writing, was posted April 9, 2009, by Japanese artist Takeuchi Taijin. Called "Stop motion with wolf and pig," but apparently translated as "A wolf loves pork," Taijin describes the photographic and stop-motion process he used to create his nearly 4 minutes of glory:

At first I photographed stop motion animation. And I displayed the photographs in my room and photographed it again. Enjoy a connection with the world of the room and the world in the photograph.

The Olympus effort, the PEN Story, tells a similar tale of creation, with the interesting shoutout to "artists who inspired us":

This is the PEN Story in stop motion. We shot 60.000 pictures, developed 9.600 prints and shot over 1.800 pictures again. No post production! Thanks to all the stop motion artists who inspired us.

The Olympus crew then goes a step further after mounting pressure from comments on their YouTube posting to point out the inspiration inspired by Taijin's work:

Some of the comments we have read here suggest that we should mention the creator of "A wolf loves pork", Mr Takeuchi Taijin.

While we were looking for a way to realise a story describing "a journey through time" based on printed images, we were inspired by Mr Taijin's brilliant work. For this reason we intentionally quoted his work in our little movie while showing full respect to his original idea. We didnt mention his name because we did not want to do so without his prior agreement.

However after considering some of the comments posted here we have decided to add credits to him and his work, which we obviously absolutely love.

OK. So Taijin can expect his residuals check when, exactly?

It brings up the question, in an age where nearly any type of original content posted online is ripe for the picking, of how far is too far.

Taking a few graphs for a blog post. Grabbing a photo from a news story. Rewriting copy. All are common practice to various extents - though the Associated Press just settled a lawsuit that could address this in the future. But basically stealing an idea wholesale, re-worked with new content?

It's a brilliant execution for Olympus, but not such a pretty picture when you look a little deeper.

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1 Comment

This broke my heart when I saw the Olympus ad.

Agreed, they did an excellent job, but now everyone is going to think the kid ripped off Olympus because he is just one guy and Olympus is a multi-national organization.

The envelope, the swimming, it...is a higher quality imitation of the original.

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    This page contains a single entry by Craig Newman published on July 14, 2009 11:04 AM.

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