The Texas Stars at night, are big and bright

IMG_9264Every once in awhile, we like to brag. Do SUM Bragging, if you will. Sometimes, it’s a #humblebrag about a unique event or client we’re working with. Other times, it’s an exotic location. This time, however, we wanted to pop our collar in recognition of an award that was bestowed to SUM Booth (by proxy of owner, Conor Mongan), at the recent 2015 Texas Star Awards.

The Texas Star’s highlight the best and brightest in all of the Texas chapters of the International Special Events Society (which unfortunately is shortened to ISES, a sketchy sounding affiliation these days, but it’s all on the up and up). Anyone in the Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin chapters were eligible for awards.

Our nomination came in the only design related field available — Best Marketing Design for a project under $25,000 — and on a brisk winter night at Brazos Hall here in Austin, we took home the award.

Since design and creativity is such an important element in what we offer to clients, it was nice to be recognized for our talents in that realm. Even better, now you — the client — can tell everyone you’re working with an award winning photo booth. Hopefully this will just be the first of many awards to grace our office. Newbery, Tony and Nobel — we’ve got our eyes on you next!

Introducing Weird Wednesdays

At SUM Booth, we have always embraced the weird.

At events like Comic-Con, we’re known for creating unique and ridiculous images on the fly as a part of our SUM Screen service. However, we got to thinking, this service shouldn’t just be limited to the people we meet at events across this fine planet of ours. Its our duty to bring weird Photoshopped images to everyone — well, everyone that has internet access — all year long. And that’s just what we’re going to do.

Here’s how it will work: every other Wednesday, we’ll post a mad-lib style sentence on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You’ll complete that mad-lib in the most creative way possible, and link a photo of yourself that would best fit the scene you described. Send that mad-lib and photo to us on any of those social networks, and we’ll choose our favorite one. Keep in mind, this isn’t a popularity contest, however if we do see that one entry is getting a ton of favs/RTs/likes, we may be swayed by the demands of the public and go with that one (but not if it’s lame, of course).

You must follow/like SUM Booth on the social network that you post it on, and you have to hashtag #sumbooth as a part of your entry. For instance, a possible entry would look like this: a photo of myself as a centaur walking through a giant box of Lunchables in the middle of Central Park #sumbooth <attached image>

Also, it should go without saying, but no racist, vulgar or offensive entries are allowed. C’mon now.

After the winning entry is chosen, it will be brought to life by the pixel wizardry of our Texas Star award-winning designer (shameless plug), and on the following Monday, will be posted on FB/Twitter/IG for the world to see.

It’s as easy as that. So what are you waiting for — let’s get weird.

lets-get-weird-workaholics

Service Spotlight — SUM Screen

sumscreen_header

When we say that SUM Booth is driven by design, it’s not just some catchphrase we thought would sound cool. Our genesis came from combining the best of both design and photography, and the sum total of those two things are most evident in our SUM Screen service.

Whether we are using our high-end green screens or pre-printed backdrops, we bring photo shoot quality lighting, on-site printing and a real photographer to every event. Every photo taken is sized and placed with intent, so guests look like they actually fit in a scene and are interacting with elements, instead of just being plopped on top of it. A photo of a baby will look just as good as a photo of a 6′ tall man (or woman) because we utilize an actual photographer and not a fixed position photo booth.

In addition, we are able to manipulate the image in countless ways, which is our most popular — and entertaining — feature. Want your guests to shred on a skateboard? Piece of cake. Do you need photos that match the specific coloration and perspective of something else in the scene? Got it, boss. Need people’s heads to appear on the bodies of monsters and/or zombies? Ok, well that’s a very specific request, but we can do that too.

All of this happens before your guest’s eyes, and don’t worry, we’re used to crowds gathering around and watching our every move. Clients have been known to add on our monitor slideshow, not just as a way to advertise what we’re doing, but also as a secondary source of entertainment all by itself.

We like a challenge, and no idea is too ridiculous for us. If you’re looking for a next-level photo experience for an upcoming event, don’t hesitate to inquire about SUM Screen.

SUM Screen starts at $1325 for 3 hours of service, and includes:

  • 3 hours of service with a photographer and assistant
  • Delivery, set-up and breakdown within 50 miles of Austin or San Diego
  • One custom designed photo template (foreground and background)
  • Unlimited 4×6 prints
  • Photos delivered in plastic sleeves
  • Basic props

Common add-ons and customizations include:

  • Additional service hours: $175
  • Additional miles out of service area: $.56/mile (+hotel/flight/transport for certain durations/locations)
  • Custom printed backdrop: $250
  • Custom props: $40+
  • 5×7 prints: $100+
  • 8×10 prints: $250+
  • iPad sharing stations: $150
  • Live monitor slideshow: $150

Service Spotlight — SUM1

sum1_outside


It started out, as many ideas do, as a sketch on a napkin.

Normally in the photo booth world, after various rounds and degrees of drawings and renderings, the next step would to have the booth be fabricated out of metal, powder-coated a nice sterile white, and then be ushered into business with the potential for clones of it to be pumped out in the future.

While considering that momentarily, we then realized there was something missing from the photo booth market. Something different, in it’s look and materials. Something that would embrace it’s hometown’s rustic roots and high tech industry. Something that would visually fit in at an event in a museum or in a barn. Something that was the entire package — beauty and brains.

That something became SUM1.

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 12.17.20 PMAs mentioned, there’s more to this machine than it’s handcrafted, dark walnut exterior and the aptly named “beauty dish” light source. Inside are the brains of the operation, giving you a variety of options to tailor our service specifically for your event. Want flattering 4×6 photos without a lot of overlay elements? You got it. Want a more creative layout with multiple photos? Not a problem. Want animated gifs that people can text or email to themselves? Roger that. Want guests to film a video message after each image? Shocker, that’s not a problem.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Clients who want to customize the experience can do that as much or as little as they’d like. Add custom graphics to the interface, custom sound prompts, or a custom video reel that plays when people approach the photo booth. Swap out the white faceplate on the entire photo booth to something that represents your event. Don’t want to use one of our pre-existing backdrops? We can have one made specifically for your event.

Have an idea for something that isn’t listed? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make it happen. We love it when clients think outside of the box and push our skill set to make concepts come to life.

SUM1 starts at $1000 for 3 hours of service, and includes:

  • 3 hours of service with a SUM Staffer
  • Delivery, set-up and breakdown within 50 miles of Austin
  • One custom designed photo template
  • Basic customized on-screen graphics
  • Unlimited 4×6 prints
  • Image sharing via text, email or social media channels
  • Choice of one of our backdrops
  • Basic party props

Common add-ons and customizations include:

  • Additional service hours: $125
  • Additional miles out of service area: $.56/mile (+hotel for certain durations)
  • Additional photo template design: $100
  • Animated gif mode: $150
  • Custom printed backdrop: $250
  • Branded faceplate: $200
  • Video reel: $75+
  • Audio cues: $50+
  • Premium on-screen graphics: $75
  • Custom props: $40+
  • 5×7 prints: $100+
  • Additional iPad sharing stations: $150
  • Live monitor slideshow: $150

A Tale of Two Booths

fanexpo_crowd

When talking to prospective corporate clients, sometimes it’s hard to clearly illustrate the benefit of having SUM Booth at your event, since there aren’t concrete sales comparisons or other metrics to contrast in convincing manners. In reality, our core benefit is brand exposure, photo marketing and connecting your product or company with a fun experience and a unique keepsake. So how different would an event go for a company if they did or didn’t employ our services?

At FanExpo Canada, that opportunity presented itself to answer that age-old question in the closest thing to a direct comparison as we’ve ever seen, and the results speak for themselves, to say the least. First a little backstory on the event and the two booths and companies being compared.

fanexpo_logoFanExpo is basically the ComicCon of the Great White North, where fantasy and sci-fi meet comics and anime, with costumed fans meeting and greeting with their favorite stars from past and present. SUM Booth was there with Upper Deck, a trading card company, on their first venture into FanExpo, primarily because 2013 was the first year an official sports element was added.

With that being said, the sports area still played a very faint second fiddle to the core entertainment areas of FanExpo, and was segregated in an isolated hall near the celebrity autographs and photo ops. So, wait — were there sports fans there at all then? Of course, but only a small percentage attended FanExpo solely for that element.

Joining Upper Deck in the sports area was another main card producer — Panini — which was promoting it’s line of NHL cards much like it’s market rival Upper Deck. There were also a number of private vendors selling cards, jerseys, and other pieces of memorabilia, however the two core players in the sports area were clearly Upper Deck and Panini, both with large inviting footprints for guests, bold graphic panels, card displays and employees to field questions. However, Upper Deck was outfitted with one thing that Panini didn’t have — us.

With that being said, below are some images of the two booths taken within minutes of each other. Let’s see if you can notice any differences between the two. It’s kind of subtle, so you really have to get close to the screen and look hard.

fanexpo_nini

fanexpo_ud

So if you paid close attention, one booth is packed with guests, exposing attendees to the company and giving them a branded keepsake to take home and share with others. The other is, well, not.

exterminateLet’s be clear that this isn’t a slam on Panini at all. They are a very reputable brand that puts out a quality product, and we at SUM Booth actually know a handful of people within the company — which is why comparing the two booths was the perfect experiment. However at events such as FanExpo, the reason you travel to Toronto for 4 full days is to maximize the exposure of your brand — otherwise what’s the point of being there? Sure, the air-conditioning was nice and the low-murmurs of the crowds were soothing, but let’s be honest, these are businesses whose goals are profits through market exposure, brand recognition and a sense of a connection between the company and the clientele. If we’re keeping score on who “won” in that regard, it’s hard to ignore the images above.

The shocking thing was we weren’t even targeting the core “demographic” of the event, which was skewed hard to the entertainment side of things. However, our service and offering was so unique that people just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take home a momento from the event — whether it was the Riddler or a member of the X-Men or Pikachu or a Stanley Cup winning Dalek that later told us getting his hockey card made was one of the highlights of the entire event.

If there was ever a way to see what SUM Booth can bring to your event and your brand, this was it.

Be a Socialist

Much like the mainstream press, photo booths of all shapes, sizes and formats have been making the transition from print to digital over the last few years, and SUM Booth is no different. Although the allure of instant gratification and getting a printed photo in your hands is still there, let’s be honest, people want to share that photo  — and they want to share it NOW.

They want to share it with friends, family members and high school classmates that they haven’t spoken to in a decade on Facebook. They want to text it to themselves so they can spend 20 minutes applying every single Instagram filter to the image and post it along with 35 hashtags and/or emojis. They want to tweet it to let everyone know how much fun they’re having and how awesome their life is. We know all of these things to be true, because we do them all too. #guilty

With that in mind, SUM Booth has taken a few different routes to allow guests to share images, and we wanted to break down a few examples of what we’ve done, and what we can potentially do for you.

share_tgs

Tokyo Game Show
While QR codes are kind of an afterthought marketing ploy US companies toss on packaging and ads, in Japan they are quite popular — and believe it or not, people actually scan them! Kind of crazy, we know. With that in mind, we were asked to take photos of attendees of the Tokyo Game Show at the Konami booth, more specifically photos of guests with a variety of characters from the Metal Gear Solid franchise, which was celebrating their 25th anniversary. Not only would guests receive their 4×6 photo on site, but each image was instantly available online and accessible with a unique QR code placed on the back of the photo itself. Simply fire up your smartphone, scan the QR code, and your specific photo would appear. A pretty simple solution and application for what the client was looking to offer.

 

share_sxsw

SXSW
Parties and social functions are a great time to implement some sort of social media sharing aspect, and Fandango implemented just that at a recent SXSW shindig. The client requested that SUM Booth have a variety of movie themes — and full on costumes! — for guests to choose from and play make-believe in, and when we combined it with a little Hollywood green screen magic, the scenes came alive. But of course, what’s the point of having this awesome photo in your hand and not be able to share it to all of your friends that very second? So SUM Booth had a tablet-based sharing kiosk where guests could go up and post their image on Facebook, tweet it out, text it or email it to themselves (or others), and it was a feature that proved to be very popular.

 

share_castrol

Castrol
If you’ve ever doubted the popularity of soccer in the US, you’ve got to attend some of the games that we’ve worked in conjunction with Castrol. True, the bulk of the games are a part of the nationwide (Olympic gold medal winning) Mexican National Team tour and their legion of fans all over the US, but even Major League Soccer games and events are a spectacle to be seen, as soccer fans are a very unique bunch. Let’s just say they remind us all that fan is short for fanatic. During pregames festivities at all of these games, we work in conjunction with Castrol to promote their brand through a unique offering — trading cards. Fans love it, not only because they walk away with their own trading card in minutes, but let’s face it, they also love it because it’s free. Last year, we implemented a social media aspect to the trading card that gives Castrol more of a presence after the event is over, garnering them additional brand exposure, Facebook likes and Twitter follows. Each card is affixed with a unique code and a site retrieval URL on the back, so guests can access a branded splash page — which automatically redirects to either an English or Spanish version — that displays their card and a variety of sharing options. While this type of online retrieval is nothing groundbreaking, coupling it with the delivery of an actual double-sided trading card to guests at the event itself is somewhat unique, and we’ll gladly say we’re the first and only company to do it — until someone steps up to correct us.

These are just a few different ways SUM Booth brings our unique, custom designed photos to the digital realm — but we aren’t limited to what was described above. For the most part, it’s important to know the goal the client is trying to accomplish. More Facebook likes? Additional brand or promotion exposure? On location data collection? Once we know the goal, we can cater the sharing experience to suit those needs.

Are you looking to bring any of those aspects to your next event? You know where to find us.

We <3 the 80's

nwb13

 

When you’re taking photos at an 80’s dance party, you never really know what to expect. Well, that’s not entirely true, because you know to expect neon — LOTS OF NEON — that is likely sourced from the American Apparel on South Congress. However, outside of neon, it’s a toss up.

At this year’s version of Austin’s New Wave Ball, not only was the neon out in full force, but there were plenty of playful 80’s era costumes as well. There was Robocop, Ghostbusters, and Rainbow Brite. There were pants-less Risky Business types and baggy pantsed MC Hammers, as well as America’s favorite basketball playing werewolf — before werewolfs were cool — Teen Wolf (seen above).

The New Wave Ball has become more and more of an homage to the 80’s era and all of it’s neon goodness — which also raises money for the Austin Children’s Shelter — and those are two things we completely support.

Puppet Dreams

Image

Do you dream of puppets?

Well, Neil Patrick Harris does, at least in his latest web series Puppet Dreams. After working a handful of Nerdist events in the past few months, we were invited to take part in the wrap party for Puppet Dreams, which is among a number of series they distribute to the teeming masses online.

With a series that involves puppets, it’s only right that our photo booth incorporated that aspect as well, and thanks to the Jim Henson Company’s band of puppeteers, that’s exactly what happened. In reality, guests had the option to pose with puppets from the series, or a “digital puppet” of Neil, or both. When it was all said and done, people had a great time interacting with both types of puppets and it made for some really, uh, unique photos.

Nerdist events have always been a blast to be a part of, and we aren’t ashamed to admit that we can’t wait for the next one. Until then..

Image

Prize Fighters

We work a number of sports related events — from large scale events like the Final Four and All-Star Games to private functions with superstars like Alexander Ovechkin — so when we were approached to work at a boxing related event, our ears perked up. When we learned it was a fundraiser for the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation that would take place on the Santa Monica Pier and that Hot Dog on a Stick would be a part of the catering, well, the calendar was pretty much cleared for that date.

The event organizer wanted an “in the ring” scene, so we put together the design you see above and added some sponsor touches (and a hidden SUM Booth logo — can you find it?). Toss in a championship belt, some stylin’ white gloves and an in-ring microphone, and you’ve pretty much set the scene for some fun fisticuff photos.

Casino Royale

Who said dentists don’t know how to party? Actually, I don’t think anyone ever really said that, but let’s dispel that non-existant myth right now.

Case in point: the 2012 Townie Meeting Opening Party at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, which brought together teeth-focused folks from all over America in a James Bond inspired setting. Much to our surprise, the attendees weren’t just there to awkwardly mingle and take advantage of the catering. These people were there to party, and were dressed accordingly in a variety of 007 and spy-related outfits.

Don’t mind Austin Powers though, he just showed up in the hopes of some free dental work.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 166 other followers