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Gentleman Scholar Goes All Out for Qatar


Gentleman Scholar was recently called on to create an elegant ad campaign for Qatar Foundation’s QF Radio. The L.A.-based commercial production studio worked with ad agency TBWA\Qatar, and also a marketing team assembled by the First Lady of Qatar who, as chairperson of the foundation, was actively involved in evaluating and approving the work during various stages of the creative and production process.

The spot “Anthem” combines motion control, and a stirring visual representation of radio. For Gentleman Scholar directors William Campbell and Will Johnson, this was their first motion-control project, meshing a tapestry of Qatar’s national icons – including falconry, Arabian horses and dhows – along with features from the radio station’s music, sports and entertainment programming, as well as a tumbling bundle of wires that serve as a physical manifestation of sound waves.

In postproduction, the studio modified Houdini in such a way as to allow the software to drive the animation of the wires, manipulating the wobbling stream so that it moved with the audio.

“Because this was their first visual spot, QF Radio was concerned with how we would pull off the visual representation of audio,” said Johnson. “Gentleman Scholar looked at everything the station covered day to day and began connecting one thing to the next, bringing audio waves to life in a unique form that was both engaging and easy to absorb.”

The motion visuals of the spots lent themselves so readily to print that the campaign expanded into newspapers and periodicals, as well as enormous billboards posted around the Qatar. Gentleman Scholar also teamed up with an outside company to convert the spot to stereoscopic 3D for cinema.

A crew traveled to Qatar for the shoot to ensure that the particular breed of Arabian horse and iconic falcon were featured in the spot. “QF Radio was understandably very specific about accuracy in regards to their cultural symbols,” Johnson explained. “A horse isn’t just a horse. We’re talking about a very specific Arabian breed, which ranks among the most recognizable and valuable in world, and wore make-up for the shoot. To do this spot right, it was vital for our team to travel to Qatar to experience life there.”

TBWA Worldwide CD Allan Manaysay sought Campbell and Johnson out for this special project after having had a great experience with the duo on a popular PlayStation spot several years ago.

“Allan was vital in helping us secure work with the most powerful and politically important client we’ve ever worked for directly,” explained Campbell. “This was a very fun client to work with. And once we’d secured the project, the trust we had established through our previous collaboration with the agency gave us free reign to create.”

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