In Spring 2010, Anthology Marketing Group approached me to create a follow-up TV commercial to the award winning Dinosaurs spot produced the year before for Pearlridge Center. This year, rather than Dinosaurs moving and roaring, they brought in animals from the ice age. Not the movie, the era. Woolly mammoths and sabertooth tigers were the inspiration for our next concept.
As soon as I found out I was a candidate to direct the 2010 Planet Ice exhibit full of creatures that roamed in the ice age I started my brain storming process. The question I kept asking myself was “How do I bring snow to Hawaii, in the middle of summer?” As I was driving down Santa Monica blvd while on vacation with my wife the Snow Globe concept hit me. When we returned home from vacation, I was formally awarded the job and I frantically began my search for “make your own water snow globe” kits locally and online.
The more I brainstormed, the larger the vision for a creating a snowy 3D world in which the main character would interact with the icy creatures of his imagination.
With similar budget constraints as our 2009 project, I knew that an elaborate production would again be impossible but it only fueled my passion to make this project a success. Again I scouted for inexperienced talent and chose to use a private residence to avoid any location costs or film permitting.
One of my first pre-production steps was to secure my 3D talent. Because the 3D on this commercial was much more elaborate than the Dinosaur piece, I reached out to my former animation classmate & co-worker Chris De St. Jeor of Desaint Design. Chris is a lead animator at Dreamworks Pictures and I knew his character design and animation expertise would be perfect for this project.
The first major milestone for us was to create the 3D character models and get them approved by the client which went extremely well. So well in fact that Anthology’s art directors decided to use the characters for the print campaign as well. The only minor struggle we had was creating a sabertooth tiger that didn’t look mean or aggressive. It’s one of those details you need to consider when creating visuals aimed at a very young demographic.
Once the two main models (Woolly Mammoth and Saber Tooth Tiger) were approved, It took them to ProDigital Hawaii, who helped me cut out thermal printed, plexiglass cutouts of the characters which were to be used in the live action. Pro Digital did an amazing job with printing and laser cutting our animals.
I actually got a three for one deal when I casted my talent. Evan’s father David is also a film maker / DSLR shooter and he took on the role of my Camera Assistant and grip on the shoot, which took place in his living room. Talent, crew and location in one place! Now that’s rare.
Though budget stayed roughly the same, our shot list doubled from the Dinosaur spot including a green screen shot for the final composite shot and the 3D work tripled with less crew.
Once the production was done, I began the offline edit process while Chris continued building the 3D world and creating the remaining characters for the scene.
Before I knew it, I was color grading, compositing and rendering the final commercial for broadcast and web distribution.