Why Stories are Better than Technology



The world of movie animation has come a long way from the black and white sketchings first debuted on the silver screen. Animators are using amazing technologies that bring art to life, telling and retelling stories that take years to construct into a final product meant to dazzle movie-goers and delight children of all ages. Disney and other animation big names encourage the development of technology as time progresses and there are more opportunities to uncover innovation in their field.

An innate sense of curiosity helps the people behind the magic to keep putting new things in front of audiences. While Disney was introducing his idea of adding depth to animation through the multiplane camera, he likely did not imagine that one day his team of animators would be showing audiences 3D films with life-like movements in every hair follicle. But we know that his vision was far beyond the scope of each film project. He shared that vision with others, pushing them to figure out better and brighter ways to make art come alive, to make magic happen, and to bring happiness to as many people as possible. He knew that new ways of doing things would work towards convincing audiences of the reality of the stories he presented.

Though the technology is ever changing, the idea of telling a story is a constant. If a movie relies too heavily on its technology, it’s not easy to watch, but if the story is amazing, new, heart-wrenching and all those good things, well--that’s exactly what we’re looking for. To tell a story better, animators will actually develop new technologies mid-project, allowing their characters and ideas to become more realistic in order to reflect the reality of the lessons of a story.

The best way to know that a movie’s story is more important than the technology behind it, is to examine it years down the road. We can watch classics like Snow White and Bambi and still be delighted by the characters, music, and whimsical drawing style. These films are classics not because of how they look, but what their stories teach us, show us, and how they relate to us. Recently, Disney has started translating these classic stories into live-action films, enhanced by computer-based animation technologies--something not possible when the stories were originally told. What is fascinating is that they are not merely reproducing the same story with a different look, but they are unraveling character background stories, adding new elements and experimenting with technology to best tell these new stories. When one of these reboots focuses more on simply the cool new tech, audiences everywhere leave disappointed--and the box office numbers prove it.

Research is very much the same:

There are so many cool new technologies surrounding research. We can now talk to Beijing in real-time to get reactions to advertisements, discuss purchasing habits, and learn about how cultural differences affect brand perceptions. We can survey people on the store they are shopping in right now by pinging their phones for a couple quick questions. We have access to big data, which shows us the mob mentality of consumers in very compelling ways. We can listen in on chats between consumers about lifestyle and brand usage without even prompting them. There are lots of developers in the research world alone creating apps to talk to consumers where we weren’t able to before. It is incredibly unbelievable what we can do.

But that technology shouldn’t be all that we wield as researchers. If we focus on these cool tools, it’s easy to lose the reason we’re doing this: to find the story and actual CONNECT with the consumer. The great thing about these cool new technologies is that we are privileged to see the bigger picture, the wider range, the minute details, and the individual reactions. These pieces only add together to create a satisfying research experience when the researcher puts them together in a story.

We love finding the story. It’s focused, it’s action-oriented, and it’s inspiring. When we report back to our clients, we rarely mention the tech we used and instead dive right into all the cool stuff we found out. We take our time before handing over our reports to make sure that we’re telling the story as it should be told; focusing on what actions our clients can take next and why those actions are important.

We also know that sometimes a project should be done with a little bit more of the old-fashioned, and we’re not afraid of it. There is still merit to the wonderful techniques that were used for years before all this fancy tech came along. We’re not afraid of old-school because we know how important the end-game is; we know that the people are what it’s all about.

Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we're too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone. - Steven Spielberg