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Western Images Creates CG Commercial for Cingular

Entire spot created in Maya (September 04, 2001)
In "Catwalk," a new 30-second CG commercial created for Cingular Wireless and ad agency BBDO South, the artists at San Francisco's Western Images tackled their second spot for the telecom brand in little more than a month. Once again using the distinctive orange Cingular logo as star, this time the Western creative team was charged with animating a fashion show exhibiting Cingular's "Fall Collection" of wireless telephone service packages. "Catwalk" debuts today.

Directed by Mark Dippé, Pandemonium (SF), the spot opens against a stark white wall elegantly inscribed with "Cingular Fall Collection." From the left, the bright orange figure of "Jack," aka, the stylized "X" shaped Cingular logo, appears with a Nokia 3360 cell phone in his right "hand." Thick with attitude, Jack pauses, then sashays down the catwalk, to the accompaniment of flashbulbs and the appreciative applause of the audience. Jack is quickly joined by several look-alikes, each presenting a Nokia phone, which is described by the voiceover of Charlie Sheen.

With but three weeks to create the spot from agency boards, the Western team had their work cut out for them, especially Dippé who focused during pre-visualization to develop a coherent, amusing story from the original concept.

"Creating a believable fashion show proved a significant challenge," according to Western Images' head of production Todd Lindo. "First, we had to create a set to convey specific qualities. The fashion show stage had to be clearly distinguishable from the beauty pageant variety with a particularly sleek, impressive style and texture, but not stray too far from the aesthetic of the established Cingular brand image and body of advertising."

"Our first character building R&D exercise was to develop a range of walk cycles," explains animation director Tobin Jones. "These helped BBDO determine the right attitude and range of motion. We then worked to convey a sense of style and atmosphere in keeping with BBDO's character-driven campaign. The environment had to be striking, but it couldn't detract from Jack. It had to add to his emotion, almost as if the environment became Jack's clothing."

Like the fashion show, lighting the spot required some serious R&D to determine the appropriate look for flashbulbs against the silhouetted audience, low hanging overhead spotlights, interactive illumination of the Jack models, pools of light on the reflective runway, and the camera flash editorial transitions.

Through close observation of the fashion world, Jones and fellow animation director Richard McBride imbued Jack's iconic character with the classic sashay of a runway model. The entire spot was created using AliasWavefront Maya.

In the end, the animators played off of the character's stiffness to create a hilarious vision of the world of the catwalk. The Jack characters move almost aggressively, actually causing two of them to collide in mid-stride at one point.

Instilling a little haute couture attitude to the character of Jack was one thing. Developing an appropriate fashion sense proved to be quite another. "We're pretty much a t-shirt and jeans place," says Hamilton. "We did a lot of research into the fashion world, bought all the latest magazines and watched TV fashion reporting and movies like Robert Altman's 'Prêt-à-Porter.' By the end of the project, we were talking comfortably about Versace, Prada and Miyake."

All of which makes one thing perfectly clear. Western Images can talk the talk, walk the walk and deliver the goods.

Western Images ( focuses on the creative process, offering a complete package of digital production services from design, animation, editing and compositing, for broadcast and commercial clients including: FCB, Ogilvy & Mather, Arnold Worldwide, Y & R, OWN&P, Doner, Campbell Mithun, Publicis, Saatchi, JWT, Richards Group, Weiden + Kennedy; and production companies: Pandemonium, ILMCP, Wild Brain, BoB Industries, A Band Apart, Cognito, Copper Media, Propaganda, Crash Films. For more information contact: Todd Lindo, executive producer, 415.252.6000 or email: [email protected]

Cingular Wireless Title: Catwalk (:30) Air date: September 1, 2001

Head of Production, Todd Lindo
Animation director: Tobin Jones
Animation Director: Richard McBride
Technical Dir.: Chris Hamilton

Editors: Mike Tuomey and Steve Wood

Flame Artist:Greg Gilmore
Animation Directors: Tobin Jones, Richard McBride
Animators: Jance Allen, Greg Gladstone, Carl Kaphan, Allan Gersten, John Stillman
Product Photography DP: Alex Vendler
Technical Assistants: Anna Bjeldanes, Josh Johnson

Pandemonium, SF Clint Goldman, Exec Producer Mark Dippe, director

BBDO South Atlanta, GA Producer: Tina Cairo

Jim Noble, Executive Creative Director
Rich Wakefield, SVP, Group Creative Director
Steve Andrews, Senior Art Director
Mike Weidner, Senior Writer
Gayle Weiss, Account Supervisor

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Related Keywords:CG, animation, Maya, Western Images

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