Which came first: the idea or the egg? The question isn’t as mind-bending as its chicken vs. egg predecessor, but Charged Studios’ skewed artistic sensibilities, appreciation of the absurd and ability to create a visual story with style and wit is.
Press Release from Charged Studios
New York: Which came first: the idea or the egg? The question isn’t as mind-bending as its chicken vs. egg predecessor, but Charged Studios’ skewed artistic sensibilities, appreciation of the absurd and ability to create a visual story with style and wit is. The award-winning animation, VFX and live-action company’s director Adam Pierce and his team recently produced “Vertigo Egg,” one of the animated intros for the Ad Council’s 57th Annual Public Service Award Dinner. The Brooklyn-based firm took the project from concept through design, animation, stop-motion production, editing, compositing original music and sound design, with a collaborative, one-stop approach guided by Pierce’s creative vision.
So which came first? In this instance, it was the egg - starting as an innovative idea from McCann Erickson. The global agency approached Charged with a story about an egg falling off a wall and being saved at the last minute by a sponge. Charged stepped between those lines, and emerged with a conceptual visual approach to bringing the idea to life: a Hitchcock-homage tour through the psyche of an egg faced with a harrowing choice: death by beater, or attempt to escape by taking its chances with a Humpty Dumpty-like fall from the kitchen counter.
“Vertigo Egg” introduced the safety category of the awards show with a mix of stop-motion animation and slow-motion footage shot by DP Chadwick Davidson with his Red camera system. Led by producer Mike Landry, who worked closely with associate producer Justin Herman, the team designed, built and dressed a full-scale kitchen set at Charged Studios in under a week; then shot the action frame-by-frame, continuing the animation process with visual effects that were applied to each frame, angle and shot, giving everything a buff and a polish.
“One of the challenges was importing the still frames from the Red into our animation software,” explains Pierce. “But the beauty of it was the ability to shoot the slow motion footage and the animation with the same lens and at the same 2K resolution allowing us to create a seamless visual transition between the two. This had to look awesome. We knew the ’Red‘ could handle the job but we were blown away by the end results.”
Davidson deftly captured the Hitchcock aesthetic by employing lighting and effects that foreshadow the action. Production designer Kevin O’Donnell created a monochromatic world for the egg, which gave the feel and tension of black and white film within a contemporary aesthetic, that, when combined with Davidson’s lighting, really hit the mark.
Elaborate rigging was key to the process – and was no small feat when one considers that an egg’s oval shape isn’t naturally conducive to conveying a real sense of movement and character. Adam worked with stop motion animator Peter Blank, who skillfully brought an ordinary egg to life, with a full-blown character, chock full of emotions.
Pierce notes, “The opening dream sequence created by editor Andy Harmon, was essential to the storyline. I showed him the dream sequence in the original film and told him to have fun with it, and he really nailed it.”
Pierce developed the aesthetic and tone of the piece and worked closely with his creative and technical team to bring the idea to life. He was involved in every phase of the production process: from concept to final delivery, right down to performing the voice of the egg and establishing the feel of the music, which was composed by Charged Studios’ resident composer and sound designer, Daron Murphy.
“From the very inception of the project we know that the music would be integral to the success of the piece,” notes Pierce. “Daron did an amazing job creating a score that brings the tension and anxiety to the Egg’s dangerous journey to the spots’ soundtrack.”
McCann Erickson producer, Jessica Friedman, noted, “We were thrilled when Charged expressed their interest in our project. They came on board very enthusiastic, and executed the idea beautifully. It was a great experience working alongside with them on this project, and we look forward to more opportunities in the future.”
“McCann Erickson really trusted us to take their idea and gave us a lot of freedom to run with it,” adds Pierce. “They’re one of the biggest and best agencies out there, so it was an honor to work with them. They really let us stretch our creative legs.
“Knowing that this would be viewed by an audience of advertising executives – and serve as an introduction to some of the Ad Council’s best spots, inspired us to take this to the next level,” says Pierce. “Our goal was to introduce the safety category of commercials with a creative piece that conveyed the essence of the category’s theme with simplicity and humor. The reaction to the piece has been extremely positive so we feel really good about the work we put into it. We had a blast!
About Charged Studios: Charged Studios has been bringing wit, originality and punch to the art of visual storytelling—through a mix of animation, puppetry, live-action and visual effects—for over 10 years. Our open-architecture design, CGI, live-action production, editorial, music and sound studio is a creative haven for a diverse mix of collaborative artists with a shared passion for creating fresh, compelling spots that exceed client expectations and push the envelope. www.charged.com.
CREDITS:Title: “Vertigo Egg” :45Category: Animated ShortClient: The Ad Council
Agency: McCann EricksonProducer: Jessica FriedmanSVP Group Creative Directors: Robert Frost, Michael Raso
Animation/Production Company: Charged StudiosDirector: Adam PierceProducer: Mike LandryAssociate Producer: Justin Herman DP: Chadwick DavidsonLead Animator /Compositor: Peter Blank Compositors: Alex Perlman, Eric Rothman, Adam Miller, Melissa Loyola
Music + Sound Company: Charged StudiosComposer: Daron Murphy