ViewPoint Studios and Las Vegas-based The Merica Agency recently teamed up to create a 3D spot for Cox Communications entitled "Desktop Animal." "The idea started with a direct mail piece to sell Direct Internet Access for Cox Communications," said Scott Robertson, creative director from The Merica Agency. The spot features various herds of animals that look like a computer mouse. "We knew and understood the client's concerns," said Mike Leone, lead animator for ViewPoint Studios. "We began by modeling different versions of computer mice to see which forms looked most like the animals we were trying to create. Once we had the basic shape, extensive research was done on each of the animals, how they walked, galloped, or ran, and what their skin textures and muscle structures were like." "The biggest challenge was taking an object such as a computer mouse, which has no joints, and making it move like an animal that is multi-jointed," said David So, ViewPoint Studio's CGI animator. "And, creating the motion so that it's still obvious that this is a 'mouse' behaving as an animal." Once the "animals" were completed their environment had to be designed. According to Leone, "We created a gray scale, black and white background with colorless clouds floating by. Then we added a very non-descript, hilly terrain using textures that were just enough to give an idea of where the hills and valleys were without trying to associate it to any place in particular. The idea here was to keep this a unique, yet clean computer world where these cyber creatures could exist. Also, by not overdeveloping the background, the viewer's attention remains focused on the animals." ViewPoint Studios' team consists of creative director Glenn Robbins; lead animator Michael Leone; CGI animator David So; Flame artists Dave DiNisco and Nathan Walker; and executive producer Dave Shilale.