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Wit Animation Creates Virtual Alter Ego For Counting Crows

Dreadlocked CG bunny gets the girl in "Accidentally In Love" music video (July 06, 2004)

Wit Animation, the Venice-based commercial production company and animation studio, has created an animated persona for Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz in the band's newest music video "Accidentally in Love." The hit song, featured on the "Shrek 2" soundtrack from DreamWorks/Geffen, represents a departure from Duritz's moody, introspective writing, offering instead a sunny outlook on the phenomenon of falling in love.

In the music video, produced by Santa Monica-based production company Pusher, a cute couple wakes in a New York apartment. As her boyfriend makes a raucous attempt in the kitchen to prepare breakfast in bed, the young woman struggles to hold onto a few last minutes of sleep. Her large stuffed rabbit, who bears more than a passing resemblance to the dreadlocked Duritz, comes to life and wanders to the kitchen where he observes the boyfriend and performs the song "Accidentally in Love." After witnessing the culinary mayhem, the dancing bunny returns to the bedroom and coaxes the young woman to run off with him. The boyfriend enters the bedroom laden with the breakfast tray, only to catch a glimpse of the girl and the bunny slipping out the window and down the fire escape.


The concept for the dreadlocked bunny came from singer Adam Duritz himself. The character design was a collaboration between Jeb Milne, animation director and owner of Wit Animation, and Meiert Avis, the video's live action director and owner of Pusher. Milne was present on set for the live action shoot and consulted with director Avis on lighting issues. Because fur tends to look better with a strong backlight, they chose very strong directional lighting. Wit Animation then undertook various animation and fur tests and began the process of camera matching. The set and all of its physical elements were painstakingly measured so they could be accurately recreated in the computer. The process ensures that the CG bunny would be properly scaled when inserted in his live action environment and cast shadows on the appropriate surfaces.

The "Accidentally in Love" bunny represents Wit Animation's first foray into CG character animation in live action. Many shots required the bunny to react to the lead male character's behavior. Avis and Milne decided to have the bunny act, dance and sing at the same time, incorporating performance with the lip sync and significantly ramping up the degree of difficulty.

While the live action part of the video was undergoing its final edit, Jeb and the Wit Animation team began the process of animating the lip sync of the entire song on a stationary bunny. This would enable Wit later on to import the bunny, complete with lip sync, into the individual scenes.

Of his collaboration with Pusher director Avis, Milne observed "Meiert has a fabulous darkness which he brings to his work and which kept the video from becoming too saccharine and candy sweet. This was a great opportunity to work with him and the producers at Geffen Records and to bring our first CG character to life in a highly original live action context."

In a compressed production schedule of just over three weeks, Wit Animation's team of six animators, model builders and texture artists created 49 shots totaling two minutes of CG animation. 3D Studio Max was utilized for modeling, texture animation, lighting and rendering. Digimation's Shag plug-in was used for fur. Milne and James Kinnings were lead animators; David Dwang was character designer.


About Wit Animation
Wit Animation is a small, but perfectly formed commercial production company and animation studio located in an idyllic compound in Venice, California. Founded in 1998 by animation director Jeb Milne, Wit Animation specializes in character work and is focused on the production of television commercials and the development of original content.

Milne, formerly a longtime resident of London, has produced commercials for Disney, Mattel and The Discovery Channel, as well as CG spots which have aired in England, Europe and Australia. Notable among these is a campaign featuring five CG characters for Beconase Nasal Spray through McCann Erickson and a ten-spot promotion for "Skips," a British kids' snack, through Publicis.

Wit Animation recently created a virtual alter ego for Counting Crows' lead singer Adam Duritz in a music video for the "Shrek 2" hit song "Accidentally in Love." The dreadlocked bunny in the video, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Duritz, is Wit Animation's first CG character in a live action environment.

Wit Animation's in-house projects include "Bimba & Buff," "Beaver," "Mavis in the Park" and "Pretty Bird," all of which may be viewed on the studio's website: www.witanimation.com

For more information on Wit Animation, please visit www.witanimation.com.

 


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Related Keywords:Wit Animation, Counting Crows, CG, Accidentally In Love, music video, Adam Duritz, Shrek 2, Pusher, Jeb Milne, Meiert Avis, CG character animation, Geffen Records, 3D Studio Max, Digimation, James Kinnings, David Dwang,

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