Digital Kitchen: Microsoft MindQuest

Digital Kitchen’s MindQuest isn’t just a hilarious attempt at recreating cutting edge video production values from the 1980s (although it totally nails that); it’s a great example of what happens when a client (Microsoft) has enough courage to hire the right agency (Wexley School for Girls), who in turn has the vision to collaborate with the perfect studio for the job.


Although it reveals my inner nerd to admit this, my favorite moment is the blue screen of death, followed by the disclaimer, “It’s still in beta.”

The whole point of this video is to drive traffic to Microsoft’s Hey Genius site, a massive recruiting effort that’s as much about finding the best talent as it is about changing young people’s perception of Microsoft.

There are a few making-of images on Cody Cobb’s Flickr page that are worth a gander. Cody was the lead designer on this project, and as such it was his job to walk the fine line between bad cheesy and good cheesy. This is a line Cody is quite comfortable walking. (Take a few extra minutes to check out Cody’s photography. His work is amazing.)

The music was lovingly crafted by Danny Wolfers, another perfect choice for this job.

Executive Producer: Mark Bashore
Creative Lead/Director: Brad Abrahams
Lead Designer/Animator: Cody Cobb
Original Concept and Design: Ben Grube
Animator: Jayne Vidheecharoen
Modeler: John Foreman
VHS Machine Operator: Dave Molloy
Producer: Carrine Fisher
Original Score: Danny Wolfers

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



it’s awesome, but looks a bit too much like the eyeball inc. power video…


post your reel, and ill let you know how much of your stuff looks like someone elses.


Love the low poly eagle. It’s very real win. Great work all involved, cody cobb does some great work, digital and photographically.


I’m glad Microsoft is aware that they’re perceived this way. Hopefully they can shake things up a bit.


its good, it’s real good.
… and that cody, he makes me swoon.



First, I bow down to any DK production;
Second, apparently in your world one can’t comment on football without being a player, can’t comment a movie without being a director, can’t comment on food without being a chef; let’s not mention commenting on the girl’s next door boobs – “hey, barret, show YOUR boobs first!”


work faster on your reel, i bet its almost there bud!
second, this is a motion graphics forum, not sports, film, food, or tits.

Epic fail, man! come back with constructive criticism next time, not who rips who.


ok, i’ve no constructive criticism for this one, but…
IT’S DAMN FUNNY!!! the blue screen was hilarious :)



my rebut was pointing to a logical fallacy called “poisoning the well”; according to that, only people working at the industry could comment a spot.

if Cobb ever read this, I apologize if my comment sounded harsh or a rip of criticism; I actually enjoyed a lot the spot.


Should have busted out an Amiga and a genlock!

Could have saved a lot of time instead using all that Houdini stuff. ;)

Fun stuff!


hey barret,
no hard feelings. i was being a little harsh. its just difficult seeing so many people leaving comments that refer to spots looking like someone elses spot, when theres alot of blood sweat and tears that go into everything that is posted here.

never meant to harp on you man, im sure youre a stand up dude.



we debated using a vintage Video Toaster circa mid 90s but couldn’t find a working model.


Thank you! It was really hard to key his shiny jacket, so I’m glad people seem to like it. I wanted to use one of these:

Honestly, this project was way too much fun. Finding a balance between “it’s really bad,” “it’s too bad,” and “we’d like to be able to read our logo” was the tough part. Segways are also really hard to ride.


eh, I’m just not a fan of this…not to compare projects, but eyeballs piece was at the very least… hysterrical & way more inventive. I think the writing could have been better on this.


Okay let’s the review the formula for rave reviews with motion graphics project during the 2000s:

Take anything old within the last 30 years and revive the aesthetics of it.

Master the details. Master the details!!!!

Set a big brand logo within the context of this revival.


Hopefully you found a “LOOK” that others will give a knee jerk reaction to with minimal effort : “OH yeah hilarious…HAHAHA…AWESOME…I LOVE IT…”

pretend to not care about the subject – very important!!!

Use this formula for fashion, painting, film, commercials, design, even architecture etc…

repeat infinitely.

GET PAID BIG BUCKS…with no real creative risks and have an audience ready made too…((their memory!!!))

PERFECT design solution from the past always wins..

Everyone loves a KICK ASS RERUN…..RAD…


RAD like the BMX movie from 1986?


Our initial inspiration was more “Astral Projection Instructional VHS” and less “Saved by the Bell spinning triangles / Fresh Prince hats.” Creating a timeless piece of design for the 21st century was never the objective.

It was a fun job to work on. We’re still not sure on how to cash the giant-sized check for the amount of “BIG BUCKS,” though.


YES….RAD like your favorite Bmx movie!!..YOU GOT IT!!!

This project was masterfully executed and the idea is clever.

My comments are just observations about certain design strategies that seem to repeat themselves since I have been reading this blog for the last three – four years…Thats all…for the sake of spirited conversation..I decided to establish the recipe for others to follow.

we already know that the execution of this project is good. I don’t think it would be listed if it wasn’t. My comment was kind of directed to a much larger trend that this design strategy falls within.


For the record, my favorite BMX movie is 1983’s “BMX Bandits.”


It’s all about “Gleaming the Cube”.


gleaming the cube was a skateboard movie that was essentially a murder mystery, more than it was a movie focused on the craft of mid 80s boarding. i recommend Thrashin’… staring the delightful and witty Josh Brolin. When you got “bro” in the lastname of the star to a skate movie, you immediately have an instant classic.

you guys should check out the dirtbike kid… its got the kid from a christmas story, which both were also great 80s flicks.


LOL, I can’t believe you dropped “Thrashin” while your at it might as well hit up “airborne” and cover your inline skating

Big City

Reminds me of Lawnmower Man and the Channel 53 posts.

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