Optimus AICP Sponsor reel Concept and Credits

PROJECT: AICP Midwest Sponsor Reel

Our piece for the AICP Midwest show is best described as a late ’70s
early 80’s music video tour of logos. Our inspiration came from
music videos of the time (especially early MTV faves like Falco,
Michael Jackson, etc.) and from broadcast graphics / film titles of
the era. While we loved the feel of older music videos, at first we
weren’t sure how to incorporate 30-40 logos. But research of design
from that time led us to a number of older commercial spots,
particularly ones directed by Robert Abel for both 7UP and Levis.

Film graphics of the time were optically printed and the look was
something we wanted to recreate. We learned as much as we could
about these techniques, particularly “slitscan” treatments of the
time. We knew that the danger of making some thing look old on
purpose is that it can just look bad, so we tried hard to consider
what was specifically resonating with us with each of these spots.
This included the voice of the time, Ken Nordine, who can be heard at
the start of the Levi’s commercials. He is a Chicago voice-over
legend, and his deep voice creates an immediate connection to 1979.

What really got us motivated was seeing the “Can You Feel It?” video
for the Jacksons . This had it all, long bizarre intro (voiced by
Ken Nordine), great song, and optically printed graphics.

We had been considering other routes for the sponsor reel, but “Can
You Feel It?” really took over. Once we printed out the lyrics, and
realized how SERIOUS this song was supposed to be, we knew we were on
our way. One of our actors from the video, Doug Manley is also a
writer and he took our inspiration and created our own version. Our
idea was that this song was being sung by two guys (maybe vaguely
European/Australian a la Bee Gees) with a rough grasp of English.
They, like the Jacksons, had a message of hope for a dying Earth, but
their words might not be so clear. Thus the impossibly parenthetical
title, “Do You See (What I Just Said)?”

Once we had combined our inspiration with our story, we began the
tasks of preproduction. Casting was close to home. Besides Doug,
who works in client service, our other actor Bob Blonski works in
accounting. After some wig and costume shopping, they were good to
go. We tracked down Ken Nordine and let him cut loose on some voice
work in his home studio. Storyboards and rough animations were
started as well. Though we have a small shooting area and a
composer, we needed some bigger guns for stage shooting and for music
composition. Knowing that there is no money in a project like this
means asking for favors, so we approached two places that, like us,
were sponsoring the show. Resolution Digital Studios opened their
doors to us less than a week after I called. They gave us access to
a greenscreen stage, two cameras, and a crew of 6 people. Earhole
took our idea and just ran with it. I remember them saying “I know a
guy who can hit that falsetto, he was in a Bee Gees tribute band for
several years.” Perfect.

From the time we shot at the studio to the completion date was about
a month. We first took the footage and pulled selects and edited
down the best takes. We used the Jacksons song for rough edit
because we need to give Earhole time to make the song. We parsed out
the work into our three “worlds” and most of the work was split
amongst 4 designer/animators and 1 guy working full-time in CGI. We
used After Effects for almost all the animating and comping (a few
mattes were cut in the Flame), and both Cinema 4D and Maya for the
CG. We had an editor on Final Cut on standby for the last two weeks
to keep taking our renders and updating the edit. Things changed for
the better every time we rendered and got new tracks from Earhole.
Additional sound design was done by a sound engineer here as well.

Besides all of the animation and compositing, the hardest part was
incorporating all of the logos. As the date approached, more
sponsors were added, and the show’s organizers were accepting
sponsors until the very last minutes. We finally ended up squeezing
49 logos in, which was far more than we had anticipated.

The final piece played before a live audience which is a rarity for
this kind of work. We all make commercials and design pieces every
day, but we rarely get to see and hear the reaction. It was
extremely gratifying to be in the audience at the show. Having made
a couple design/mood pieces for the sponsor reel before, we really
tried to make something that would connect in a fun way with a group
of sponsors and agency people. To say the least, they “got it” and
really applauded loudly when the final unicorn/pegasus flew past. A
great sound for all of us hear after so many late nights.

Design & Animation
Donnie Bauer, Mark Butchko, Patrick Coleman, Luis Mayorga, Jason
Oberg and Mike Ciacciarelli

Executive Producer
Amy Hall

Ruben Vela

Sound Design
Joel Anderson

Doug Manley & Bob Blonski

Eric Larson, EARHOLE

Stage and Lighting
Resolution Digital Studios

Listen up fellow brother man!
Close your mouth and take my hand.
Your ears are blind to the words I see.
Open your mind to the possibility.

With all this noise
No one can hear.
The words you talk
Falls on deaf ear.

Do you see?
Do you see?
What I just said
(Can you see what I’m talk’n ‘bout brother?)

There is no wrong, don’t you understand?
I know I’m right, gonna take a stand.
If all this silence frightens you,
Listen up! Learn something new.

There are no paupers,
There are no kings.
You can hear,
But you’re not listening

Do you see?
Do you see?
What I just said
(Listen to my lips now sister!)

It’s always dark before the light.
Don’t push away, hold on tight.
Hear the quiet it’s all around.
Now silence is the only sound.

You’re my brother,
Your brother is me.
Our faces are different colors –
The colors of harmony.

Now you see
Now you see
What I just said.
(We did it ‘cause we did it people!)