Frog/Idol by SimEx. Image courtesy of SimEx.

Seeing Spots. The adventures of Toucan Sam continue in a :30s spot made by SimEx Digital Studios for Leo Burnett/Chicago. The spot, entitled "Frog/Idol," promotes Kellogg's Marshmallow Blasted Froot Loops. "Frog/Idol" is a continuation of last summer's "Marshmallow Temple/Extreme Adventure." In it, Toucan Sam falls through a temple floor into an underwater cavern. There he discovers an enormous frog idol, and swims into its mouth. Once he surfaces, a multitude of frog marshmallows jump toward him. The spot uses a number of techniques. First, SimEx combined live-action water elements with those created on the Avid Media Illusion. They also used distortion plug-ins for the Media Illusion, as well as proprietary shaders by Alias/Wavefront. Leo Burnett/Chicago's creative team includes: Creative Director Peter Lohmeier, Senior Producer Ken Gilberg, Senior Account Executive Gabrielle Guimond, Account Executive Tolani Ogunleye, and Production Manager Veronica Puc. SimEx Digital Studios' team includes Visual Effects Supervisor/Artist Nick Bates, Animation Director Jean Maxime Perramon, Executive Producer George Mendoza, Producer Krista Kilmer, and Production Coordinator Christina Cox. 3-D Animators were Jeff Chung, Alex Warner and Spencer Levy. Eric Myers served as Editor and Cel Animation Assistant Director. 2-D cel animation was completed by Roberto Casales. . . Hollywood-based Class-Key Chew-Po Commercials, in conjunction with Ogilvy & Mather, has created the newest Cocoa Pebbles cereal spot starring Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. The :30s commercial, directed by Raul Garcia, features a traditionally-drawn Fred and Barney placed in a computer-generated 3D video game environment, and eventually jumping into a live-action setting. The video game environment and other characters were created in Maya NT software. The 2D and 3D live action were combined using both Flame and Toon Boom software. The spot was executive produced by Paul Babb (Ogilvy & Mather), along with Liz Seidman and John Andrews (Class-Key-Chew-Po). . . . The Ink Tank has produced "Hockey Monkey," a mixed-media music video for Nickelodeon's Ka-Blam!, which will air this spring. The 1-minute, 30-second piece follows a group of live-action adults who are in search of a monkey. Unbeknownst to them, the animated monkey is in an ice hockey match with a group of cut-out animated kids. For The Ink Tank, R.O. Blechman was creative director; Brian O'Connell, executive producer/co-director; Jesse Gordon, live-action director/cameraman; Maciek Albrecht, cut-out designer/director of animation; Tissa David, cel animator; Alexandra Reshanov, cut-out animator and David Courter, After Effects/compositor. Nickelodeon credits include executive producers Bob Mittenthal, Chris Viscardi, Will McRobb and Mike Rubiner. The music was composed and performed by The Zambonis who also appear as the video's adult characters, while the Hockey Monkey was designed by comic artist James Kochalka. . . . The San Francisco office of Curious Pictures has created a pool of five spots for Round Table Pizza through Wieden & Kennedy (Portland, OR). There are four :15s spots - "Steam Dance," "Rooster," "Full," and "Freedom of Speech" - along with a :30s spot, "Tornado." The commercials were directed by Michael Bade and designed by Seattle-based alternative cartoonist Peter Bagge (Hate), marking his first foray into both animation and television. Featuring various characters, the commercials guarantee the pizza lover's right to have fun while eating Round Table's pizza. "When I first saw the boards I immediately thought of Bagge, one of my comic book heroes..." said director Bade. "The creative collaboration was wonderful. We streamlined the stories and created the expressions and gags for the animations. Since these were :15s, we approached the spots with a 'Bazooka Joe' comic kind of simplicity - set up the joke, tell the joke, and then kick 'em in the butt." The spots' co-executive producers were David Starr and Richard Winkler; Nick Hewitt was the animation director. Representing Wieden & Kennedy were producer Arrow Kruse and creative director Jim Riswold. . . . San Francisco-based Radium has animated more than a half-dozen 3D computer-generated building block characters for "Toys," a national television spot promoting Wrigley's Juicy Fruit Gum. Conceived by BBDO (Chicago, IL), the :30s spot revolves around a group of toy figures that spring to life in pursuit of the sweet taste of Juicy Fruit. The commercial blends 3D animation, 2D effects, live-action and cel animation. Radium created the tiny plastic block characters as 3D elements. Afterwards, cel animated facial expressions, produced by Celluloid Studios (Denver, CO), were texture-mapped onto the 3D models by compositors at Radium. William Opdyke was director of computer graphics and Dana Townsend was Radium's executive producer. . . .

Image Courtesy of Helium Productions, Inc and Two-Headed Monster.

Marketing and communication company Pittard Sullivan (Culver City, CA) engaged Simex (Santa Monica, CA) to help create a new full-motion, computer animated logo to accompany all of King World's programs. The animated logo features a star burst animated in Alias|Wavefront PowerAnimator. From Pittard Sullivan, Reid Thompson directed, and Jim Capp and Debra Kaufman produced. Nick Bates was the visual effects supervisor and George Mendoza was the executive producer at SimEx Digital Studios. . . . A team from Helium Productions, Inc. and Two Headed Monster has created a new computer animated spot for Starburst which immerses the viewer in a simulated water environment designed for absolute believability. The animators used SGI Octanes, Side Effects' Prisms, and Pixar's Photorealistic Renderman software to create the realistic physics of water splashing and swirling. At Helium Productions, John Scheafer was creative director. At Two Headed Monster Christopher Willoughby was creative director and Ruth Schiller produced. The agency was Grey Advertising/NY with Aaron Royer as producer. . . . If you live in the US, keep an eye out for the Aardman Animations Miniwheats cereal commercial featuring Mr. Miniwheats, with animation directed by Darren Walsh. In the UK, also from Aardman, Snap, Crackle and Pop can be seen advertising Kelloggs Rice Krispies, with animation directed by Chris Lyons. . . . Topix/Mad Dog has completed the animation for "Stick People," a :30s spot, with a :15 lift. The colorful, playful spot, which promotes Crayola Color Wipeoffs, removable water-based magic markers, for TBWA/Chiat Day (Toronto, ON) and Binney & Smith Canada (Markham, ON), rolled out throughout Canada March 15th and will continue to air through the end of the year. In it, a boy's stick figure drawings come to life. "With Photoshop I drew the figures, frame by frame, so that it's a bit like cel animation, but not quite," explained TOPIX/Mad Dog Director of Animation/Animator Fay Grambart. "Once the figures were drawn, I rendered them in 3D Studio Max." Patrick Coffey composited, integrated the live-action and animation, added shadows where appropriate, and created the transition wipe from the story to the product shot. The live-action was lensed by MAXX Films (Toronto, ON) with director Larry August, Executive Producer Harve Sherman, and Producer J.J. Lyons participating. The offline editorial was handled by David Hicks of Panic & Bob (Toronto, ON). David Fleury of David Fleury Music (Toronto, ON) created the musical underscore, sound design and also engineered the spot at Manta/Eastern Sound (Toronto, ON). . . . Tricky Pictures has created "One and Only," a promo for the new Noggin TV network. Noggin is an educational channel that is a joint venture between Nickelodeon and Children's Television Workshop, and is currently subscribed to by nearly two million homes. The spot uses mixed-media and incorporates faces of real children with painted bodies in an outer space scene where the Noggin logo doubles as a planet being explored. The kids plant a flag on the planet, which doubles as a face. Ann Marie Fleming designed and directed. Robert Coddington composited the digitally photographed frames and added atmospheric effects.

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