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Reelworks Animation Creates Buzz With Fool Throttle

Also completes new commercial campaign for Plato?s Closet (August 05, 2004)

Reelworks Animation Studio has created a high-energy animated short film Fool Throttle that is making its way around the festival circuit. The five-minute film has also been licensed to Air Canada for its August and September in-flight programming. In addition, the talented artists at Reelworks have just completed a three-spot animated campaign for the unique recycling retail store Platos Closet, which is set to air in August.

Fool Throttle has already generated quite a stir, having been screened or accepted into Philadelphia Film Festival, Annecy, Canadian World Wide Short Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, The One Show, Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival and Rooftop Films. Created by Reelworks Animators/Directors Todd Hemker and Morgan Williams in an era of rampant road rage, the film is a timely and cautionary tale about how aggressive behavior on the road leads to a no-win situation. So what happens when the two scooter-riding characters, Scooter and Tex, encounter each other and rage on the road? Their relationship is cemented forever.

For Reelworks Animators/Directors Todd Hemker and Morgan Williams, the film was a true labor of love. In addition to their commercial project commitments, the two worked on Fool Throttle over the course of a year, creating extensive animatics and the final design in Photoshop and AfterEffects. Hatched from a :15 piece Hemker created to act as filler between categories on the Reelworks demo reel, the idea grew and expanded into a short film.

In designing the animation, the team drew inspiration from a combination of artistic influences including childrens book illustrator Eric Carle and French painter Jean Dubuffet, among others. Todd Hemker designed the characters and textured backgrounds in Photoshop and then Morgan Williams animated the elements using a Wacom tablet in Photoshop and After Effects. To achieve the look of the sky and ground, Hemker used a close-up digital photograph of the cement sidewalk outside his apartment. The color of the photograph was simply reversed from its original sandy yellow and turned into the beautiful pebbled blue-gray seen in the film. Scans of masking tape were used to create the ?boards in Scooters garage and in the buildings.

?The piece was designed minimally for efficient animation, explains Todd Hemker. ?We wanted a nice organic look to the animation. [Executive Producer] Audrey Robinson Favorito was instrumental in pushing us to create more depth to the story and to explore the emotions of the characters. It was a very collaborative process -- Morgan and I were constantly sharing story ideas, which never failed to amuse us.

?The process was always fun and we relished the freedom we had in terms of creativity and time with this project, adds Morgan Williams. ?My favorite part was working out the timing and movement of the animation and building the story. We were also lucky to have such a professional track from music and sound company Echo Boys. The music really captures the personalities of Scooter and Tex, as well as the flow of the narrative.

In addition to Fool Throttle, the artists at Reelworks are also animating commercial projects having recently finished a three-spot campaign for Platos Closet, a ?recycling retail store for teens and young adults, via ad agency Periscope.

Highlighting the tagline ?You have the clothes. We have the cash, the :30 spots feature fashionable young adults in various situations that somehow come upon a pile of cash. In ?Limo, a teen girl walking on the street is thrown a heap of cash from a passing limo. The vibrant spot concludes with motion graphics and real product shots of the diverse brand name clothing available at Platos Closet. The other two spots follow a similar premise, emphasizing the idea that the store pays for the best spring and summer fashions. ?Couch opens on a young man listening to music while lying on a couch. A big bag of money suddenly flies through the open window and lands on his lap. In ?Nudge, a love-struck couple strolls along and smiles at each other. The girl nudges her boyfriend who accidentally bumps into a fire escape and is rained upon by a mountain of money.

According to Reelworks Designer/Art Director Soyeon Kim, it was important to study the tastes and style preferences of the target audience. To prepare for the project, Kim researched teen publications to use as reference for the character and wardrobe design.

?The goal was to appeal to teen buyers so we created characters that were more realistic in appearance and mannerisms and werent cartoon-like, remarks Soyeon Kim. ?This was a really fun and unique project. The first :15 involves character animation and the second is motion graphics so you get to see two different designs and approaches in the same spot. We had a smooth collaboration with the agency creatives and we worked closely to make sure we had the right style and look.

About Reelworks:
Reelworks Animation Studio, Inc. is a full-service traditional animation studio specializing in the commercial production of character animation, moving illustration and animation combined with live-action. Reelworks has been creating character-driven spots since 1979. Embracing current design trends toward bold graphic computer-driven imagery, the art studio is also known for inking and painting by hand, producing lush, painterly hand-done styles the traditional way. The studio has created memorable spots for clients like Coca-Cola, Time Magazine, and Hersheys, and has also captured some of the industrys most prestigious awards such as the Clio, Mobius, and The Show.

Reelworks Animation is located at 2836 Lyndale Avenue South Studio 4, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Telephone: 612.333.5063. Fax: 612.871.9336


Fool Throttle Credits:
Directors/Animators: Todd Hemker and Morgan Williams
Executive Producer: Audrey Robinson Favorito

Music and Sound by Echo Boys
Composer: Alex Berglund
Sound Designer: Tom Lecher
Mixer: Ken Chastain
Guitar: Randy Anderson

Platos Closet Credits:
Client: Platos Closet
Spot Titles/Airdates: ?Limo :30/August 2004
  ?Couch :30/August 2004
  ?Nudge :30/August 2004

Advertising Agency: Periscope/Minneapolis, MN
Producer: Jennifer Helm
Art Director: Anne Taylor
Copywriter: Nancy Mandela

Animation & Production Company: Reelworks Animation/Minneapolis, MN
Director: Bruce McFarlan
Art Director: Soyeon Kim
Animators: Morgan Williams, Todd Hemker, Aaron Brudvig
Digital Ink and Paint: Thom Waters
Executive Producer: Audrey Robinson Favorito
Producer: Neha Upadhyaya Lang

Editorial Company: Reelworks Animation/Minneapolis, MN
Editor: Morgan Williams

Postproduction Company: Pixel Farm/Minneapolis, MN
Colorist: N/A
Online Editor: Tom Jacobsen @ Pixel Farm

Music, Audio Post and Sound Design Company: Hest & Kramer/Minneapolis, MN
Creative Director: Steve Kramer
Associate Creative Director/Head of Production/Mixer: Jim Weber
Composer/Arranger/Sound Designer: Dan Solovitz
Executive Producer: Bob Hest


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Related Keywords:Reelworks Animation, Fool Throttle, Plato?s Closet, Reelworks Animation Studio, Air Canada, Animation, Todd Hemker, Morgan Williams, Photoshop, AfterEffects, Wacom, Audrey Robinson Favorito, Echo Boys, Periscope, Soyeon Kim,


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