Microsoft Sustainability

For those of you that have made it past the headline, congratulations: I now grant you access to the future!


Working with Microsoft and director  Mason Nicoll (former creative director at Digital Kitchen and Prologue), Seattle-based studio Oh, Hello brought this vision of a highly-gadgetized future to life with some slick roto, loads of tracking and, of course, silky smooth futurific animation.

I gotta be honest: I’m a closet futurist. I’ve read Kurzweil’s books, and I daydream regularly about some of the stuff depicted in this project. Which means that in addition to enjoying this from the perspective of motion design, it interests me in the larger context of technology and culture.

If this video is any indicator, the future will fuse together interactive and motion design in ways that this project only begins to imagine. Regardless of whether Microsoft is behind it, those who understand the rich nuances of time-based experienced will be well-positioned to succeed.

Nathan Barr of Oh, Hello was kind enough to answer some of the more pragmatic questions I had about the project:

Did Microsoft have the UI concepts fully boarded out? If so, did they have any idea how the interfaces would move and interact with the users?

The UI design was already fully realized by the Office Labs team over at Microsoft.  However, it was always evolving and we received new artwork almost every week—which we then had to extrapolate from their AI files and re-animate.
MS did have some very basic AE animations before the shoot that they had built for their UI as well—that way they could direct the talent as to what the general action would be. (Move your finger here, click here once, etc.) However, since this stuff was evolving so quickly, there was a lot of creative interpretation as well when they shot it.

Did Mason come to you guys after he’d already shot everything? Is so, was it challenging not having any input during the shooting?

Mason had been talking to us during pre-production and did get some input from us on how to shoot a couple of the shots—namely the newspaper and some of the whiteboard stuff.  Thai and Dan were also able to be there on set to help with VFX direction the day they shot the classroom scene.

That being said, there was still a lot of trickery and cheating that was required to make their actions match up with what was supposed to happening in the “software / UI story.”

This looks like a pretty massive project—5 minutes! How long did you guys work on it?

Our part in the project from start to finish took just over 2 months.  They cut it down in LA and sent us the “locked” edit to work with.  The process was pretty much to work scene-by-scene—starting with tracking and roto, then moving on to UI animation and compositing.

The client gave feedback on each scene piece-meal, but we didn’t actually go back to revise anything until the end.

Live action
Director: Mason Nicoll
EP / Producer: Ellen Stafford

Post production: Oh, Hello
Roto / Tracking: Charlie Bartlett, Dan Brown, Thai Tran, David Holm
UI Animation: Dan Brown, Thai Tran, David Holm
Compositing: Dan Brown Thai Tran, David Holm

Roto: Motor and AE
Tracking: Mocha and AE
Animation and compositing: AE


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.



Sweet, although kinda similar to Vodafone’s Future Vision Site deployed by NorthKingdom in 2004.


wow! awesome job guys! What a beautiful job.
hats off.

Simon Robson

unreal…great job


wow definitely hats off! best tracking and ui animation ive seen so far.


I agree with the above – fantastic work with the post – tracking and animation were all gorgeous. However, am I the only one who thinks that this looks like some sort of nightmare of interface design? How confusing does everything in the workplace look? How much power would be needed to show that idiot in the airport where to go to catch his flight?
And nobody there appears to actually be doing any work! They’re all just having a swell time looking at pretty things. Nope, not for me. If this actually happens, I’m going to go and work on a farm.


super pretty, super long, but where’s the youtube? is this some androgenous future on mars?

i like the idealism here, but the interface looks too much like a pretty annual report, and not enough like firefox. duh…


That world makes me sad. Way to clean, sterile, isolated. Someone call Trent Reznor, FAST!!

Great technical work!

The design reminds me of all the websites that discovered Flash 6 or 7 years ago… But I’m going to blame microsoft for that.. always pushing the boundaries of the past.


Also similar to what some grad students at ACCD have been doing:


which is similiar to everything we saw in minority report… yadda yadda..
ALL of this stuff isnt exactly new..




Big corporations?


The future of technology lies on the eyes of individuals, not giant corporations.


I wonder if there is any relationship between Microsoft and the people at MIT who developed this:


In terms of motion graphics, it’s beautiful. Lines, shapes, click/drag, and we all know the pinch/expand thing is no longer new…. it’ll get the idea that they want across. Clean, sustainable, change in communication… etc. etc. Everyone else will awe — b/c this isn’t simply sci fi anymore.

In terms of concept, well… we should all know, now, that nothing is new, or original — everyone’s fighting for a similar goal, and that thrives business, technology, and good ol’ healthy competition…. So, being upset somehow that they’re not original and others are and have been working towards what you saw in the video — silly. Take it for what it is. We’re not on a trade site for science and technology development and schematics.


Actually nothing is that innocent!

And coming from a gigantic corporation …
This is not about originality, isn’t it?
It is about selling, isn’t it?

They have the right to sell whatever!
Anyone has the right to say/wrote whatever about …

ART today is Forever married to science and technology anyway!


Great UI, perfect animation and tracking. Great job guys!
One thing I didn’t like was the MUSIC! It didn’t support the animation….

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