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‘The Whole is Greater’ – Video Breakdown

Posted on Sep 23, 2013 by in Blog |

A number of people have asked me where the idea for the Firefox Flick “The Whole is Greater” came from.  Here you go: More detail than you thought could fit in a 60 second video… or a blog post.


At the beginning of the process, everyone was given a creative brief from Mozilla. You can read the brief here.  Mozilla is in the process of launching a new mobile operating system called Firefox OS.  This launch is an extension of Mozilla’s directive to make the Web available to everyone. The theme of the competition was “Get Mobilized”.   To Mozilla, that means “harnessing the power of the mobile Web to discover new content, exploring how that content connects you to new ideas, and discovering how those ideas can enrich your life.”  To some extent, the creative brief is certainly open to interpretation.  The ideas that stuck out for me were:

• Don’t focus on Firefox, but rather the power and potential of mobile.

• Make it inspiring, dynamic, hopeful and optimistic.

• Your video should talk to ordinary people…(Try thinking of people who aren’t online yet.)

• Together, we can bring the promise of the Web to the next billion people coming online.

Key Points to Communicate

After reading through the creative brief enough times to internalize it (like a hundred), I did a lot of research which introduced me to a number of  concepts that were new to me:  From articles about the Internet of Things to Bono’s TED talk where he mentions that in some countries in Africa, users are keeping tabs on their governments using mobile texting networks.  Combining the research with the creative brief from Firefox here are the points that I felt would be most effective:

1. Mobile has the power to democratize the Web – The Web is not the free, democratic community that we (who are connected to it) assume it is.  Right now, in the year 2013, a little more than 1/3 of the world population is connected to the Web.  That’s it.  The remaining two thirds are not yet connected for a number of reasons, one of the biggest being that it is cost prohibitive.  The price of buying a computer or tablet and connecting to the internet is very high.  Inexpensive mobile devices have the ability to change that.

2. Metcalf’s Law – In layman’s terms Metcalf’s Law says that “the more things that are connected to a network, the more valuable the network becomes”.  In this case, “things” also include people.  This law came about before the internet but it’s being applied to the Web to help forward ideas like the Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything.  I would argue that people are more valuable than other “things” that are connected to the internet because people are active, social, idea-spreaders where as a thing, like a refrigerator or a shirt, just passes information onto the internet where it needs to be processed and analyzed to be of any real use.

3. Once everyone is connected, we can all move forward together – Every person that is connected to the internet brings value to the internet.  It’s shortsighted and obnoxious to think that we, the currently connected, are the only ones with something to share… It’s a two way street.  New connections will benefit from us and we will also benefit from their perspectives and their knowledge.

4.  The Web is too young to know what it is yet – This touches on something that I’ve been pondering for a while, namely that the internet is still very young.  It’s an infant.  And even all of us who are connected don’t have any idea what it’s really going to be.  Everything that we’re doing now is going to be ancient history in the very near future.

Who is the audience?

Now that I know what I want to say, who do I want to say it to?  The creative brief does not specify who the audience is, but obviously it’s a very important question to answer.  Since the video is going to be played (at least mostly) on the web, the target audience is obviously NOT the “unconnected” people of the world.  So in that sense, I see this as a Public Service Announcement.

The decision: The audience is those of us who are currently connected to the Web, the message is awareness of what the Web really is, and the goal is to inspire the viewer to imagine the possibilities that mobile brings to the table.

But wait! There’s more…

Visual Metaphors – The Whole is Greater

According to Aristotle, the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.  So three wheels on a tricycle are more than just three wheels: Together they can move forward.  Red, yellow and blue are more than just three colors: Together they combine to create the millions of colors in the visible spectrum …every color we can see.

TWiG_opening_imageThe Opening Image:  This image was intentionally designed to be unidentifiable.  All I wanted the audience to see was acceleration as the voiceover speaks about speed and connection and how great the internet is.  It’s a setup.  The punchline comes immediately after when we see the contrast between what we think we have and what we actually have.

The Tricycle: While it’s not a perfect metaphor, it’s pretty close.  The tricycle itself is the internet.  Each wheel represents one third of the world population.  The little girl is mobile.  She has the power to bring the unconnected 2/3 of the world to the internet.  When she succeeds, the Web becomes a different thing.  It’s not just one spinning wheel anymore, it is a vehicle that will take us to an unknown welcoming future.

The Colors: The colors are a secondary metaphor.  They’re simply a reiteration of the ‘Whole is Greater’ idea. The little girl is RED, and in the opening, there is already a red wheel on the tricycle.  As the film progresses, she finds a blue wheel in a blue garage, and then a yellow wheel in a yellow room.


The inspiration for this came partially from Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.  As I was planning this short film, I happened to catch Moonrise Kingdom (again). In that film there are frames composed almost entirely of one color.  Perfect!


Did I expect everyone who watched the short film to pick all of this up?  Not at all.  Is it a waste of time?  No.  On first viewing, what’s important to me is that the basic message of awareness and inspiration comes across, and that the film has an emotional effect on the viewer.  In my opinion, everything I spoke about above adds to that effect.  For those who view it more than once there is more to see, more to understand and more to enjoy.

Final Script

If you’ve made it this far, you now know all of the thought behind this 60 second short film.  Below is the final voiceover script from the video.  You can follow along and watch the video here.  Thanks for reading.


The internet speeds connection.  It accelerates learning, creativity, and sharing.

It shines a light on corruption and poverty.

And it drives independence and equality.

The internet is amazing.

Sort of.

The future is out there.  It’s waiting for us.

But the internet is powered by the people who are connected to it and right now that’s only a fraction of us.

Mobile will change that.

Mobile has the power to connect the rest of the world and build an internet that is powered by all of us.

So while we love what we have, it’s only the beginning.

Real connection is out there, and it’s waiting for all of us.


Get mobilized.