Home Theater Projectors
LCD Monitors - Large Display
3M Overhead Projectors
Design & Installation
Service & Support
Staging & Productions
Ask Us Forum
Demo & Rental Gear Sale
Ask Us E-mail
United Visual Newsletter
For Facility Managers
For Corporate Trainers
For Sales Professionals
About United Visual
Reaching United Visual
video key to the Mobius
United Visual Rentals
goes behind the screen at the annual ceremony
Oscar and you think of movies. Say Emmy and television comes to mind.
But say Mobius and odds are you'll get a blank stare. It may not be
a household name yet, but the annual Mobius Awards are steadily growing
in importance in the international advertising industry.
According to J.W. Anderson, founder and host of the awards, 2000 was
the most successful in the awards' nearly 30 year history, with entries
from over 37 countries. Anderson's company held the ceremonies in
the domed rotunda area of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in
downtown Chicago. Three hundred guests watched the awards presentation
and the winning commercials simultaneously on a large rear projection
screen. Hidden behind that screen was a video and audio presentation
system from United Visual Rental, together with rental technician
Bob Clark, who operated the system throughout the ceremonies.
What's a mobius?
In mathematics, a mobius is a two-sided circular surface with unusual
properties. In the world of advertising, it's an international award for
excellence in the fields of television, radio, print and packaging. Anderson,
who had already founded the U.S. International Film and Video Festival,
began the awards in the early 1970s, though he he did not add the Mobius
symbol until 1989.
"We had plaques that we gave out and everybody else had statuettes," says
Anderson, "something you could put your hand around and hold up. We went
through all the Greek god names and and everything under the sun and finally
hit on the Mobius." To make a mobius, take a long thin strip of paper
and give one end a half twist. Then join the two ends together. You'll
have a circular strip whose surface never ends yet turns itself indefinitely.
"We liken it to communications, ongoing and never ending. The fact that
the statuette is a little abstract and asymmetrical is, again, like communications.
It's viewed differently by different people from different aspects."
Backstage at the awards
it's not as large as the organizations that hand out the Oscars and the
Emmys, the Mobius staff runs the awards a little differently than most
people would expect-striving for a faster pace that emphasizes the work
more than the winners. They stage their awards ceremony to look much like
the TV commercials it showcases. A live announcer stays hidden behind
the rear projection screen, delivering his comments in the form of voiceovers.
Though they purposely do not rehearse, Mobius staff time the program closely
and run it without any stops. A Mobius employee acting as director, also
behind the screen, keeps a close eye on the script, handing United Visual's
Bob Clark videotapes and cueing him when to switch the video from preview
monitor to the big screen. The videos are interspersed with slides of
the print winners and audiotapes of the radio winners. "It was interesting
watching all those video clips," says Clark "but it was tense in a few
spots because everything was moving so fast." There's an element of excitement
to any awards ceremony no matter where you sit, and the unrehearsed nature
of the Mobius Awards keeps things electric.
For the last two years, Mobius staff has rented all of the audio-visual
equipment they use from United Visual, including the Epson LCD projector
that does most of the work. Clark arrives at about three in the afternoon
to begin setting up the equipment for the six p.m. show. He and one assistant
set up a large fast-fold rear projection screen and draperies to create
the projection area. There he sets up two three-quarter inch VCRs, two
preview monitors, and the sound system, which includes two microphones-one
for the unseen announcer and one at the podium out front. Clark also sets
up a video mixer that allows him to use fades or wipes to provide smooth
transitions between videos.
Building toward the awards ceremony
"We've developed a very comfortable working relationship with United,"
says Anderson. "We feel very confident with their capabilities. That
is a very big help because the night of the awards there's a certain
amount of pressure to make sure everything comes off properly." It's
not just one evening's success that's in the balance, but the months
of preparation and judging that go into the awards. The annual call
for entries ends in October and then the screenings begin. Staff edit
all entries in each category onto one tape and send them to industry
peers for judging.
Not every entry is a sample of technological wizardry. Some countries
are more advanced than others, and some producers just don't get excited
by special effects. But sometimes the lowest budget public service
announcements get their point across quite well. "People really enjoy
seeing what people are doing in other countries. No matter where the
entry may come from, there are universal elements that are sure to
sell...children, pets, family values, and of course, humor. The true
test of advertising," says Anderson, "is whether or not it sells a
In a similar way,
not every entry is in the contest for reasons you might expect. While
agencies value the Mobius as a way to establish their industry credentials,
Anderson says the number one reason has more to do with agency morale
than with clients. Everyone likes to be recognized when they do a
good job. Agencies have learned that writers, designers and producers
like to work for a company where they know that recognition is possible.
One result of the effort to keep things a little different is the
fact that most contestants know in advance whether they should expect
a statuette. That's partly because the awards are international, with
people going through significant expense to travel from Europe, Asia
and Africa to accept an award. But it also keeps the ceremony fast
paced. The only unannounced winner is the Best of Show, who also gives
the night's only acceptance speech. Instead of listening to speeches,
the audience can concentrate on their peers' best work.
and the awards
Though not as well known as an Oscar or a Pulitzer, the Mobius is
coming into its own.
United Visual is not as well know as a Pulitzer either, but, like
Mobius, makes up for that in the quality of its program. "In the old
days," says Bob Clark, "our customers would rent a simple slide or
overhead projector. But presentations are getting more technical and
clients are expecting a lot more." A firm like United Visual can be
very important to a show like the Mobius Awards. United is offering
lighting and staging services now as well as computer multimedia and
the kinds of video and audio setups used at the awards. Yet, says
Clark, the most important thing they offer is the ability to take
on the technical worries in a given presentation and allow their clients
to concentrate on the task at hand.
Many of today's commercials cost more than the programs they interrupt.
On the night of the Mobius Awards the commercials become the program.
They make you laugh, they make you cry, they make you think. Isn't
it nice to know the best of them are being recognized?