The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the internet, which is as big a deal as it sounds. In late 2022, we were approached to be the official creative partner for the 27th annual event. It was not long after ChatGPT, Midjourney, and many other generative AI platforms had exploded in popularity. For an event all about creativity on the internet, we knew AI was going to be a big topic. But we also knew that AI is a fraught subject—especially for creative people. It’s exciting for all of the creative opportunities it opens up, but it’s scary because auto generative capabilities can seem to conflict with human generative capabilities. So, we decided that the theme, brand identity, and keynote video should focus on that conversation by posing a question to the community: “how do you feel about all this?” From that prompt came the title of the event: “That Feeling”.
SpecialGuest worked closely with the Webbys team to bring the creative direction of the event to life. Our work involved developing designs for all social assets so that Cavna, the Webbys key sponsor, could get the word out for nominees. We also worked closely with the events team at the Webbys, and Lake Buckley co-directed the keynote video with Aaron Duffy.
“That Feeling” was a concept that came with great creative responsibility. This moment in technology is hitting differently for everyone, but there is something new and important in the air that feels hard to put your finger on.
In the concepting stages, we used AI autogenerative tools to imagine the Webbys content as part of the ongoing AI conversation. Using simple AI interpolation tools, we created “auras” that mixed the different emotional color states of creative people into ambient blotches. Those color auras were excited and subdued at the same time and became the basis for the brand identity that shows up across the nomination art, the website content, and the stage design. From there, we created a video that literally asked people how they were feeling about this moment and visualized it with bits of AI autogenerative video.
To us, this work feels like a kind of emotional time capsule that’s both abstractly beautiful and poignantly truthful. If this is a turning point in the development of AI, we will be looking back at it as a crossroads, almost like the weeks and days before the first Covid lockdowns.