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Z Animation Creates AG Ads For BASF

New agriculture ads apply CGI animation (June 09, 2004)

The Z Animation team of Emmy Award-winning Director and Designer David Chomowicz, co-director/Producer Rob Issen and Executive Producer Peter Barg has completed a campaign of four: 30 CGI animated spots for BASF Headline fungicide and agency Brighton/St Louis. Targeted at farmers, the campaign is now breaking during planting season in crop-specific markets in seven states.

The campaign was created by Brighton Executive Creative Director Tim Farthing, Sr. Copywriter Melinda Wrigley and producer Sue Willing. According to Farthing, the spots push the limits for the genre. "Most ag spots are geared towards a product shot and a live farmer in a crop field, or as simple tabletop with stock footage. But with four different crops (Wheat, Sugar Beets, Peanuts, Potatoes) to show, each with different planting and harvest dates and visual signatures, it would have been near impossible to shoot this campaign live. Animation provided the perfect solution."

Each spot opens on an establishing graphic that asks, "What is an intelligent fungicide?" The scene immediately shifts to the "clean" environment of the BASF lab, where a pair of technicians is shown evaluating test growth. An over-the-shoulder zoom then takes us literally through a technician's clipboard and into a field, where a farmer is similarly evaluating his own crops. A quick time lapse demonstrates the harvestable growth, as the camera pulls back to a birds eye angle to reveal the full scope of the fields. Finally, corkscrewing down, a seamless dissolve brings the viewer back to ground level, where the farmer is seen sharing a sample of his crop with a friend.

"It was extremely important that the animation demonstrate a connection between the BASF lab technicians and how their research benefits the crop growers," Farthing noted. We needed to show specific growth cycles and demonstrate the everyday benefits of using Headline fungicide. Peter hooked us up with a top-notch illustrator and a group of amazing animators that we never should have been able to afford."

Barg assembled a team from around the country that included Portland, Oregon-based visual designer and illustrator Arthur Mount, who provided art for the print campaign, as well as style frames for the animation team led by Jason Strougo. "We felt the greatest challenge was to choreograph CG environments and camera moves that could be applied to all four spots while keeping the action flowing. Each spot highlights a different crop with its own growth cycle and idiosyncrasies, blended with typographic elements and transitions," Chomowicz noted.

Softimage XSI was chosen for two reasons to create the CGI character animation; first, its 2D toon shading feature allowed a lot of flexibility in achieving the right look. Secondly, Softimage's superior character control and unique Renderpass system allowed the CGI animators to mix and match 3D elements without having to rebuild scenes. This allowed several animators to work concurrently and share data, instead of having to update each other.

According to Rob Issen, the most demanding creative challenge was building a single bulls-eye to skytop telescoping zoom that included a realistic time lapse growth cycle of four different crops-one for each spot. "We just about took Agronomy 101 learning the intricacies of these plants. The agency and client both provided valuable support making the final completely accurate. From there, all we had to do was make it look beautiful."

"BASF deserves a lot of credit for taking a risk and picking an idea they knew would stand out," says Tim Farthing. "There is nothing else like this in Ag right now.

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Client: BASF, Inc., (Raleigh, NC)
Agency: Brighton (St Louis, MO) (Executive Creative Director: Tim Farthing Sr. Copywriter: Melinda Wrigley Producer: Sue Willing

Production Company: Z Animation (Los Angeles, CA) Executive Producer/Producer: Peter Barg Director: David Chomowicz Producer: Co-Director: Rob Issen Visual Design: Arthur Mount Lead Animator: Jason Strougo Character Animator: Maurice Caicedo CG Artists: Mike McKenna, Pramod Medichalam

Post Production: Splash (New York, NY) Flame Artists: Kate O'Neill, Nelson Rowe

Audio Post: Visiontracks (St. Louis, MO) Engineer: Stan Piekarski, Soundhound, (New York, NY) Engineer: Roger Licari

Music: DHMA (New York, NY) Composers: Ben Zebelman, John Fields Producer: Jan Horowitz


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Related Keywords:Z Animation, BASF, CGI, David Chomowicz, Rob Issen, Peter Barg, Brighton/St Louis, Tim Farthing, Melinda Wrigley, Sue Willing, Arthur Mount, Jason Strougo, Softimage XSI,


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