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Labatt Blue “Epic” Storyboards

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I had a good run a couple of years ago getting hired to draw storyboards for an ad campaign for Labatt Blue, a Canadian Beer brand.  They have a Bear character (just an actor in a bear suit) who is their Party Champion – a “Duff Man,” if you will- who shows up at opportune moments to take the party to the next level- and make it EPIC.

I think I’ve detailed before that I prefer commercials that don’t rely on dialogue or voiceover to convey the narrative- and so it is in these commercials that all the entertainment and message is contained the fun, active, silly visuals.  In this campaign, I was called to draw sexy girls, sports, action, humor, nature, and of course, beer.  It was very fun.

Spot 1 – “Wakeboard”

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Here’s the first spot!  For all the spots, we start on a great beer/branding lineup.  Always good to have some clear branding, but it comes at a cost- it clearly shows the viewer that they are watching a commercial, which is often something we’re called to make less obvious- but owning it upfront and then making a spectacular entertaining spot immediately follow is also a great strategy- either way, your mission is to keep them watching for what happens next.

We open tight on a lineup of the Labatt Blue beers, which are lifted from frame to reveal an awesome wide shot of a beautiful blue lake, and sport boat with wakeboarder coming right at camera- after a series of tight shots of boating and boarding, we reveal the Bear in a frozen epic moment superimposed with the message “Get Undomesticated”.  This is their slogan/call to action/mnemonic – a brand message to reinforce association and clarify intent- this beer is for wild and crazy Canadian party animals and the sexy girls who love them!

We see more shots of extreme wakeboarding skills, and some party shots, and it’s on!  Labatt Blue is the choice of the truly undomesticated.  Here’s the boards:


And here’s the final spot!

Spot 2 – “Pond Hockey”

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We open tight on a lineup of the Labatt Blue beers, cold as ice, which are lifted from view and reveal a frozen pond- and a bizarre sight- a bear in hockey skates and stick doing perfect puck handling and closing in on us- it’s our Bear hero and the message is clear – Get Undomesticated.  He crashes the pond hockey game and single-handedly schools the other players, deft skills outclassing these hopeful amateurs.  He shoots, he scores, they celebrate!  It’s a hot time on the cold pond tonight! Here’s the boards:


And here’s the final spot!

Spot 3 – “Dune Buggy”

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We open tight on a lineup of the Labatt Blue beers, which wipe frame, revealing our dune buggy race- a sexy flag girl starts the race and they’re off!  We have fun action shots, quick cuts of dune buggy racing action, and we catch a frozen moment glimpse of the absurd- the lead buggy is driven by our hero, the Labatt Bear.  He wins the race, the crowd goes wild, and it’s a fun, sexy part to celebrate right after.  Win!  Here’s the boards:


And here’s the final commercial – or at least, it would have been here- I can’t find it online, and I’m not sure if it was even made, or made but never posted, or posted but then removed.  Probably the latter.

Sometimes things get muddled after the fact – as an example, limitations on music licensing, or perhaps more likely, revised guidelines on advertising standards and practices, or perhaps most likely, maybe it was “tested” by a focus group of viewers, and tested poorly, for whatever reason, and thus was cut.  It happens all the time, and it’s expected.  I’m only speculating, but maybe it was a bit of a conceptual reach to go with the Baja Beach / Sand Dune scenario- its kind of a disconnect from where you would normally think a Canadian Bear would spend his free time.  So, maybe someone had a concern that this spot wasn’t as relatable to the target demographic as the other spots were.  Just a guess!

Thanks for reading!  See you next time.



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Corona “New Can” Storyboards

This is one of my favorite recent projects- a great concept, flawless execution, and I got to have a lot of creative input.

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The concept is really simple- a Corona can is situated in a dreamlike beach scene, and transforms into a palm tree, and from that palm tree sprouts another palm tree and between them appears a hammock, and upon the sand beyond it we see shadows of a man relaxing in that hammock, invisibly- and then the scene transforms into a transistor radio, and nearby shadows of people playing beach volleyball are visible, having fun together, and a ball is knocked into scene, and we follow that ball, and the ball transforms into a grill and chair and umbrella setup, and then that transforms into a sailboat cutting across the seas, and that transforms back into the Corona can, all in a single unbroken camera move.

Wait, that’s not simple.  That’s ridiculously complex and difficult!  But I love a challenge, and I have a pretty good mind for this kinda stuff- moving the camera around in 3d space and whatnot.  I also do a pretty good job of making animatic frames, and basically, this thing was right in my wheelhouse.  There were a lot of minor revisions, I’ll admit, but the boards were strong from the get-go and I’m thrilled with how it turned out.

I colored these boards quickly with the help of another artist Sean Streeter, who was freelancing at the studio on another project and finished early, so I roped him in to help on this one.  I’m grateful for his help on it, and he’s really talented artist, here’s his website:

On with the boards!

And here’s the final spot:

So proud of everyone who worked on this spot and made it look absolutely perfect!  See you next week!

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Olay “Red Carpet”

Another fun awards-season spot.  Seems like I had a bunch this year.  This was a fun concept- highly stylized shots of woman’s night preparing to walk the red carpet- shot in reverse- so we reveal the secret to her glamorous beauty- Olay Regenerist face cream!

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This spot was highly developed by the director, a very talented artist in his own right, and he provided very tight style frames that I referenced directly (not traced, but drew from reference) to achieve his vision.  So the polish on these is pretty high, but I still drew them quickly.  Drawing from reference is EASY, you see.

What else… oh yeah: Red accents thoughout helped to reinforce the branding!  And, this was another spot that had levels upon levels of executive approval needed- Olay, E, the Academy, all had to weigh in and approve, and they did.

The boards look great:


And the spot looks great- you’ll have to scroll down on their website to find it; or you can take my word, it looks great:

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Another one done.  See ya next week!

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“A Day in the Life” Storyboards

Here’s another one of my famous dancing storyboards.  I don’t quite know how I always seem to be drawing choreographed dances.  Ironically, I’m a terrible dancer.  Oh well.

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These storyboards are for a kinda companion marketed synergistic branding tie-in cross promotional effort between E! channel and Degree (the antiperspirant), starring that Famous Choreographer you recognize from “Making the Band,” Laurieann Gibson and Kat Graham, fairly fresh celeb actress/dancer/singer.

In them, we depict our Choreographer, starting her day early, alone, brainstorming her dance routine for the Grammys and scribbling notes, then tuning and fine-tuning the routine by drilling with her dancers, and then our Actress talent arrives to interview her and pick up a few pointers on how to stay cool… under pressure!  I’m sure Degree brand deodorant helps too.

It’s kinda shot like a documentary, so we have a lot of quick cuts and candid shots.  This is my specialty by now.  Bear in mind, these are shooting boards for a 60 second commercial, and I had 8 hours to draw them.  Here’s the boards:


Here’s the final spot.

Not bad.  I wish somebody told me that Laurieann cut her hair so short.  And it seems that they cut a section of our script which had Laurieann teaching Kat a dance move.  Otherwise, fairly close.

Before I go- for any producers out there- typical fast turnaround on a :60 commercial is TWO days, not ONE, so please budget accordingly 🙂

See ya next week!

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Proactiv+ Commercials

Man, pimples suck!  I still get pimples now and again, and I certainly had my fair share in high school.  Maybe it was all the soda and doritos and taco bell… nah….

Enter Proactiv+.  It’s the skin clarifying formula we’ve all been waiting for!  And it’s endorsed by mega-artist Adam Levine, among others.

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So this was a fun but stressful job to work on- my task was to create shooting boards that would inform the crew of the various ideas for options of angles to shoot the talent, aka Mr. Levine.  These boards were very much location specific- as in, they were shooting at his house, within a 3 hour window, and they had to be prepared for anything.  Nobody could really know exactly what shots they would use, as the whole concept of the piece was to shoot it fairly candid/documentary style.  That means, you have a couple cameras going and you shoot everything, and edit it down to something that looks natural and relatable.

So, I accompanied the crew on a Tech Scout to his house, to survey everything and get ideas.  I had my sketchbook out and sketched everything, just absorbing it all very quickly.  We had to be efficient with our time, out of respect to the talent.  I don’t really “talk” on these excursions, or offer my creative input- all the parameters and requirements of the task are already in place.  My job is to pay attention and take direction.

After that, I met again with the director and producer at the fancy Vista Del Mar hotel in Santa Monica to  go over the notes and make sure I had everything.  We brainstormed a few more ideas, as I could offer input at this stage.  To do so earlier could risk undermining the director’s vision in front of the crew.  We tacked on a few more shot ideas and I took the work home.  I probably put in a good 8 hours that night, and the final boards were approved the following morning, pending a couple small tweaks.

Conceptually, the shoot was simple- my boards needed to show various angles of Adam talking to camera, with various expressions, and then show many different options for B-Roll- shots that they edit with voiceover, that depict the talent being down to earth, and doing relatable stuff; like playing with his dogs, or jammin’ on his guitar.  Here’s the boards:

Trickiest part of this job was the getting his likeness within tolerance- I probably could have done better but luckily the expectations for shoot board drawings are pretty low.  Still, the talent might see them, so I couldn’t totally slack on it.  I think they look pretty good given the time constraints.

Oh, you want to see the final spot?  Here you go:

Looks pretty good!  See you next week.

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Ugg Boots – Storyboards

When you see a snowy holiday commercial nowadays, bear in mind that it’s probably produced during the Summer season in Los Angeles, where it never snows.  That’s certainly the case with these two spots I storyboarded.

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This commercial campaign was produced by Timber, a great company and I love working with these guys, primarily because they really appreciate good storyboards and know where to get them- from me!

The story of each spot is the same, kinda:  A crew of a dozen beautiful ladies in winder regalia and Ugg boots (of course) parade in front of the camera, shimmy here and there, playfully coordinating their efforts into a final snowflake structure that is slowly revealed at the end.  Very fun.

Here’s the storyboards for the first spot, “Twinkling Lights.”

And here’s the finished commercial:

You know I did a good job when the boards look like the final spot!  And here’s the other spot, “Passing out Presents.”

And the final commercial:


Two spots- two days- 16 hours- 56 frames.  Two 60-second commercials in two days.  That’s kind of a lot of work- but there are mitigating factors:  It was helpful that one of the directors is a talented artist himself and could do some informing sketches of his own to help shortcut the storyboarding process.  The downside was that both directors had to be away for most of the process at a Tech scout (where they and other production crew meet to discuss the shoot on location before it happens), so the sketches were pretty much what I had to go on.  There isn’t much ‘story’ to these spots, as you’ll see, and no script either, so I had to sort of play choreographer to bring the appropriate sense of fun to these boards.  Luckily for me, I draw women well, and quickly, and the backgrounds of the shots were basically nonexistent, so the sets were minimalist and there were few if any constraints in terms of camera angles and blocking.  And finally, these were shooting boards, so while they didn’t have to be super perfect, it was worth doing as well as possible, since it would eventually end up as a sample on my blog, which you’re reading now.   So it was a mixed bag, but not too badly tilted into either camp of hard or easy.

In the end, I love drawing cute girls and I love how these spots turned out- just like I drew them!