If wireless customers were to conjure up a utopian world where cellular services had the capability to meet their every need and its technology functioned in perfect harmony with their lives, it could not surpass the mythical ‘Bluephoria,’ an idyllic state crafted by CRASH+SUES for Bluegrass Cellular. Pushing creative boundaries, 2D and 3D animation, visual FX, motion design, color correction, creative editing and finishing were seamlessly integrated with live-action footage directed by Two Popes’ Jerry Pope to create a whimsical package of spots rich with visual imagery for Bandy Carroll Hellige/Louisville.
“CRASH+SUES began collaborating with Two Popes during the pre-production phase of the project to ensure that both the production company and post house fully optimized the campaign’s vision. We started going back and forth exchanging ideas and approaches about a month before the shoot and continued right up until the week the spots were shot,” online editor Mark Anderson explains. “It was a first-rate working relationship. BCH and Two Popes brought us inspiring ideas and then we focused on coming up with the best ways to bring them to life.”
“My team is a collaborative group of consummate creative problem-solvers. They thrive on the challenge of creating new innovative solutions…’Bluephoria’ provided an ideal opportunity to do just that,” remarks Donna Drewick, executive producer of the award-winning animation house recently awarded a Clio for their animation.
“The client’s previous spots were strictly live action, whereas this campaign brought it to a whole new level with the integration of various animation techniques along with the full gamut of FX. We had everything from a CGed pie pool and muffin truck to sunshine, lollipops and dancing radio towers. About the only thing missing was a rainbow,” notes Drewick.
The voiceover sets up the visual elements of the spot: “There’s a place that feels more connected, where life is more agreeable, more reliable, more delightful to be there, where there’s a blissful feeling of satisfaction with your wireless phone, your plan and your service. It’s the state of Bluephoria, and you can only get there by way of Bluegrass Cellular.”
To bring this narrative to life, the mythical Bluephoria became the centerpiece for the spots, and CRASH+SUES populated it with an extraordinary number of animated elements and live action enhancements, while colorist Sue Lakso created a vibrant color palette, which added to the surreal atmosphere.
The spot opens in a rustic field on the outskirts of a silhouetted iconic small town as an image of a sun emanates rays of light from the screen of a large-scale cellular phone sitting on the horizon. The viewer is transported to a fanciful world bursting at the seams with an array of animation and meticulously detailed visual FX. Countless animated elements bring this intensely detailed spot to life: window transformed into 3D winking eyes, a customer’s virtual order flying back to the kitchen, animated cider splashing into glasses, mobile phones – with vibrant red apples comped into their screens - hanging from a tree ripe for the picking, a bronze statue of Lincoln raising a phone to his ear, an animated Ferris wheel with cell phone cages, a busy ‘Main Street’ lined with lollipop trees and dressed with dozens of composited details.
The commercial closes with a sign that reads, ‘Welcome to Bluephoria (Population: Happy)’ in the foreground, as animated clouds are towed by a plane over the surreal world which is revealed in its entirety in a wide shot overflowing with an array of animation and visual fanfare.
CRASH+SUES creative editor Carrie Shanahan cut Two Popes’ live action footage, establishing the rather tricky, fast-paced timing as scene after scene unfolds. Lakso performed two color correction passes: one base pass to set a feel-good look across the footage and a second to highlight specific shots after the spot was composited. After Shanahan’s cut was locked, Anderson loaded the RED footage into Autodesk’s Discreet Smoke where he shared assets with the animation team.
3D animator Alex Engelmann worked with director Jerry Pope to devise a wish list of the animation and FX elements. “We had a lot of freedom to design these elements and see them through,” he notes. “Each layer added would entice them to add more.” “Which can almost become deadly,” interjects Anderson teasingly.
The animators divided up the list, tasking Engelmann with crafting the lollipop trees and a pizza-wheel bicycle cart. He also erased the façade from an old building and rebuilt it in 3D to give it animated eyebrow windows while Anderson rotoscoped the skateboarders riding past the expressed building as well as the townspeople in the parade scene and then composited most of the sky replacements. Flame artist Adam Celt created map-styled streets and composited the balance of the spot in Autodesk’s Flame.
"Compositing all of the elements into the spot was definitely challenging but also a lot of fun,” notes Celt. “Everyone became so immersed in the world we created we couldn't resist adding more elements. I think it paid off.” Anderson adds, “The Bluegrass Cellular client was extremely happy with the final spot, and we’re all very proud of it as well.”
"Sean Hall created a diverse mix of 2D and traditionally animated elements for the spot, as well as the holographic phone projections. Additionally, he also composited the final shot, which features a rising pullback view of the town."
Echo Boys, CRASH+SUES’ sister company, created the original music and sound design for the spots. The music for ‘Bluephoria’ was composed to have a pop, "All is beautiful with the world," feeling. It’s very happy, innocent and melodic with lots of harmony. The all live instrumental track was performed by Echo Boys, with Alex weaving in the sounds of the marching band for the end scene.
CRASH+SUES is an award-winning creative post and visual effects company specializing in the seamless integration of animation, FX, motion design, color correction, creative editing, finishing and multimedia services.