BenQ Retro Competition
This was a competition entry to BenQ's Instagram Retro Monitor competition where everyone is given roughly 1 month to create a post featuring the BenQ PD3205U monitor with anything retro-themed. The entries were judged by 3 professional artists with a monitor and cash prize for the top 3 posts.
March 28th 2022- May 9th 2022
BenQ is a company known for manufacturing monitors, projectors and presentation tools. Their product lineup are aimed at gamers and professional content creators that require color accurate screens. As part of their product promotions, they often host competitions on instagram as a way to give back to their community and promote their products.
I took the opportunity to join the competition and turn it into my 2nd individual project for the BISIA 450 class, Image and Imagination. The project for the class was creating and presenting a project on something I'm interested in (after getting approval from the professor). I used this challenge as an opportunity to improve my skill in Clip Studio Paint and Davinci Resolve.
As part of the requirements, BenQ monitors provided stock images of their BenQ PD3205U monitor as the main focus of the retro competition. Using these images, we were given the creative freedom to use any method to showcase the monitor in a retro-themed way.
The idea of "Retro" is so vague that I had to do some research and discussions with my professor to understand what it means. As defined by Google, retro is the "imitative of a style, fashion, or design from the recent past", which vastly changes depending on the individual. For my professor whose in his 40s, retro was defined by the era of abstract art and 1990s mid-century modern furniture like the Eames Lounge Chair or the Egg Chair. As for my perception of retro, I had vivid memories of my old living room with a big rear projection tv and a small CRT tv that uses VHS tapes in addition to old gaming consoles. It was the gaming consoles like the Nintendo 64, Game Cube, game boy color, etc. that created my whole childhood memories. This became the basis of my initial idea of creating a living room space that would feature the BenQ brand as an old CRT TV with retro game consoles and other early 2000s objects.
For the first version of my concept, I didn't have that much time to create a sketch since I had to present it to the class as part of a project progress update report. So I quickly put together something that resembles a CRT TV and mostly verbally described my concept of creating a retro-style living room to feature the BenQ product as part of a competition. The layout design was made so that the viewer's attention would focus on the bright TV screen to showcase the BenQ products while other retro objects would be placed around to make it feel like a childhood livingroom.
Changing My Approach
After I started creating a draft version of the old TV, I realized that getting quality pictures of retro game consoles and furniture with the right angles is quite a challenge. Further revisions showed that adding additional objects will take away the focus from the BenQ product since the screen space is already limited to Instagram's image post dimensions. The concept completely changed when I remembered watching the distinct Infomercial ads that would play on the tv during ad breaks. I was really familiar with the concept considering my dad who used to own a furniture store and he would also use the same flashy bright yellow, red, and white posters as a way to highlight furniture product value.
I wanted to make it as generic as possible to invoke the feeling of nostalgia using the same tactics advertisers used for years on infomercials. Using the same eye-piercing white, red, and yellow comic sans cramped text with a blue background. I began slowly piecing together the fake infomercial ad by recreating common elements such as font choice, telephone number, slogans/ call to action, price tag, payment methods, and product display. To make it feel more realistic, I airbrushed some black and blue to give the tv glow feeling along with a scanline filter layer and wood table edges to make it feel like it's inside a tv cabinet. I also made up the line, "This is what all artists crave for" because it is a product aimed at artists for its color accuracy plus 4k resolution.
I also thought about what people were excited about back in the early 2000s and the idea of emerging 3D graphics, synth-wave aesthetics, and fire trails representing speed (like hot wheels) came into mind. The one that felt like the most suitable theme was the synth-wave style design because it felt futuristic/tech-related and it still has a large recognition as a popular art style.
Piecing the Puzzle together
Since I was creating the image from scratch, I began piecing the components together using Clip Studio Paint one layer at a time. The main frame started with a png file of an old 1950s television. Then came the shading, screen effect, and table wood edges. After that, It was mostly filling in text and image assets to create the Infomercial look.
Making Minor Adjustments
After creating the basic infomercial, I began refining the design and experimenting with small changes to get the image to feel right. My first draft looked okay, and it was probably enough for the competition, BUT I still had plenty of time before the entries closes so i decided to ask classmates and friends on recommending suggestions and feedback.
The very first completed version of the infomercial image. I noticed that the product name was really difficult to read due to the scanline filter blurring the text. Which is why I decided to take it out until a more suitable filter was added. As a side note, you might've noticed that the price was different from the screenshots above and it's because it was changed later after hearing some feedback suggestions.
Removing the scanline filter drastically improved the readability of the text. Additionally, the green backdrop of the product name helped make the purple/ pink text pop out better. However, I still felt like the image looks too clean and fake to feel retro.
The very first completed version of the infomercial image. I noticed that the product name was really difficult to read due to the scanline filter blurring the text. Which is why I decided to take it out until a more suitable filter was added. Also as suggested by one of my classmates, infomercials often installment plans or have small visible text. I then took it into consideration and changed the price tag to match the monitor's actual price under 4 payment installments.
After struggling to find a suitable scanline filter that gives the image the effect of an old tv screen, I decided to use Davinci Resolve to add the screen effect. The reason I want to get the effect right is because it makes the image much more immersive by recreating the visual effect of past tech. At first, I used the scanline filter because it was the effect I wanted to replicate. Except, the effect still made the text hard to read and kind of distracting. That's when I found the Analog Damage texture filter which pixelated the image and it wasn't as destructive or distracting as the scanline filter.
The Scanline filter was used in this version of the image. The giant scan lines made the text super blurry that only the largest fonts were readable. Additionally, the flickering effect hurts the eyes so it ended up making the screen unpleasant to look at.
Analog Damage Texture Filter
After experimenting with the different effects included with the Davinci Resolve program, I decided to apply the Analog Damage texture to replicate the old TV screen feel. Additionally, a wall of Loren Ipsum text was added at the end to replicate the rapid text scroll of terms and services that happens after a tv ad ends.
To add more movement and life to the infomercial, I decided to add a synth-wave background gif that adds movement to the static background. This became the final version of the infomercial design after making a few more additional tweaks to make the file format suitable for an Instagram post.
Although I didn't win any of the top 3 cash/ monitor prizes to gift my mom a new monitor, the competition was a nice learning experience. Additionally, during the submission of the entries, I also noticed that my post inspired an influx of "old-style ads" showcasing the monitor in different formats.
If I was given the opportunity to continue this project, I would've tweaked a few more details such as cropping the analog damage texture to only affect the screen content and not include the TV frame. Other additional changes I would've made were improving or removing the terms and service section, adding audio like a song jingle, or using a voice filter to create a short infomercial ad speech.