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Chester Cheetah Cuts Loose In New CG Cheetos Spot

In a new spot for Frito-Lay and agency BBDO, New York, advertising icon Chester Cheetah makes his CG debut, thanks to New York-based VFX company Quiet Man. Titled "Field Trip," the spot marks not only Chester's transformation from traditional cel animation, but also the first major spot in which the character is seen almost exclusively in a live-action environment. In the spot, Chester appears in a classroom as a substitute teacher to introduce Twisted Cheetos. He then takes the kids on a 'twisted fieldtrip" to an amusement park, where they ride a roller coaster that spirals around just like the snack does. Steve Chase of Reactor Films directed the live-action. Dave Shirk, animation supervisor and director of CGI for Quiet Man, was in charge of animating Chester. Shirk mentioned that the studio was aided in its work by David Feiss, the veteran cel animator who has drawn Chester for the past several years. Feiss has worked on numerous TV commercials, and also created the series COW AND CHICKEN for Cartoon Network. "He helped us make sure we had the look just right, and that we were able to straddle the world of 2D and 3D," Shirk said. "The key was getting the right amount of realism to Chester, without losing his cartoony feel." Part of that involved making sure Chester's fur looked absolutely correct, so Quiet Man began animation tests on Chester in summer 2002, utilizing a beta version of Softimage|XSI software. Chester was composited into the live-action footage by Johnnie Semerad, lead flame artist. Agency credits for "Field Trip" go to Michael Patti, senior executive creative director; John Leu, creative director/art director; Eric Van Skyhawk, creative supervisor/art director; Justin Racz, creative supervisor/copywriter; and Alexandra Sterlin, producer. Sherri Margulies at Crew Cuts edited the spot. Additional Quiet Man credits go to animators Boris Ustaev and Fabio Tovar, flame artist Chris Coleman, designer Jason Sienkwicz and technical animator Bradley Gabe. The spot was produced for the studio by Carey Gattyan and executive produced by Amy Taylor.