CRASH+SUES’ Whimsical Hand-Drawn Animation Interacts With Live-Action Footage
Press Release from CRASH+SUES
Minneapolis -- Enthusiastic fans of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves are an animated bunch, but even they were surprised to see themselves rendered as naive line art in a series of four whimsical, hand-drawn animated spots created for the team by CRASH+SUES for Hunt Adkins/Minneapolis.
Animators Sean Hall and Matt Sattler crafted the scenarios and characters that appear over the shoulder of David Kahn, Minnesota Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations, who speaks to camera about his basic goals for the team. The animation provides a light-hearted contrast to Kahn’s plans to build the Timberwolves franchise into a perennial NBA Championship contender.
“Hunt Adkins had examples of animation they liked and wanted a hand-drawn look for the scripts and scenarios which were all different and a lot of fun,” says Sean Hall. “With a tight turnaround of only a week or two per spot, using hand-drawn animation allowed us to be very efficient without compromising quality.”
In “Kahn on Making Big Moves,” whose title appears in animated outline type, the hand-drawn animation illustrates Kahn’s key team building points in innovative ways.
“You have to be willing to take a risk now and then,” he declares as an animated, line-art motorcyclist zooms off a ramp and sails over the top of the pyramids. “Don’t look past the opportunity to add somebody of very special value and quality to the team,” he advises as an animated Wolves 2.0 robot blocks his opponent’s shot with rays that shoot from his eyes and dissolve the player.
The promise of affordable season tickets populates the screen with animated fans who cover everything but Kahn’s face. And Kahn’s vow to build “a place where other teams don’t want to come to play” prompts dark clouds, lightning and rain to move in over the arena where a dejected-looking animated play on the court is menaced by a giant wolf figure that emerges from the stands and causes the player’s head to explode and body crumble.
“Kahn on Hard Work” takes a more interactive animated approach with Kahn. “You don’t become a championship ball club by accident,” he says as a trophy falls on the head of an animated player. “It comes with a lot of late nights, and a lot of caffeine in my case,” he explains as an animated nurse rolls a giant coffee-cup IV onscreen and plugs the tube into Kahn’s sleeve.
The tube bulges as it pumps caffeine into the exec who continues to chat about hard work, discipline and preparation. A line-drawn skinny arm emerges from Kahn’s shoulder and reaches for a bar bell; as the arm pumps iron a feeble muscle grows strong.
“Kahn on Getting Better” summarizes the promise of the team and the potential championship seasons to come with an animated cap that spills money over Kahn’s head; an antique auto that transforms into a vintage racer, a sleek sports car and a flying saucer that zooms away; and a pressure cooker whose gauge reaches the danger zone before exploding and showcasing a trophy.
Finally, “Kahn on Style of Play” spotlights head coach Kurt Rambis’s collaborative approach to play with animation that contrasts animated players performing show-off moves, like one-finger ball spins and acrobatics with two players gracefully leaping and pirouetting as they toss the ball to each other. “It’s a beautiful style of play when the ball is moving,” says Kahn.
Each spot concludes with a 3D-animated end tag created by Alex Engelmann in CRASH+SUES Autodesk Maya. Based on a print illustration with a puzzle motif, the screen fills with puzzle pieces that form the bold animal-head Timberwolves.com logo.
The line animation was drawn by Hall and Sattler and cleaned up in Adobe Photoshop and scanned into After Effects. Eric Schwalbe cut Kahn’s live-action footage, provided by the Timberwolves; Mark Anderson composited Kahn’s clips and the animation in Autodesk Smoke.
CRASH+SUES sister company, Echo Boys, performed the sound design and mix, amping up the spots with sounds of cheering crowds, ball bounces, a storm, robot noises, explosions and more.