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Renegade Animation Puts Flash into Cocoa Puffs Spot

Studio Mixes Cel & Flash Animation and the Results are Cuckoo

Renegade Animation has produced a new television spot for General Mills Cocoa Puffs cereal and New York ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi. The spot is the second to feature Sonny, the ?Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs bird since the beloved character was redesigned, in more svelte and jovial form, by Renegade artists last fall. Even more significant is the spots innovative blend of traditional cel and Flash animation, a technique pioneered by Renegade Animation, as well as the high level of design that the studio employs in the animation.

The spot begins with a familiar premise: Sonny is trying valiantly to suppress his urge to go bonkers over the taste of Cocoa Puffs. He dials his best friend for support, but unfortunately, that friend is a parrot who repeats every word that Sonny says. The parroting of ?Munchy, crunchy, chocolaty Cocoa Puffs sends poor Sonny into a frenzy and leaves him bouncing beak over talons about the screen. That cues the announcer to promote Cocoa Puffs as ?part of a balanced breakfast.

Renegade employs Flash animation to expedite parts of the animation process while still relying on traditional cel technique to create the animations rich look and to give the character motion its fluidity. ?Flash allows us to reuse assets and that speeds up some of the more routine aspects of the animation process, said Renegade Animation director Darrell Van Citters. ?But for us, Flash is more than a practical tool. We have integrated it into our creative process and take advantage of its strengths to enhance the aesthetics or our work.

One way Renegade capitalizes on the unique qualities of Flash animation is by using it to introduce design elements into their animation. The environments in the Cocoa Puffs spot are highly stylized and dominated by geometric shapes. Renegade uses Flash techniques to change the environments color or shape, to evolve them, or to cause them to melt into kaleidoscopic patterns reflective of the swings in Sonnys mood.

?The background effects that we are able to achieve would be difficult to replicate using cel technique alone, Van Citters said. ?At the same time, we are able to retain artistic integrity and quality.

The reason for that, Van Citters adds, is that Renegades staff is made up of classically-trained animators who have added Flash to their bag of tricks. ?It not too difficult for an animator with a background in cel to learn how to use Flash software, he said. ?It would be much harder to teach someone with a Flash background how to be an artist, and artistic quality is still paramount.

Renegade Animation is located at 116 N. Maryland Ave., Lower, Glendale, CA 91206. For more information, call (818) 551-2351 or visit


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