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Dishin' Up What's Hot
(we're not talking about that steamy cheese pull!)

We recently had the opportunity to give a presentation about trends in the tabletop industry to our production consultant colleagues. We enjoyed researching and cataloguing all the major comings + goings and thought we'd share a few of our top callouts with our community. We would love to open up the conversation and hear what you think!  Here are the top 5 trends that we presented: 

1. The Unicorn Director: In 2021 we saw a ton of boards from agency producers looking for the “Unicorn Director” who can direct tabletop and talent in categories like lifestyle, comedy and even dance choreography (that one came up a lot).  While this is a great solution for a number of creative asks, we sometimes recommend that the agency enlist a separate lifestyle Director and tabletop Director to bring together two masterminds. We've seen some resistance to this suggestion, resulting in spots that are imbalanced – lacking in either the talent or tabletop direction. What to do about this?

2. Enhanced Realism:  You've likely heard the term "perfectly imperfect", which can refer to that extra drip of sauce sneaking out of a burger bun or crumbs of bread scattered nonchalantly around a cutting board.  We are seeing that this concept has recently been taken a step further into the "imperfect" zone, as creatives are looking to highlight the natural reactions of food, both in the way it's styled and in the way it's prepared on camera.  This recent spot from Panera is a great example.

3. Surrealism: Opposite to the above trend, we have also noticed a trend towards surrealism.  Perhaps COVID times have created a need for escapism, or the absurdity of TikTok trends are finding their way into the mainstream, but whatever the reason, we've enjoyed watching a range of fantastical visual stories that show just how creative tabletop can be!  

4. CGI Integration: CGI has been around for ages and we're continuing to see its use increase. There is the usual 3D modeling for cans, bottles, electronics, and CPG pack shots and a quickly growing trend toward stylized, 2D motion graphics. We are seeing illustrated representations of packaging and products themselves, which in many cases means less is being created photographically. But we don't see CGI or motion graphics as a competitor or replacement to tabletop production. Rather they are a complementary tool that have growing relevance and importance. CGI can be cost effective in many scenarios and offer a solution to creative ideas that require breaking the laws of physical reality, but tabletop shot practically is often the choice for shooting liquids and particles, as those images benefit from the authentic combination of order and chaos that ensues from a slow motion pour.  Often times a creative brief can be taken to another level by combining the skills of both CGI and tabletop teams. We recently had the opportunity to shoot a project for Nespresso and Starbucks that worked in exactly this way.  We worked alongside Hinge Digital to create spots that combine equal amounts of tabletop shots (executed practically) and CGI generated shots.  We will release the campaign soon, but in the meantime, you can reference the cover image above for a CGI-generated coffee pod, created by Hinge.

Some people suggest that CGI will replace much of what we shoot practically. Please share your thoughts with us on this!

5. TikTok Influencers: We're excited to see a growing interest in the tabletop world from TikTok influencers.  One of our goals for 2022 is to help cultivate this budding talent, as we believe that their creativity, ingenuity and self-starting motivation could be massively beneficial to our industry.  They are doing things differently, and time will tell whether their processes evolve to meet industry norms or if the industry evolves to accept new ways of doing things. Either way, things are changing and we're excited to participate in the process.

We're looking forward to hearing what you think about our trend picks.  Do you agree or disagree?  What new trends do you anticipate for 2022? Reach out to us here and let us know your thoughts! 
West Coast Rep
Lauren Schuchman 

East Coast Rep
Mike Orsini

Midwest  Reps
Dawn Ratcliffe + Margueritte Juliusson

Studio Address
20434 Santa Fe Avenue, Stage 19
Long Beach, Ca 90810

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