Shilo Plays a Perfect Hand with “Blackjack”


Shilo’s “Blackjack” for Cingular is an utterly flawless piece of work. The animation and camera work are dazzling, while a counter-balancing force of restraint keeps the spot sophisticated and dead sexy.

“Blackjack” reminds me of the Motion Theory “Hands” campaign for HP without being derivative. MTh’s work borders on baroque, brimming with sumptuous details. Shilo’s spot is more an exercise in form and rhythm—a kind of visual fugue, if you will allow me to be even more pretentious than I already am.

Shilo, incidentally, is part of a powerhouse roster of talent that will be presenting at SCAD’s Inspire 07, a conference I’m helping to organize this coming February. Stay tuned here for more details.

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



i hate to put a damper on this…but does anyone else think this ‘wowee zowee’ piece lacks a bit of pacing in animation? feels sluggish.

while MT’s is more of a tracking hurdle, and thus incomparable; *they* nailed it. kudos.


Inspire 07′ intriguing. Anywhere we can follow updates on this as it develops?


wonder why they went for the 3D hands?


There will be an Inspire 07 site up soon. I can tell you this, though: Our confirmed speakers so far include Shilo, Psyop, Exopolis and Trollback.




i agree. leaves me cold. would have been better if they had just used a real person. I dont think this will connect. the 3d could have been rendered better. it just feels like a video game and not warm/human.


Yeah, I thought the same. Overall nice spot but they missed the mark on the hands. The bad lighting and texturing stick out too much.

Despite that, very well done.


Grats to Shilo on delivering an awesome spot, as always you guys are striking the perfect balance between impact and finesse.




Great job!

Wheres THA-DON these days?


It’s elegant. The Ambient Light is Perfect. This project has other concept than HP. I think that there are not comparation because the CONCEPT is different, the client is different (it’s only my thought).
I like those Blackjack hands.
It’s Darky.


that ish is nasty!


Does anyone know who plays the music for the Blackjack commercial?

Sir Monkey

At first, I wanted to bash ESC about the “hands” remark because for me, after viewing the low-res quicktime I thought it was a great piece. I loved the camera movements, the lighting and the music, but then last night I just saw the commercial on my HD tv, holy shit, it seriously is creepy. I couldn’t get past the hands. I went from loving the spot to thinking it’s one of the creepiest commercials I’ve ever seen. There are sections of the animation where the hands look like the hands from the opening title sequence to the movie “Seven”, no joke.

This does open a bigger issue, I seriously think design studios should stay away from realistic character animation. It’s been done a number of times by some of the best studios out there and every time it’s done, it looks awful.

What does everybody else think about this issue? Or have you seen a project that successfully uses realistic character animation?


whats wrong with creepy? the project was surely done to cingulars happieness…..i wasnt troubled by this piece….


agreed, sirmonkey

there’s a reason why the companies under ‘vfx’ in justins wishlist are in that class; they have developed/learned a technique for effects and have succeeded. Some other folks need to realize there’s more than an occlusion pass to getting things looking real.


not sure if it was the point to make it look real…compare,,compare…compare

Sir Monkey

NoSoul, when it comes to cingular as a client, I can’t imagine them wanting hands that look like they’ve been broken at every joint, seriously. We aren’t talking about some MTV experimental show open, we are talking a huge corporate client. I do agree with you to an extent, say if it was just the texture, to me the texture works, they clearly weren’t going for a realistic texture. But the modeling of the hands, you either make them completely non-realistic or make them realistic. Right now, knowing the client and the way they look now, they tried to make them realistic. And trust me, some will say, “then do a better job” believe me, I couldn’t do a better job but that is my point, design studios should not be doing realistic character animation, simple as that.


haven’t seen the spot in HD, but liked the Quicktime version. I was more interested in what was happening to the phones until I watched it a 4th time and started looking at the hands. Yeah… they aren’t perfect, and probably need to be perfect, but I’d bet non-fx geeks aren’t going to care. They had to get this spot by the Ad people and the client, so they obviously weren’t creeped out.


If the hands had been shot, it would have looked too much like MT’s spot. I think this was an effort to differentiate.


even on the quicktime the hands look pretty distractingly bad IMO… definitely a nasty case of the uncanny valley.

Sir Monkey

Well, this could be too early to say but as for Monovich saying the clients weren’t too creeped out, I saw the spot air once on tv last wednesday and I have not seen it air again. Usually a campaign like that would air a thousand times, especially over the busy shopping weekend. But, I actually did see a completely different BlackJack spot air after that, much more conservative spot using real live action.

Again, I’m probably saying this too early, who knows, maybe it will air another 2000 times, I’m just making a pre-mature observation. :)

Also, to clarify, I do love the spot, I don’t mean to be bashing it, I really started this post on “should design studios be attempting realistic character animation?”. I will mention BUCK has done some amazing non-realistic charcter animation.


Echoing Kevin’s question up at number 13, anyone know who’s doing the music on this spot?


The spot was done for 75k. Maybe thats why.


The Track is “Stinging Sitars” by Anjali

what who!!!

A client can get broken finger joints for 75k, awesome!!!


I never understood why design studios will do spec work just to shoot live action, but then when it comes to important client work they are scared to leave the box behind.

However, we dont know the circumstances involved so it’s hard to judge. For all we know the client could have scrapped the live action they wasted the entire budget to shoot in favor of these hands. Remember agency people aren’t the sharpest tools. I do know this though and stand by it, people should never be CG unless you want CG people.


I think to spot was great and you have to look at it for what it is the animation is slick and very difficult props to the 3d boys nice one I’m sure the texturing of the hands was intentional, i think if they went for realisium it would have stuck out like a saw thumb


I think also they got,what they paid for…..what I dont get…why spend 1% of your campaign on production….it`s a new trend?


Can anyone tell me what graphics engine or package was likely used in this add

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