VIKKI: They’re so expressive. You just can’t
believe it. GK: The primates are so real and so close
to us. This is G.K. and Vikki Hart. They’re the husband
and wife stock photography team behind those great office baboons you’ve probably seen online
over the past year. Those video clips that, oddly enough, seem
to perfectly illustrate the subtle emotions of everyday human life.
Like when you’re in a meeting that was called in order to plan another meeting. Or when the recipe calls for ground rose petal and grape molasses. Or when your boss emails to ask if you can work on Saturday. The Harts couldn’t have predicted that their work would become prime fodder for animated gifs because they filmed the baboons 13 years ago. That was before the birth of twitter, tumblr, and reddit. This is what the internet looked like 13 years
ago There were animated gifs back then but they looked
like this. The Harts just thought it’d be fun.
VIKKI: We’ve been working with animals for ages. GK: And the great thing about the animals
is they’re universal, and so people love them everywhere. Their images go onto greeting cards, books,
ads. And before the internet found the baboons, they appeared in a Steve Carell movie. VIKKI: And it’s so funny, we go to the movie
and we sit and watch it and we go ‘Oh, it’s our baboons! It’s our baboons!’ and everyone thinks we’re crazy. “He’s eating paper!” It wasn’t until April 2014 that digital
artist Steph Davidson came across the baboons while looking for stock footage and she made a
gif for her tumblr. Then, a year later, the baboons really took
off on twitter. The Harts spent about a month preparing for the shoot. They made special baboon-sized props
like the newspaper and rigged up the chairs so they could turn them by pulling a wire. The trainers for the 3 baboons involved in
the shoot knew in advance which behaviors they would need, like typing and holding phones.
GK: And then the best stuff was the stuff that we never expected. And those are always
the fun takes. The one who ate the paper…that was 100%
baboon improv. And so was this. VIKKI: It was a brand new laptop! GK: And I still remember looking through camera and thinking oh no! And i’m so glad I kept the film rolling
or I would have missed the whole thing. That pile of money was real too.
GK: A few hundred dollars and it was pretty well torn up by the end of the shoot. So we
have some souvenirs. The baboon video clips are managed by Getty
but the Harts own the copyright. Still they’re refreshingly relaxed about the unlicensed
use of their work. VIKKI: Sure it would be nice if they made more money but to make people laugh and for people to take it and use it their own way — you just can’t buy that. I just wanted to give a shoutout to Melvin Backman. He interviewed the Harts back in September, which is how I found their names. I also wanted to one of my favorite baboon clips which isn’t part of the office baboons series, but was filmed by G.K. and Vikki on the same day. It’s a baboon in a chef hat.