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dFX Commercial Watch:
Computer Cafe Breathes Animated Life into Pringles Man

Commercial Credits


CLIENT
Procter and Gamble - Pringles

PROJECT
Pringles "Crunchy Pringles Boys"

VISUAL EFFECTS
ComputerCafe

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Jeff Barnes

DIGITAL FX SUPERVISOR
David Ebner

DIGITAL FX PRODUCER
Vicki Galloway Weimer

LEAD ANIMATOR
Domenic DiGiorgio

ANIMATORS
Minoru Sasaki
Steve Arguello
David Simmons
Jim Arthurs

COMPOSITOR
David Ebner

ART DIRECTOR
Glenn Hiramatsu

AD AGENCY
Grey/Worldwide

PRODUCER
Pamela Yeh

CREATIVE DIRECTORS
Shawn Couzens
Gary Ennis

When Pringles (Procter & Gamble) wanted to pump some summer fun into its advertising, Grey/Worldwide commissioned visual effects specialists The Syndicate to bring their mustachioed brand icon, Mr. P., to life in two spots, one employing a mixture of 2-D and 3D animation, the other an all-CG production.

In "Where's Your Head At" (:30), the eponymous Basement Jaxx song, a high-energy reworking of Gary Numan's "M.E.," is the score for three roaming teens, who decide where their heads are at while munching on Pringles. Mr. P., the handlebar-mustached, bow-tied character from the Pringles label, enthusiastically sings along to the chorus from his home on the Pringle's package.

In creating the animated character, The Syndicate lead animator Domenic DiGiorgio found himself challenged with granting personality to a logo. "There are limits to what I could do with Mr. P. because, after all, he's just a head wearing a bow-tie," said DiGiorgio. "We had to give him enough attitude to match the song so I exaggerated the available elements, which boiled down to his head, mouth and eyes. I had him tip his head back as if he was really belting it out, then move towards camera so it seems he could pop off of the pack at any moment."

DiGiorgio also found a challenge in the closing shot, in which Mr. P. nests in a young lady's backpack as she walks off into the sunset. "The other shots were easier to track because the can remained fairly still and we could track in 2D," said DiGiorgio. "But in the last shot the can was bouncing all over the place. I had to go at it the old-fashioned way, hand tracking the scene frame by frame in 3D. Sometimes it's easier to put aside the fancy software packages and just do things by hand."

It's All CG for the "Crunchy Pringles Boys"
The "Crunchy Pringles Boys" (:15) spot takes its cue from the "Soggy Bottom Boys" of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" fame, replacing George Clooney with three Pringles cans singing (and yodeling) the praises of new Pringles Sweet Mesquite chips in an all-CG production.

"This spot had to do with setting and personality," said DiGiorgio. "We had to create and establish a dusty old west locale where the cans perform." The location, which was designed by art director Glenn Hiramatsu, spared no details, including oil lamps, a wooden wagon-wheel chandelier, and ten-gallon hatted patrons, to evoke an old-time music hall.

"Upon learning about the concept, I dug up archival footage to see how these places actually looked," said Hiramatsu. "I used part of a music hall and part of a saloon to evoke an old west atmosphere. It was interesting to take my design and hand it over to animator Jim Arthurs, and to see his three dimensional interpretation. He really nailed it. However, he didn't include a moose head, which was one of my favorite touches, but I refrained from saying anything knowing that would mean another three or four days work," he laughed.

For this instance DiGiorgio had to re-imagine the concept of Mr. P. "I couldn't have the same guys we used in the previous spot," said DiGiorgio. "These cans were singing in a completely different genre, a different setting, a different time period. The in-your-face aesthetic wasn't going to fly so these cans are toned down, a little more suave and relaxed." Animators Steve Arguello, Dave Simmons and Minoru Sasaki did a fantastic job capturing the old west feel within the animated can trio.

The details of each can's personality is evident in its subtleties. "The mouths move as if they are actually enunciating the lyrics and their eyes close when they hit higher register notes. They even have synchronized movements, bringing to mind a sort of western Temptations. They had to put on a good show and they did," said DiGiorgio.

About ComputerCafe

ComputerCafe, located in Santa Maria, CA, was founded in 1993 by partners Jeff Barnes and David Ebner to create broadcast promotion and ID packages for television stations. Today the company draws clients from all corners of the entertainment world, including feature films, (The Panic Room, The One, Armageddon, Flubber), commercials (Doritos, Microsoft, Burger King) and broadcasters (CBS, HBO, NBC). Both the Santa Maria, and the new Santa Monica location, which opened in 2000 to serve its growing feature film and commercial clients, are outfitted with the latest effects, design, compositing and rendering technologies, including Discreet Logic Flame, Cyborg 5D, Commotion, Lightwave, Digital Fusion, PhotoShop and After Effects. Both studio are Unix-based and T1 networked for real-time creative collaboration.

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