In Los Angeles, Christmas starts in September. If you work in commercial production, that is! Indeed it takes a couple of months for projects to get greenlit and produced in time for airing during the holiday season. So it was that last year I was working on a fun Christmas project for my clients at PSYOP- storyboarding the delightful tale of Kevin the Christmas Carrot- a character conceived for an Aldi holiday commercial. Aldi, if you don’t know, is a popular European supermarket chain.
The commercial is really sweet and funny- a plucky little carrot just wants to meet Santa, and must brave the dangers of the Christmas dinner table in order to do so. He dodges hazards of all kinds, and collapses next to Santa’s mince pie and brandy (it’s a UK commercial, so no cookies and milk in this one… in fact, it’s not Santa, it’s Father Christmas!).
It’s all self-explanatory and I’m really excited to show you the boards:
And here’s a link to the final video!
It turned out so great! Looks like they opted NOT to go with the full widescreen aspect ratio. I think it might have looked more epic if they did, but I can also see where the 16×9 is a little more suited for a sense of comedy, which was just as important.
There was a lot of brainstorming and tossing out all kinds of ideas that might work as potential hazards for the ‘journey’ montage. Here’s a few that I thought were really clever (and well-drawn by me!)
What a fun project! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. This campaign tested so well, the client decided to make a sequel! I storyboarded that one too, so I’ll post that when I have more time.
Woohoo! Here’s another fun project from earlier this year that I’m very proud to show- fun video game racing action! The “Asphalt” Series is well known in gaming circles as a premium racing product and I was very excited to be involved with my clients at PSYOP for their pitch and production of this great spot.
Conceptually, it’s very simple: Showcase the main themes of the game series: Racing, Mayhem, and Variety. Variety of cars, and variety environments. Hate to say it, but this was kind of an easy one for me… A commercial like this has no room for subtlety, so it’s just a matter of attempting to give equal weight to the important elements (variety of cars and environments) and balance that with a ramping of the action to an ultimate climax, all within 30 seconds!! EXTREME!!!
This project had two parts- the pitch and the production. For the pitch (in which we try to “win” the job), we kind of had a looser goal- wow the client with, well, creative compositions to showcase the action and variety. Promise them the moon and see if we can deliver. There were all kinds of different ideas being tossed about- mostly the idea was to bring a realistic visualization of the gameplay to the screen. Also on the job were some very talented 3d and concept artists, and we all pitched in to contributed pieces of the final puzzle. The pitch was won on the merits of this collaboration- some of which I’ll share with you below (they didn’t make the final cut, but helped advance the job along, and look cool, besides!).
It was a great team effort, and we won the job. Now comes the hard part- execution. They had me back to refine some concepts and nail transitions into something that hit all the marks. You ready for the boards? Here you go!
And here’s the final spot!
What a wild ride! Soo….. Sometimes I have a massive amount of input on a job, and I feel like I get to pick all the shots, and control the pacing, and the visual storytelling (remember, for many jobs, and certainly in this case, I’m not even given a script or shotlist). BUT in this case, much of the concepting was done by talented 2d and 3d artists working concurrently- and so about the only idea I want to point out that I specifically contributed was the opening transition where the camera appears to be POV from the view of the bumper, but pulls out to be the POV looking into the reflection of the bumper. As far as I know, I “invented” that, at least in this kind of car/racing/bumper context. The thing about that kind of camera move is, it’s something you can only pull off in CG, so you’d never see that in classic cinema- since you’d have to magically “erase” the reflection of the cameraman. So, there you go, I did something cool. But even so, just as much if not more credit goes to the director and the CG artists for actually pulling it off and making it look amazing- you never know with uncharted territory, but that’s life… TO THE XTREME!!!!
Woohoo! In addition to the previous Nutella spot, I happened to do the boards for the most recent follow up- “Spread the Happiness!” Once again produced by my great clients at Brand New School.
They are playing this spot a LOT on TV right now- which is great, since it rocks! It’s fun, it’s pop, it’s delicious.
The challenges involved in this spot were finding a fresh take on simple transitions and how best to style them in an appetizing way and choreograph them best to the music. I drew a LOT of frames for it, as we would build many animatics to see what worked best- there was a lot of experimentation with different kinds of wipes and reveals. But that’s the best way to get things perfect!
I always enjoy drawing families having fun. It turns out though, one thing that is hard to draw is people sitting around a table. It sounds simple but it’s really tricky because you have to draw in near perfect perspective just to get the height and distance relationships right between the chair and the table, and then again for the people who actually sit in them. If you draw it wrong, all your chairs will look like they are different sizes, or even like your actors are sitting on phonebooks or booster seats. It’s tough! One of those things that you only notice if you do it wrong, and since I think mine turned out pretty decent, I have to make a point about it 🙂 I left the extra “empty” space at the top of the frame because at one point we weren’t sure if there would be text, logo, or slogan superimposed there.
Here’s a great drawing of a product shot- always important to draw the product really well!!!
Here’s the full board sequence:
And for comparison, here’s the final commercial! Turned out pretty cool!
It’s a fun song, but when you work with the editors and animators that have to cut the commercial together, you have to listen to the song over and over and over and over again until it loses all meaning. Yup, there’s a limit to how much happiness one can take! Ha!
Here’s a fun spot I worked on earlier this year for my great clients at Mirada. It’s a charming commercial for lemon-scent Pine Sol, and to provide a brief backstory: the agency had “tested” a wacky concept of small soldiers and ballerinas chanting “powerful clean” and “lemony fresh” as they jumped into a Pine Sol bottle. And it tested well. Like, CRAZY well. So we were asked to put together a pitch on how we might take that concept and flush it out into a fun character animation spot.
The concept is super simple so all the nuance and storytelling is in the directing and camera angles, and really making sure the characters are on target and doing their thing, and so the success here would come down to the execution of the concept. Aside from the storyboards, there were character designers and concept artists working as well, but we were working concurrently so I didn’t have any direct reference for what anything should look like, so I had to charge forward as best I could.
We actually did have an “angle” if you will- the director was very interested in attempting to channel some of the very popular Taylor Swift video for “Bad Blood,” as in, to make sure we charged the lemony fresh ballerinas with a kind of kick-ass spin. Something different! I thought it was a great twist, and you can see in the frames, especially in this one:
Hardcore Freshness Ballerinas and Scrub Soldiers (complete with assault mops), in Pine Sol style, and miniaturized, in a typical household kitchen. I could picture that pretty easy. Here’s the boards:
The client apparently loved the boards, because they were not only awarded the job, but they ended up not needing me to revise any of the frames- which is a pretty awesome deal! Here’s the finished spot:
Not bad! Looks like they did away with the “Bad Blood” references- we are back to cutesy ballerinas, but I think that might be a good move, given the overall timing. Spot looks great. And I’m glad they kept in the “lemon” parachutes- that was my idea!
Here’s one I’ve had on ice a while now- an old pitch, that we didn’t get awarded, and thus I’ve not really been able to present, but enough time has passed that we can risk a look at my work, and hope nobody minds. It was a rare “throw your best efforts and time at this project” kind of assignment, and I had 3 days to turn around some serious quality work- presentation quality board for a pitch on Duracell, for an anthem-style spot, something epic and inspiring and durable- something to remember.
The creative concept for this project is a little abstract but also very effective- the engineering and precision that goes into Duracell batteries on the micro scale goes on to influence the engineering and precision on the macro scale further down the line. Through juxtaposition of imagery, micro and macro, we see point by point comparisons of how the dedication of craft is passed through from creator to creator. The narrative is driven visually so I encourage you to view the whole sequence and see if you can pick up on the intent. I’m proud of this work and happy to show it to you, here’s the boards!
Hope you liked it! On this project, the direction for whole spot was detailed out in dozens and dozens of vignette descriptions as provided by the creative director- shot by shot, and so I just did my very best to draw what was written. It’s always amazing to me how talented directors can see the entire spot in their minds, and when partnered with a talented board artist, can really put together something special. I loved this job, and what a shame it never got made. Oh well, that’s how it goes!
Here’s a very fun spot I did a while back for Red Bull/Audi; a little cross promotional effort to reinforce mutual branding and associations. Basically, it’s a mini-documentary of an extreme sports spectacle: a never-before-seen coordinated group of stunts with multiple flight technologies being expertly demonstrated, and beautifully shot.
This kind of event is more “captured” than executed according to shot list, so there’s some amount of looseness between what’s intended and final outcome- but I was able to help out by drawing up some nice presentation-style frames to help sell through the concept- and these shots were detailed very specifically by the director, who included great references for the planes, vehicles and locations. That helps a lot in making the boards come through as intended and being the most helpful in terms of advancing the production. I like that storyboards can be useful in a production like this, even though it’s also a known thing that on the day of the actual shoot, they’ll have to just roll with however things come out. If you ask me, that’s the REAL stunt! Ha! Here’s the boards: