HBO hired Venice, California-based design/production house twothousandstrong (www.2000strong.com) to produce an elegantly designed :60 retrospective promo spot. YEAR-END PROMO, broke during the premiere of ANGELS IN AMERICA, focuses on HBO's acclaimed series' THE SOPRANOS, SIX FEET UNDER, SEX & THE CITY and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM.
"This was a different spot for us," says twothousandstrong creative director Craig Tozzi. "HBO had done a nearly complete edit of the footage that they wanted included in the spot, but they need a concept and set of graphics that would tie it all together. That's where we came in."
What ultimately ties the footage together is striking shots of parting clouds against a night sky. The clouds first part to reveal just "2003" before displaying footage from the network's most popular shows. Scenes from SEX & THE CITY are followed by clouds parting to display text reading "Go Wherever We Go" before moving on to scenes from SIX FEET UNDER, THE WIRE and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM before another bank of clouds reveal the words "Go Wherever It Takes You." Moving from the past to the future, scenes from the new HBO series DEADWOOD, the much-anticipated new season of THE SOPRANOS and the red carpet from the premiere of ANGELS IN AMERICA are displayed before another set of clouds ask viewers to "Let Us Take You There."
"We were looking for a very filmic, organic look for the cloud formations," explained Tozzi. "For that reason, we decided against creating them digitally and opted for a more traditional approach."
From that decision ensued an intense period of messy experimentation, or what Tozzi called "Chemistry 101" at twothousandstrong. Using a cloud tank - a device in which pressurized water and chemicals are used to create actual clouds - the twothousandstrong team experimented with various solutions to create different type of cloud formations.
"It we tried just about every combination," says Tozzi. "We used sorbitol, glycerol, soluble oils, heavy cream, etc. and so on, just to try and get the effect we were looking for. The results from these experiments were captured on DV, which allowed us to pre-build the graphics into the edit and provide the client with a clear idea of what could be done. These tests also provided us with definitions of frame rates, lighting, angles and lens for the actual film shoot. The resulting film is really beautiful and certainly the most zen-like film element I've ever shot."
While creating the perfect cloud required all manner of chemicals, Tozzi and his creative team utilized AVID|DS to create the composites that provided the final imagery, as well as SOFTIMAGE|XSI for some extra fog and smoke.
Founded in 1996 by Tozzi, twothousandstrong is a leading multimedia design/production company providing creative services to television networks, advertising and corporate projects. The company specializes in 2D and 3D animation, film production, editorial and music direction.