Bent Image Lab has just finished production on the first Reese's Pieces ad in more than two decades for Hershey's and agency partner DDB New York. For the CENTER OF ATTENTION CAMPAIGN, it was Bent Image's job to bring to life an action-packed world where the center of the frame always contains a Reese's Pieces candy as the focal point. The style has been done in live action before where camera harnesses lock the person attached to camera in the center of the frame like in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, but this is the first time it's been done in mixed-media or 3D stop-motion animation.
"What a beautiful pain in the ass!" observed partner/co-director David Daniels. "It formed a lot of new connections in our gray matter as we puzzled out the difficulty of locking animated characters to the pre-programmed camera motion and then in relation to the sets and environments."
The 30-second spot begins with Reese's Pieces spilling out onto the lined pages of a school notebook after which a doodled racecar forms around one of them. Suddenly the car speeds off taking the candy with it. Next, the candy is whooshed to a 3D clay-animated world where the candy goes down a peanut butter waterfall and into the waves of a peanut butter sea. Along the way the Reese's Piece encounters a shark, turns into a wrecking ball, floats into orbit, is impaled by a rocket ship and is grabbed by an astronaut. The spot ends with the candy back in the world of the two-dimensional doodles where a live-action boy's hand grabs the candy from the astronaut. The final shot reveals all the doodles from the story on the drawing paper.
"It was our intention from the very beginning to make this commercial a mixed-media extravaganza," explained partner/co-director Chel White. "Of course all those different mediums also made it more complicated. The art direction and design stressed a handmade approach. We made things out of paper, clay and found objects not unlike what a 12-year-old might do we relied on a combination of traditional stop-motion, motion control camera movements, pixilation, collage animation, clay, and computer-generated imagery. Our goal was to make it glide smoothly from one media to another."
White continued to say that most of our stop-motion models were real life objects, including old computer monitors, CD racks, toys, pencils, a tape dispenser, a metal lunchbox and drinking straws. For instance, the rocketship at the end of the spot was made of a light bulb and the end of a pencil. Other object where made out of food -- mainly peanut butter. The puppets were based around aluminum wire armatures and sculpted plasticine clay or Sculpey.
LightWave was used to enhance the animation. Splashes were done in LightWave along with many of the actually Reese's Pieces candies. The doodles were both hand-drawn and computer-generated using Flash MX. Except for the first shot of the paper city, which was shot on a Nikon digital camera, the entire spot was shot on 35mm film using Mitchell stop-motion cameras. For motion control, they used Kuper controlled systems. Post compositing was done in After Effects and Flame. The off-line edit was done in Avid Media Composer and the on-lined in Flame.
Bent Image's crew also included live-action director, Kazuo Ohno, computer graphics designer Adrian Grey, designer/modeler Jake Burgard, and cel animator and graphic designer Pascal Campion.
For more information contact Portland, Oregon-based Bent Image Lab at (503) 228-6206, fax (503) 228-1007 or on the Web at www.bentimagelab.com.