yU + co has designed and produced a television advertising campaign for Turner Network Television in support of TNT and CNN/SI coverage of WUSA, the women's professional soccer league. Directed by yU + co creative director Garson Yu, the campaign launches with a 60-second television spot in which soccer stars Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy and Brianna Scurry morph into animated superheroes. Conceived by TNT On-Air Creative, the campaign employs the theme "WUSA on TNT: Every Player a Superhero." The promo opens on an animated soccer ball as it rockets out of the sky, trailing flames, into an animated soccer stadium. The live-action figures of the women soccer stars are revealed inside the stadium; when these players come in contact with the ball, they are magically transformed into animated superhero characters. The animation is executed in the style of a comic book-come-to-life with stylized, vibrantly colored backgrounds, bold, sharply drawn characters and poppy graphics. The soccer players attack the ball as if they were defending the earth, flying through the air and executing ever more boggling leaps and kicks. The piece wraps with a hero shot of the women -- returned to their normal forms -- posed under the campaign tagline. yU + co designed the commercial and produced the live-action, oversaw the animation, provided 2D and 3D visual effects, and managed the spot's post-production. Garson Yu directed the soccer stars, shot against greenscreen on a stage at Hollywood Center Studios. yU + co selected Mike Smith of Wild Brain to direct the animation. Smiths credits include animation sequences for TANK GIRL and NATURAL BORN KILLERS. "Although this was a new experience for the women, they came into the project with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm," said yU + co executive producer Jennifer Fong. "Garson made them feel at ease and helped them to understand what we needed them to do and how it would work in the finished product. They performed flawlessly." The most challenging phase of the project was post-production, as yU + co designers and artists worked to integrate the live-action and animation elements. The morph sequences required especially careful work because the animation had to be precisely conformed to the live-action forms of the athletes. The multi-faceted, transitional effects -- such as bolts of electricity -- added make it appear as though the women are changing form. "It is fairly common to composite animated elements into live-action environments, but here we were doing exactly the opposite -- we were placing live-action characters into animated environments and we needed to make them appear to belong there," explained Fong. "Our compositors had to track the live-action with the backgrounds, mimic the camera moves and color-correct the live elements to match the sharp lighting and saturated look of the backgrounds." yU + co 2D and 3D visual effects artists contributed numerous elements to the mix, including the 3D animated flaming soccer ball that mimics the style of the cel work. The studio's design team created the titles whose bold, block forms are inspired by comic artwork. For more information visit www.yuco.com.