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Kids' WB!, Riverstreet And guru Get Wildly Twisted

Creates live-action and animated image campaign for 2005 (March 21, 2005)

Kids' WB!, the #1 broadcast network for kids, Riverstreet Productions, a leader in creative television production, and award-winning guru animation studio proudly announce the completion of the top-rated network's all-new, wildly twisted live-action and animated image campaign for 2005. The on-air campaign features attitude-laden kids whose rubberband-like limbs (created entirely in CG) twist, stretch and bend into improbable shapes making getting into mischief a whole lot easier, and so much more fun. The announcement was made by Betsy McGowen, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Kids' WB!, Tracy Pion, Creative Director, Riverstreet Productions, and Frank Falcone, Creative Director, guru animation studio.

For the seventh consecutive year, Kids' WB! has tapped Riverstreet Productions to develop its unprecedented image campaign. Set on the studio backlot, the on-air campaign is an extension of Kids' WB!'s unique brand and exclusive environment for kids. The creative partnership between Kids' WB! and Riverstreet Productions continues to earn industry recognition. Together, the companies have won 25 Promax Awards for the Kids' WB! campaign since 1999.

This year, Kids' WB! and Riverstreet Productions have tapped guru animation studio to bring to life the characters and the backlot with their fine-tuned comic sensibility, unparalleled high-tech visual effects and unique specialty in 3D character animation and design.

"Celebrating our 10th Anniversary this year, we recently unveiled the Kids' WB! of the next decade," said Ms. McGowen. "Our partnership with Riverstreet and guru allows us to move into the future and continue to create a distinct, branded environment. Kids' WB!, a one-of-a-kind destination for our viewers, is dedicated to engaging, empowering and entertaining kids for the next ten years and this year's innovative on-air initiative definitely captures the essence of the new Kids' WB!"

"We've been branding Kids' WB! as a unique destination for over seven years," said Ms. Pion. "This year it was time to develop an adventurous new image campaign that could live next to the current brand. We went to guru with our concept and boards because we knew the company had a comic sensibility and could bring our characters to life. Working with guru is great, in that creatively, it's like shorthand distinctive comic tone of Kids' WB!, plus guru brought a great design sense to the project."

guru creative director Frank Falcone led his visual effects and animation team in collaboration with Riverstreet creative director Tracy Pion and live-action director Michael Blum to develop the 20-spot network ID package for Kids' WB! Each of the 20 IDs, which range from five-to eight-second spots, takes place in a whimsical, fantasy landscape populated with the pliable kid characters. For example, in one creative spot, a hip-hop beat accompanies a kid on a low-rider bike as he pedals along when his bicycle speeds off before the elasticized boy can catch up. Another example, a kid plays a continuous riff on an electric guitar and as his fingers run down the frets, the camera follows, spiraling around and upside down capturing his fingers jamming away. Yet another creatively distinct spot includes breakdancers with the world's most flexible limbs, literally, spinning themselves into knots.

guru was initially approached by Riverstreet with a series of preliminary storyboards and was asked to develop the best technique for producing the spots. After establishing the final look, wardrobe and personalities of each character, guru proposed to pre-animate and pre-visualize all the spots prior to shooting the live-action, then match the shot footage of the kids' heads to the fast-paced animated footage of the characters' bodies. But guru's work didn't just live on the computer monitor - it also conceived of a uniformly top-lit set to ease the complexities of lighting over the three-day shoot.

Riverstreet produced the live-action shoot in Los Angeles, California, and guru was on set during the filming with laptop computers and QuickTime movies of the CG segments. Mr. Blum filmed the kid actors - who were strapped in a harness system and moved about by stunt supervisors - against green screen to capture their every movement. According to Mr. Blum, "It was important that such a technical shoot be impeccably prepared so we could keep our child actors focused on having fun, even as they hung upside down." guru Creative Director Mr. Falcone laughs, "I've never seen so many laptops on set. Everyone - from script supervisor to production AD - was running our compressed QuickTimes of each animation. That really helped guide the production crew and the actors' performances and make sure everyone was seeing the same thing."

On-set editing was conducted under the aegis of Peter McAuley and assistant James Andrews of Axyz Edit, Inc. An eight-bit video connection running directly from the HD camera into an on-set Apple Final Cut Pro editing suite provided a real-time video stream for Mr. McAuley to create rough edits of each promo immediately after each take. This enhanced on-set playback helped to narrow the selects for each take and allowed for more precise creative decision-making between the creative director, animation director and editor.

Discreet flame was used for 3D tracking and plate clean up before color-correcting and compositing the footage of the actors' heads with the CG. Apple's Shake was used for shot stabilization and matte cutting, Alias' Maya for modeling and animating, Mental Ray for rendering and Adobe After Effects for compositing the CG.

Mr. Falcone adds, "In CG/live-action combos, we're usually lobbying the director or DP to consider the CG that needs to be added later. What was unique and refreshing with this project was the level of collaboration we had with Riverstreet on the live-action shoot. Riverstreet and Kids' WB! allowed us to really stretch ourselves - no pun intended - in all sorts of crazy directions with the animation design, yet when it came to integrating the kids, we were able to keep the process orderly and methodical with the previsualizations, leaving just enough room on set for a lot of unexpected fun and great one-take performance moments."

About Kids' WB!
Kids' WB!, a leader in kids' television, is the children's programming service of The WB Network. Kids' WB! has maintained its position as the #1 kids' broadcast network since Fall 2000, and continues to set precedent with its top-rated 2004-2005 programming schedule.

Kids can find more on Kids' WB!'s web site at

About Riverstreet Productions
Since 1986, Riverstreet Productions has offered creative solutions from concept to completion: scripting, design, animation, editorial, film & tape production, and finishing. Providing expertise in image branding and campaigns, interstitials, commercials and network specials. Riverstreet has continued to be an award-winning leader in creativity and technology. Past awards have included 24 Promax Awards including 18 for their work on the 1998-2002 Kids' WB! Image Campaigns. Riverstreet has also applied their promotional expertise to the likes of "Will & Grace," Comedy Central, PBS, Disney, ABC, FX, Microsoft, MSNBC and Universal Home Entertainment.

For information, go to

About guru
guru is an award-winning animation studio specializing in 3D character animation and design for television and film. The company's credits include work for Leo Burnett, FCB, Ogilvy & Mather, YTV, Warner Bros. and Hallmark Entertainment. See the current reel and an archive of past work at

For more information, please contact: Frank Falcone or Anne Deslauriers at 416 599 4878, frank@gurustudio,

Project Credits:
Agency/Production Company: Riverstreet Productions / Los Angeles, CA

Animation Company: guru animation studio / Toronto, Canada

Client: Kids' WB!
Senior VP/General Manager: Betsy McGowen

Creative Director: Tracy Pion
Live-Action Director: Michael Blum
Line Producer: Doug Friedman
Producer: Jessica Ferguson
DP: Anghel Decca

Where Shot: Los Angeles, CA

Postproduction Facility: Axyz / Toronto, Canada
Editor: Peter McAuley

Animation Directors: Mark Ainslie, Frank Falcone
Exec Producer: Anne Deslauriers
Animators: Tomasz Antos, Diego Bergia, Robb Denovan, Kris Howald, Taras Primak, Richard Oey, Yuri Rocha, Allison Rutland, Sean Sullivan, Aaron Zacher
Rigging: Mark Ainslie, James Jacobs, Jamie McCarter
Lighting & Rendering: Tim Dormady, Timmy Kan, Mark Ainslie, Tomasz Antos

Composer: Rob Cairns
Sound Design Company: The Outpost Sound Mixing Company / Hollywood, CA


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Related Keywords:guru animation, Riverstreet Productions, Kids WB!, animated, Betsy McGowen, Tracy Pion, Frank Falcone, visual effects, 3D character animation, Michael Blum, QuickTime, Peter McAuley, James Andrews, Axyz Edit, Apple Final Cut Pro, Discreet flame, compositing, Shake, Alias Maya, modeling, Mental Ray, rendering, Adobe After Effects,

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