In its third year, the Hot Spots Showcase, a collection of some of the best animated and visual effects commercials, IDs, PSAs and music videos, has returned. Rick DeMott brings you the best of the best.
Welcome to Hot Spots Showcase 3 Revenge of the Spots. You cant and dont want to TiVo past these spots. Previous Hot Spots Showcases from 2003 and 2004, highlighted the best in visual effects and animated commercials and this year is no different. We put out a call for entries and here weve compiled, in alphabetical order, the best of what we received.
The agencys main concerns were about maintaining the emotion and the storys plausibility, said A52s Tim Bird, who served as the projects co-vfx supervisor along with Pat Murphy. In the end, the technical constraints we faced actually helped us convey those emotions and package the story in a powerful way.
As soon as we heard about the idea, everyone was interested in trying to make it work, Murphy added. The teams enthusiasm proved to be a good omen; the project was officially awarded to them on July 5, only one week before the spot was set to debut. Presented with two sets of stock footage 20-year-old VHS home movies of young Tiger, plus recent NTSC broadcast footage from the British Open A52s exec producer Mark Tobin, producer April Killingsworth, Bird and Murphy orchestrated a round-the-clock operation to meet the deadline.
A52 VFX artists began their work in the companys Discreet Flame and Inferno suites by isolating young Tiger in the home-movie footage. Part of the challenge here was that, in that footage, other people were often in the foreground, partially blocking Tiger, Murphy explained. To heighten the challenge, in several of the shots used from the home movies, young Tiger was wearing different clothes. Having the youth intact and in the proper attire involved a great deal of artistic cleanup and compositing.
Next, although A52s team was provided with some British Open footage that matched the visual perspective of young Tiger in the home movies, they also had to incorporate other stills, the St. Andrews Clubhouse, stands of crowds and other plates to make the scenes work properly. In the British Open footage that was used, the several players also had to be removed before young Tiger could be tracked-in.
As the finished project was conformed in Inferno, Murphy described several steps that were taken to make the overall project match the visual quality of the home-movies. After adding some grain in Inferno, we actually laid the whole project off to VHS, he said. This helped to soften the grain and even out the overall look.
Credits for Nike Golf Kid Tiger A52: Exec producer: Mark Tobin Producer: April Killingsworth Visual effects supervisors: Tim Bird, Patrick Murphy VFX artists: Alicia Aguilera, Eric Algren, Justin Blaustein, Craig Xray Halperin, Scott Johnson, Ben Looram, Ryan Yoshimoto Wieden + Kennedy: Creative director/art director: Hal Curtis Creative director: Mike Byrne Copywriter: Dylan Lee Exec producer: Ben Grylewicz Producer: Andrew Loevenguth Joint Editorial: Exec producer: Patty Brebner Editors: Corky Devault & Peter Wiedensmith Asst. editor: Matt Hilber Music: Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lanes Ooh La La Musical artist: Faces Eleven Sound Studios: Mixer: Jeff Payne
Fun and energetic was the object for award-winning animation house Acme Filmworks, director Dave Wasson and advertising agency Leo Burnett of Chicago. In creating the commercials for the Secret Body Spray campaign, Some Girls was the initial thirty second spot from which two :15 spots Vanilla Sparkle and Tropical Sparkle were produced. The graphic girl designs are based on the Secret Body Spray canister packaging collection. Mamba style music was composed by David Blamires of Steve Ford Music in Chicago and completed before production of the commercials began. Wasson animated to the music track using a combination of traditional and flash animation, applying Flash Macromedia Version 1.2 on a G5 Apple computer to create the snappy retro and contemporary end product.
Credits for Secret Body Spray Some Girls Acme Filmworks: Exec producer: Ron Diamond Senior producer: Holly Stone Director: David Wasson Storyboard artist: Gabriel Swarr Flash animator/lead compositor: Sean Szeles Flash animators: Jezreel Man Carols II, Aaron Horvath, Antonio Mora-Abalor Photoshop artists: Sandra Equihua, Jorge Guiterrez Animatic compositor: Darren Shaw Photoshop assistant: Ryan Whearty Off-line editor/post-production supervisor: George Khair Digital supervisor: Michael ODonnell Network administration/assistant compositor: Scott Coleman Network administration: Kirk Shaffer Leo Burnett/Chicago: Producer: Lisa Muzik, Bonnie VanSteen Exec creative director: Becky SwansonCreative director: Jill Bohannan Art director: Shelley Weakly Copywriter: Chris Thomson Post Logic: Colorist: Mike Underwood Steve Ford Music: Composer: David Blamires Chicago Recording Co.: Audio manager: Mark Ruff Assistant audio engineer: Brent Johnson
The Nexus bus ad that Axis Animation created with Different Ltd. is a great example of the diverse style of animation coming out of Axis Animations studio. Axis teamed up animation director Dana Dorian with talented new designer Andy Fielding to create a commercial that uses a bold visual style to create an intriguing animated world blurring the lines between 2D and 3D animation. Producer Laura Seymour said, Alongside the 3D animation, we employed a Flash animator to provide animation, which was composited onto flat surfaces in a few shots, and the compositing of the commercial utilized shadows and depth of field to help give the 3D feel to a 2D environment.
The strong mix of colors, solid shapes, bold lines and sketched elements reinforces the good versus evil comparison of bus users and car bound commuters. The fantastic characters were created using simple volumes for their heads, bodies and features. Although simple, they are capable of a full range of humorous expressions.
When working on this project, she added, it was good to have a measure of creative freedom granted to us from the agency Different Ltd. We all agree that the end result is an individual and attractive commercial, which we hope might spurn future projects of a similar nature.
Newtek LightWave was used for modeling and animation and Discreet Combustion for compositing.
Credits for Nexus Bus Axis Animation:Animation director: Dana Dorian Producer: Laura Seymour Art director/concept artist: Andy Fielding Music/sound fx: Savalas Client: Different Ltd
Design production company Buck continues to explore new frontiers in television advertising and broadcast network promos with its latest work for gaming channel G4. Buck came up with the concept, created characters and original scripts for four anime spots included in the channels revamped look.
Buck took a humorous approach to the spots, making light of the stereotype that gamers are socially awkward. Biscuit centers on two male teenagers, Bob and Elton, who throw competitive verbal jabs at each other, throwing in some mom and name-calling jokes as they play videogames.
The multi-faceted companys mastery of design has led to work that encompasses TV spots that showcase the companys skills in motion graphics, live action, editorial, writing, design, animation, visual effects, music and sound design.
Effects for the network package were achieved with the use of 3D programs Cinema 4D, After Effects and XFrog. After Effects and Maya were used for the anime spots.
Credits for G4 Biscuit Buck: Creative Directors/designers: Ryan Honey, Orion TaitExec producer: Maurie EnochsonProducer: Nick Terzich2D animation director/illustrator/designer/art director: Thomas SchmidDesigner/3D/art director/compositor: Benjamin LangsfeldDesigner/art director: Yker MorenoDesigners: Andrew Cunningham, Steve Pacheco, Jason WalkerAnimator: Paul Rui2D animators/illustrators: Michael Judge, Adam Greene, Mike Kays, Jeremy PolgarAnimator/3D/Compositors: Jose Fuentes, Patrick Scruggs3D artist: Morgan JamesEditor: Harry WalshMusic/sound design: Christmas JangWriter/actor: Martin SweeneyActor: Tristan Tait
For The Franklin Institutes new Monsters of the Deep exhibition, ad agency Red Tettemer commissioned the folks at the DUMBO-based Dancing Diablo Studio (DDS), which designed and produced a pair of vibrantly-colored, clay animated :15s.
Red Tettemer producer Laura Pappanicholas explained, Although the characters were already developed, as we had designed them for the print campaign, Dancing Diablo brought them to life and took them to places we never could. Their genuine excitement about what they do is evident in every frame and the sets they created are smashing. We looked at a lot of reels and Dancing Diablo was our first choice creatively. They, in turn, loved the spots, had a great deal of enthusiasm, and were a delight to work with. It proved to be a wonderful collaboration.
Dancing Diablo chairman/creative director Beatriz Helena Ramos added, The agency knew what they wanted their characters to look like so we used their designs, tweaked a bit and fabricated the monsters. We had more latitude when it came to creating the sets. For the color palette we played with a nautical theme and wanted the spots to be very playful, yet also a wee bit scary so the lighting is dark and mysterious. We incorporated real toys and a number of painted items which look three-dimensional, all based on weird toys I have collected over the years, which help to create an unfamiliar environment and add a bit of flavor.
Dancing Diablo utilized a high-resolution digital still camera to capture the stop-motion animation, and Frame Thief software. The diver was shot in stop motion against greenscreen, everything else was completed using Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Pro.
Credits for The Franklin Institute Monsters of the Deep Dancing Diablo Studio: Chairman/creative director/director/art director: Beatriz Ramos Set designers/model makers/fabricators: Michael Lapinski, Beatriz Ramos, Eileen Kohlhepp Stop-motion animator: Eileen Kohlhepp Producer: Diego Sanchez Red Tettemer: Producer: Laura Pappanicholas Art director: Steve Thompson Copywriter: Lindy Gross Red Alert: Editor: Chip Schofield Shooters Post & Transfer: Mixer/sound design: Bob Schackner Deca Music: Composer: Patrick De Caumette
Timed to coincide with the opening of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, FlickerLabhad 21 hours to turnaround Save the Republic, a satirical :30 spot for Move On PAC. Fueled by political fervor in partisan blue, the FlickerLab crew was happy to strike a blow against the empire, chortles Harold Moss, founder/creative director.
Animating in a photomontage style, FlickerLab pieced together the lead characters face from various stills along with hand-created elements to create a mask-like visage hiding truths. Still photos depict Washington monuments under attack as lasers spew from space ships encroaching on the Capitol. Hooded marauders march in a rhythmic threat to overtake the empire, in a marvelously illustrated formation achieved in Photoshop and animated in After Effects.
Credits for Move On PAC Save the Republic FlickerLab:Director/editor: Harold Moss Producer: Sally Anne Syberg Associate producer: Franklin S. Zitter Storyboards: Nikolai Nachev Art director: Zartosht Soltani Animators: David Michael Friend, Eric Merola, Chad Redmon FX animator: Robert Jan DeVries Sound Design: Tom Lino Z Creative, New York: Exec producer/creative director: Sarah Callahan Zusi Zimmerman & Markman: Producers/writers: Bill Zimmerman, Pacy Markma
The shoot, which took place in Italy over a week in late 2004, was supervised for Framestore CFC by Ben Cronin and Jake Mengers. Cronin recalls, We shot the station material in Milans Central Station a beautiful 19th century structure and its stockyards. During the exterior sequences, some of which we shot in the hills outside Rome, we were plagued by less than ideal weather conditions, some of which we were able to address in post. The bridge shots, for example, were brightened up by a combination of a pushed grade and some Inferno work. But the final whip-pan across the valley was actually created using a 360-degree sequence of stills we had sent to us from South Africa.
The challenge facing the animation team at Framestore CFC was to create a character who, while essentially 2D, was interacting in a 3D world. This required the construction of two separate rigs, a 2D one and a 3D one for moments when an element of depth was required. We created a low-res version of Hector first, says Nicklas Andersson, lead animator on the project, Which we used to try out walk cycles and other test elements for the creative team. We also shot some hand held camera footage outside our office and put him in it. The biggest challenge was that working in 2D denies you the sense of weight that you can more easily create in 3D. Altogether it took us about six weeks working in Maya to bring Hector to life.
One small detail likely to be lost on people focusing on Hector is that the beetle he rides on briefly is also a CG creation. The incredibly life-like creature was built, textured, rigged and animated in two weeks in Maya by Dean Robinson, using a real (and distinctly smelly) preserved beetle as a model.
Lighting is an essential element in making Hector and his journey believable, and senior technical directors Simon Stoney and Jamie Isles worked hard to create the effects that would place him plausibly in situ. We used the global illumination references that Jake (Mengers) had gathered on location for us, says Stoney, And theyd also place some cut-out paper figures in shots for us. The whole 2D/3D aspect of it made lighting it a real challenge we were basically doing two sets of renders for every shot.
With the prospect of cinema screenings for the spot, the team decided to shoot it all on film, the high resolution offering a more spectacular look on the big screen. Senior colorist Steffan Perry created an original grade and transfer at HD, which was then played out and shot onto 35mm film at Framestore CFCs Video to Film facility. This was TKd once more by Perry, the extra stage offering a further layer of grain to enhance the look of the spot.
Credits for Renault Hectors Life Framestore CFC: VFX supervisor: Ben Cronin Inferno artists: Ben Cronin, Darran Nicholson 3D animators: Nicklas Andersson, Dale Newton, Dean Robinson TDs: Jamie Isles, Simon Stoney Render assistance: Alex Doyle Telecine colorist: Steffan Perry Post-producer: Rebecca Barbour Publicis Conseil: Creatives: Bénédicte Potel, Thierry Lebec Agency producer: Muriel Allegrini Outsider (U.K.) / Bandits (France): Directors: Dom & Nic Producer: John Madsen
We worked with Fallon and Starbucks last summer, and it was a great experience, explains Freestyle exec producer Suzanne Potashnick. They liked the unique attitude we bring to our design and animations, so when a new pair of spots came up in May, they came back to us.
Fallon wanted to incorporate a tie-in to Starbucks print ads, which include very elegant images of mint leaves and chocolate, says Hoon Chang, creative director at Freestyle Collective. We presented a series of boards of varying complexity, and they chose a relatively simple, but elegant look. The biggest challenge was creating CG leaves that would fall realistically. I spent a lot of time with our CG team just watching how things like paper fall gradually and softly to earth. Once we had some solid reference to go on, we used Alias Maya to create the leaves and Adobe After Effects and Photoshop to get the right look.
Credits for Starbucks Come Fly Away Freestyle Collective: Exec producer: Suzanne Potashnick Senior producer: Beth Vogt Creative director: Victor Newman, Hoon Chang Fallon: Producer: Zarina Mak AD: Travis Britton Copywriter: Pierre Lipton
We knew going into the project that it was going to be a really beautiful spot, said Alex Catchpoole, Guavas visual effects supervisor on Safari. The challenge was to get this huge amount of work done in a very short period of time, and to deliver it all in HD.
Guavas work included rotoscoping each animal and digitally combining them into one shot, several bluescreen shots of the hero lion and adding 20 digital feet to the height of a crane shot. An important element of the spot is the Bausch & Lomb contact lens, through which part of the commercial is seen. The lens is also used as a transitional device between shots.
Built as a 3D element, the lens included true optics including refraction, highlight detail and reflections for more realism, while staying true to the clients brief that the lens be crystal clear, said Catchpoole.
Software used included Discreet Inferno and 3ds Max.
Credits for Bausch & Lomb Safari Guava: Visual effects supervisor/artist: Alex Catchpoole Visual effects artist: Amber Wilson Visual effects artist: Aron Baxter Visual effects producer: Charles Self 3D artist: Gavin Guerra Visual effects artist: Mark Wilhelm Rotoscope: Jason Farber, David Piombino Gotham Inc.: Producer: Maureen Phillips Post-producer: Wendy Brovetto, Mathieu Shrontz Group creative director/art director: Carl Ceo Group creative director/copywriter: Monte Mathews Art director: Sean Weber Account director: Kimberly Broatch Account supervisor: Aarti Thiagarajan Account exec: Jena Stadtlander
Its hip to be Square in Wendys break through campaign directed by Hornets Aaron Stewart via McCann Erickson. The national advertising campaign entices people to break from the usual humdrum and choose Wendys for great tasting food. Hornet believes the animation reflects the message with the adventures of Square, a natural leader (inspired by the Wendys square hamburgers) amidst the mass produced circle hamburgers.
Stuck in a Rut is part of a campaign that includes a non-branded :60 video, Followers, sent out as a viral campaign, two :30 spots, three :15s, and a full interactive component via the www.goodtobesquare.com site.
Hornet focuses on finding, developing and supporting great talent. With its talented and diverse team of directors, each contributing a unique style and vision, the companys work is consistently fresh, innovative and fits the clients branding needs.
Credits for Wendys Stuck in a Rut Hornet: Director: Aaron Stewart Exec producer: Michael Feder Producer: Danielle Amaral, Hana Shimizu Animators: William Bredbeck, JJ Caroll Editor: Anita Chao McCann Erickson: VP/exec producer: Kathy Love Senior copywriter: Sharon Ehrlich Senior art director: Daniel Rodriguez Music producer: Mike Boris Evp/cco: Joyce King Thomas Evp/group creative director: Jim McKennan Ohio Edit: Producer: Erica Thompson Editor: Peter Fritz
The 2D animated Campbells kids slurp Chicken Noodle Soup that changes their mouths into a 3D/CG recording studio where noodle rock stars record an album. After their session, relentless noodle paparazzi, cameras flashing, chase them into a limo and up to their penthouse pool of chicken soup filled with noodle groupies.
This is a continuation of a campaign that began with our 2004 SpaghettiOs Mouth Concert spot. This spot combined Director/Artist Paul Demeyers personal line drawing style (see the kids at the spots open) with his design of objects and characters for 3D. The idea of a rock concert inside the mouth of a kid who is enjoying SpaghettiOs was such a success that Campbells decided to extend the approach to its traditional soups, including chicken noodle and tomato.
More songs were composed by Y&Rs creative team. In this spot the reference is rock. Paul worked with our CG team to create the classic feeling of a popular rock band performing and then the antics of the band on the run from its fans and kicking backing in rock star lifestyle. Everywhere possible, chicken noodle soup is featured. Here convincing liquid work was crucial in creating that delicate balance between realism and appetite appeal! Equally, the animators had the task of creating realistic and recognizable body language for noodles! Noodles hang out by a hotel roof pool filled with chicken broth as other noodles marco polo with chicken cubes while still others pirouette off the diving board or lounge reading the trades.
The CG team at ka-chew! is now veteran of several campaigns together and brings innovative design, character animation based on product characters, and high speed action to a higher and higher level throughout this campaign. Here it culminates in a breakthrough kids spot for this Campbells classic.
Credits for Client: Campbells Chicken Noodle Soup Music Video ka-chew!: Sr. exec producer/GM: Richard Marlis Creative director: John Andrews Exec producer: Liz Seidman Director: Paul Demeyer CG director: Bryan Blevins CG lead/supervisor: Forbes Hill CG producer: Sean Lurie 2D asst. director: David Busch Smoke editor: Jesse Morrow Offline editor/post supervisor: Rob Reed CG artists: Grace Dotson, James Parks, Maurizio Giglioli, Jacob Stephens Tom Sorem, Ryan Smith, David Pritchard 2D animators: Ray Smyth, Diana Lebost, Debbie Forster Tech directors: Paul Grant, Katerina Stergiopoulou Y&R NY: Agency creative director: Karen Abada Agency producer: Stacy Kay Agency writer: Nanette Lerner Agency art director: Mary Lou Lane Music producer: Paul Greco
The race sequence is a combination of practical and CG elements, explained KromA visual effects supervisor Bert Yukich. The track itself is real as are some of the cars. Other cars, including often the hero car, are CG. The fans who fill the stadium are also digital additions.
We used the CG cars to do the things that werent safe to do with real cars. We also added cars to the background to fill out the race pack in a way that wouldnt have been practical or safe in production.
For closeups of the hapless man inside the car, the talent was shot in a mock-up of the vehicle against greenscreen. We set views of the track environment into the windows of the car and tracked them to the vehicles motion so that it seems to be traveling at 200 mph.
Software used included Avid DS Nitris and SoftImage XSI.
Credits for Ford Racing Trading Spaces KromA: Visual effects supervisor/compositor: Bert Yukich Exec producer: Amy Yukich J. Walter Thompson, Detroit: Exec creative director: Tom Cordner Director of broadcast production: Carole Gall Creative directors: Mike Prieb, Lauren Crane, Suzanne Sadek, John Godsey Producer: Kelly Trudell Art director: Suzanne Sadek Writer: John Godsey Business manager: Samer Ajluni Account supervisor: Steve Hutchison
Kurtz & Friends
A new Honda campaign Crazy Sensible was born after the creative team at Wieden + Kennedy, London saw the animation reel of Los Angeles based Kurtz & Friends, and were inspired by a piece originally created for George Carlin entitled Its No Bullshit. The approach of this new campaign emphasizes the uniqueness of the Honda Co., its dedication to research and a sense of caring The creative team at W+K wanted to try a different approach to tell Hondas story humor. Since comedy is what we do, it was a great assignment, said Kurtz. Working with Sean Thompson, Chris Groom, Julia Methold, Tony Davidson and Kim Papworth truly spoiled us. It was a lot of fun and a GREAT collaboration. W+K has a reputation for being open to new ideas and that reputation is only strengthened by this new campaign.
Technically, this film is a combination of hand artistry and digital assistance. The animation is hand drawn on paper and then inked onto acetate cells with a Kurtz line that is so wet and loose it can not be duplicated by a computer. All of this information is scanned into Toonz (digital ink & paint and compositing program) and rendered out in a 16x9 aspect ratio. Final editing was done to PAL DigiBeta and the Kurtz designed sound and music was mixed at 25fps. Our editor, Kenneth Smith, shared the narration of Crazy Sensible with Garrison Keillor, Kurtz concluded.
Credits for Honda Crazy Sensible Kurtz & Friends: Director/designer: Bob Kurtz Editor/post supervisor: Kenneth Smith Producer: Boo Lopez Animation: Dave Spafford, Shane Zalvin, Gary Mooney, Pam Cooke Production coordinator: Tim Harringer Ink & paint supervisor: Jennifer Felipe Ink & paint leads: Jackie Gaumer, Debbe Blomdahl Digital FX: Hector Martinez Color design: Gyorgyi Peluce Wieden + Kennedy, London: TV producer: Julia Methold Creative director: Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth Creatives: Sean Thompson, Chris Groom Account director: Francesca Sellars Account manager: Matt Berry
Our challenge was to produce six spots, each with heavy CG in a very short timeframe, said Luma Pictures visual effects supervisor Payam Shohadai. We had just two weeks to turn around the first two spots, Frog and Lion, and had to complete two more spots in each of the following two weeks. That would have been an impossible task for the average boutique vendor serving the commercial market, but Luma, with a staff of 40 and a production pipeline geared for film work, was able to allocate sufficient resources to complete the task.
To create a realistic tornado effect in just two weeks was a monumental task. With six spots to complete, we were forced to deviate from our usual, structured pipeline and revert to a more malleable renegade crew approach.
Software used included Alias Maya, Apple Shake and Autodesk Combustion.
Credits for Nike Basketball Fire Luma Pictures: VFX supervisor: Payam Shohadai Exec producer: Ian Noe Lead VFX artists: Justin Johnson, H. Haden Hammond, Christopher Sage Wieden + Kennedy, Portland: Creative directors: Hal Curtis, Mike Byrne Art director: James Selman Copywriter: Brian Ford Producer: Jennifer Smieja HD cinematographer: Christopher Charles Notorious 24:7: Visual effects artist: Brent Bonacorso
Method, a visual effects artists studio specialized in the production of digital imagery for commercials, feature films and music videos, skillfully created 2D and 3D for Hummer, Chairs.
Method believes for all its spectacular imagery, Chairs is equally remarkable for what one cant see. The H3s implosion was accomplished with minimal CG work, instead Method used an elaborate trussed rig, together with a plethora of wires and tracks.
Everything was shot using high-speed cameras ranging from 150- to 800-frames-per-second, which for Method involved serious amounts of cleanup and rig removal. Doing it all in CG might have saved them some cleanup time, but in the end, Chairs has that extra realism in its reflections and closeups, plus the motion is real and less predictable.
The biggest challenge in post was the marrying of camera takes shot at different times of the day. Method employed the use of 3D to assist in perfecting the overall implosion.
There were times when portions of the imploding Hummer were too heavily obscured by the truss or the other rigging so Method added 3D parts on a case-by-case basis. Method wanted the spot to look as real as possible, so it used 3D sparingly, sometimes filling in pieces and reflections and sometimes doing straight-out replacement.
Technologies used include Discreet Logic Inferno, Alias Maya, Adobe Photoshop.
Credits for Hummer Chairs Method: Lead 2D FX: Russell Fell 2D artist: Andrew Eksner Junior 2D artist: Kyle Obley Lead 3D: Gil Baron, Laurent Ledru 3D artists: James Le Bloch, Jeremy Butler Producer: Kim Wildenburg Exec producer: Neysa Horsburgh @Radical Media: Director: Daniel Askill DP: Toby Irwin Producer: Kathy Rhodes Exec producer: Donna Portaro, Frank Scherma Modernista: Creatives: Gary Koepke, Lance Jenson Agency producer: Charles Wolford Rock Paper Scissors: Editor: Angus Wall Producer: Scott Friske Soundtrack Boston: Music: Paul Oakenfold
We wanted to play on the outrageous lifestyle that shows leading characters actually live, said Dave Thomas, creative director for the project. The campaign was created around an original concept by TLC supervising producer Lara Richardson. The idea was to take a cue from the Esther Williams films of the 1940s, famous for their synchronized swimmers and over-the-top, staged productions. It was the basis of the Agents campaign, which promoted a show where every deal is a big production.
Credits for TLCs Million Dollar Agents Promo Creative director/live action director: Dave Thomas Exec producer: Teresa Antista Editor: Todd Bush Animator: Mike Navarro Producer: Scott Ludden DP: Jim Belkin Production designer: Peter McKeon Wardrobe: Erin Topaz Lareau Make-up artist: Tom Rogers Colorists: Sparkle 1st AD: James Heth
The Forty-Fives video, Superpill incorporates some of Primal Screens strongest traits mixing animation with live action and original character design. The video for the Forty-Fives, a local Atlanta garage band, features the band invading the drive-in and dispensing musical medicine with the help of an animated superhero vixen.
Primal Screen which has been creating broadcast design, animation and sound design, as well as directing and shooting live-action film and video for 10 years combined live action, graphic design and cel animation in the video.
Superpill was shot on both 35mm and HD. The footage was edited using Final Cut Pro. Design and compositing was done in After Effects. The cel animation was hand drawn, inked then scanned and painted in Photoshop.
Credits for Forty-Fives Superpill Primal Screen: Directors: Tripp Rhame, Rick Newcomb Animation director: Ward Jenkins Creative director: Doug Grimmett Producers: Hunter Matheson, Jim Threlkeld Exec producer: Susan Shipsky
I think our Singin' in the Rain spot with GE really captures what Quiet Man is all about the ability to combine the aesthetic and technical aspects in an organic way. In this spot, we put our 10 years of know-how to create a 100% CG elephant. I suppose our biggest challenge was making the animal real. It was a labor-intensive process in which we had to study live elephants to create something that moved and looked like the real thing, except we added a touch of animation by exaggerating some of his facial features. The elephants eyes were slightly larger and more dilated than in real life to create a more emotional model. We are very happy with how the elephant came out and in our ten years of being in the industry, we truly feel that this is one of the spots that describes to a T what we do best. Amy Taylor, exec producer/co-founder.
Credits for GE Singin in the Rain Quiet Man: Exec producer: Amy Taylor, Steve Holiner Animation/fx director: Johnnie Semerad CG supervisor: Kris Rivel Asst. set supervisor: Dave Bernkopf Inferno effect artists: Steve Koenig, Kim Harvey, Karen Huston, Charles Quinn, Chris Coleman, Peter Sidoriak, Lauren Hanson Lead animators: Boris Ustaev, Anderson Ko Animators: Sandor Toledo, Sam Curtriss, Chip Lotierzo, Michael Lasker, Steve Parish BBDO: Director/DP: Joe Pytka Creative director: Don Schneider Producer: Rachel Seitel Music producer: Rani Vaz Art director: Ted Shaine Exec producer: Regina Ebel Copywriter: Tom Darbyshire Account person: Elizabeth Daggett Crew Cuts: Editors: Sherri Margulies, Matt Shapiro
In a methodology pioneered by Renegade, the studios animation team produced the two characters in the spot as cel animation. Flash was used to produce props and background environments and to composite the elements together. Ink-and-paint work on the characters was also done in Flash. The process yields significant time and cost savings. It also offers unique creative advantages. In Yard Sale, Renegade artists used Flash to apply a design aesthetic reminiscent of the classic UPA cartoons of the 1960s, in which environments were often rendered as simple geometric shapes. Using Flash the way it does also enables Renegade to make quick alterations. For Sonnys mad scene, for example, animators were able to quickly try out a variety of devices to suggest the birds delirious state of mind. Ashley Postlewaite
Credits for Cocoa Puffs Yard Sale Renegade Animation: Director: Darrell Van Citters Exec producer: Ashley Postlewaite Designers: Mike Giamo, Frank Montagna Technical director: Nate Pacheco Animators: Scott OBrien, Bert Klein, Will Finn Ink & paint: Anne Walker Color: Julia Calantarava Production manager: Peggy Regan Saatchi & Saatchi, New York: Copywriter: Erik Mintz Art director: Pat Giles Producer: Hafeez Saheed
We produced three spots for Mayfield Dairy [via agency The Johnson Group of Chattanooga] that cleverly show how the cream really does rise to the top by creating the illusion of ice cream that defies the laws of gravity, explained R!OT Atlanta creative director Jeff Doud. In order to make the spots seem as real as possible our clients insisted on using real ice cream and product packaging. To make that possible we created the floating ice cream through a combination of puppetry and digital effects. We shot the product elements against bluescreen, separate from the talent, using puppeteers to mimic the appropriate actions. That provided the raw materials our visual effects team in Atlanta needed to animate the products and integrate them with the live action.
Software used included Discreet Smoke and 3ds Max.
Credits for Mayfield Dairy Farms Freezer R!OT, Atlanta: Creative director: Jeff Doud Editor: Carlton Eden Visual effects artist: CE Raum Original music/sound design: Chris Basta
R!OT Santa Monica
Working directly with NetZero, R!OT designed, produced and post-produced by digital artists this campaign, explained R!OTs Tim Conway, who served as director and visual effects supervisor. We initially produced animated storyboards of the spots and, once they were approved it, previsualized the two :30 spots in 3D. As those spots required live action elements to be shot with motion control rigs, the previz material allowed our team to plan camera positions and movement.
On the set, we exported all of the moves into the motion control rig and work with great efficiency. We shot 14 motion control moves in two 10-hour days. The camera data was exported from the rigs for use by our 3D team.
Having a single team oversee the project from the conceptual phases through final post resulted in time and cost savings. Whenever we had an idea we were able to take it directly to our client and discuss it. It was between NetZero and R!OT with nothing in between and it worked great. Whenever you work directly with the artists who are actually doing the work, the results are going to be better, said Conway.
Credits for United Online / NetZero Evolution R!OT, Santa Monica: Director/VFX supervisor: Tim Conway Producer: Terry J. OGara Associate producer: Tom M. Slovick Exec producer: D. Todd Davidovich Lead compositor: Claus Hansen Compositors: Chris Howard, Wensen Ho CG supervisor: Marcus LeVere CG artists: Andy Wilkoff, Richard Wardlow, Juan Rubio, Dave Carlson, Shuichi Suzuki Matte painter: Yann Mallard United Online: Exec producer/creative director: Dee Guzzi Art director: Bry Antonio Producer: Erika Miller
Rick DeMott is the managing editor of Animation World Network. Previously, he worked in various production and management positions in the entertainment industry. He was a contributor to the animation history book Animation Art as well as the humor, absurdist and surrealist short story website Unloosen.