moving around the model as she posed in different looks. The
results of the shoot were 2D videos capturing the model rotating
360 degrees. Rader then built 3D environments on the computer
using a videogame engine—the software that provides the
backbone for maps, characters and objects within a 3D videogame
world. Finally they imported each video of the model into the 3D
environments so she appears to be standing in fantastic meadows,
gardens or an unreal landscape. The final product is captured with
what Rader calls a “virtual camera”: in post, Reed + Rader can
choose any angle or camera movement they can dream up—even
ones that would be difficult or impossible to create in real life.
“We’d been doing GIFs and video for a long time, and we made it
a goal of ours to not just have static cameras anymore,” Rader says.
“We wanted sweeping camera angles.”
V’s online editor Natasha Stagg says Reed + Rader’s work helps
illuminate the nuance of style and fashion trends. Before they
began shooting “Flowers,” she talked to the pair about the floral
prints and severe architectural shapes showing up in Spring/
Summer 2014 clothes. “I thought the way Reed + Rader captured
those shapes by creating this sort of sci-fi world for them to live in
was just very on point,” Stagg says.
Their process allows them to create dramatic and imaginative
camera movements in post production, rather than being forced to
capture them on set. “We get to control whatever the flyby camera
angle is after the [shoot],” Reed says. The results can be a video, as it
was in “Flowers,” or they can drop frames and colors to make a GIF, as
in their recent job for Ray-Ban sunglasses. The client, Moving Image
& Content (MIC), matched Reed + Rader with Audrey Kitching, a
blogger, model and jewelry designer. The workflow for the project,
“Ray-Ban Remix,” was close to that of “Flowers,” with their video
camera moving on a fixed track, but they composited each shot of
Kitching into a single GIF. They made the CGI background with lots
of pink and crystals, to match Kitching’s esthetic.
“Reed + Rader’s work is high fashion, yet still approachable,”
ABOVE: In “Ray-Ban Remix,” the duo composited their videos of the subject in
says Quynh Mai, founder of MIC. “Their GIFs are high-quality and
beautifully executed. There’s a sense of fantasy and magic within
They have reached the enviable position of being treated as
hands-on collaborators by their clients. “Clients aren’t going to
come to us to shoot a girl against a white wall,” Reed says. Rader
concurs: “When a client approaches us, they pretty much leave
it up to us. They have a vague scope, but it’s, ‘Work some magic,’
which is awesome.”
many looks into a single GIF. BELO W: “Flowers” represents the “virtual camera”
technique that allows Reed + Rader to create any camera movement they can
imagine in post-production.
The pair, who met as students at Pittsburgh Art Institute, were
not long out of graduate school at New York City’s School of Visual
Arts when they decided they were done with making still images.
Still images are static; the Internet is anything but. Why not take
advantage of that? Even though they weren’t new, they could use
GIFs to evolve “a new form of photography,” Rader says, that could
leverage the Internet’s capability to do things that print can’t.
They pitched their ideas to fashion magazines that were in
obvious need of help on their websites. Most turned them down, but
the younger, forward-thinking magazines could see the potential.
Their first high-profile editorial for POP magazine was a hit, and
other offers started pouring in. One early editorial client was V.
“I really think that of all the teams I’ve worked with for online-
Just as they wanted to change the perception of GIFs as goofy
only content, they really understand that idea of transferring
a fashion editorial to a Web audience better than maybe any,”
says V’s Stagg. She adds, “They also come up with ideas that are
completely different from the one before them each time, and
that’s really exciting.”
Reed + Rader are itching to keep pushing into new territories.
cartoon bitmaps, they’re trying to do the same with 3D gaming
“People think of gaming engines and their first instinct is ‘Oh,
For the sequel, Dubstep Dinosaurs 3D, they will import the dancing
‘Deathmatch,’ we’re going to shoot people,’” says Reed. “So we’ve
been really hyped up about making GIFs not just goofy flames and
skulls…[but] turning them into a legitimate photographic medium.”
Rader says he hopes to take the virtual camera that they use
in post-production rendering from passive to active, giving users
control over their view of the 3D environments they create. The first
step will be a follow up to a video called Dubstep Dinosaurs—which
features dubstep dancers in cardboard costumes—which was part
of their solo exhibition “Cretaceous Returns” that was shown at
New York’s School of Visual Arts and 18 Hewett Street in London.
dinos into a 3D world—built in programs like Maya, MotionBuilder,
Cinema 4D and Unreal Engine—that the viewer can explore.
It may be some time before the Internet can become as
interactive as Reed + Rader envisions it. But it wouldn’t be
surprising if they’ve already mastered it by the time it does.