Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Follow the Bouncing Balls (and Bunnies)

Fresh on the heels of bouncing balls in San Francisco and a tower of paint in Glasgow, bunnies are taking to the streets of Manhattan. 200 plasticine bunnies, to be exact – hopping around the city, leading us toward a huge 30-foot bunny looming over Thomas Paine Park in Lower Manhattan.

This television advertisement, titled "Play-doh," was released earlier this month by Fallon London. It is the latest in their ambitious advertising campaign for Sony Bravia. And, like nearly all things we review on Fight.Boredom, it's fun, well-executed, and inspiring.

"Play-doh" follows in the footsteps of the mesmerizing "Balls" and the explosive "Paint" adverts, all using the same stop-and-go claymation technique popularized by Wallace and Gromit and Robot Chicken.

Sony Bravia "Play-doh"

Backing the "Colour like no other" tagline of Sony's campaign to push Bravia high-definition LCD TVs, "Play-doh" features rabbits ranging from 10cm to 10m in height. A team of 40 animators spent three weeks choreographing the models to create the 100,000 still images required to produce the 60-second ad. They also used 150 1ft cubes, created a 200 square foot purple plasticine crashing wave and made a whale "swim" through the streets of Manhattan. Ultimately, the ad required animators to manipulate 2.5 tons of plasticine – all while locals went about their daily lives in and around the elaborate sets.

"Technically this is the most difficult thing I have ever done," said the ad's director, Frank Budgen. "It is an incredibly difficult situation to control. You have New Yorkers wandering through frames and you have no say over it because we're doing it for real."

If this effort sounds impressive (as it should) consider the work required to execute the previous ads in the Bravia campaign. For the pilot ad, "Balls," artists released 250,000 bouncing balls on San Francisco.

Sony Bravia "Balls"

And for its follow up, "Paint," artists created an elaborate pyrotechnical paint display in Glasgow that required 70,000 liters (18,500 US gallons) of paint, 1,700 detonators, 455 mortars, 622 bottle bombs, 65 camera positions and a crew of 200 people to capture a kaleidoscope of paint exploding on a disused council block in Glasgow.

Sony Bravia "Paint"

But the newest edition to the Bravia campaign has attracted a fair share of critics. Observers have pointed out a distinct conceptual similarity between "Play-doh" and a panorama illustration by Los Angeles-based art duo Kozyndan.

But regardless of "Play-doh"'s imitation, coincidental similarity, or outright theft, the ad remains a masterpiece of execution of scope. In an era when the vast majority of animated "real-world" advertisements rely on CGI, Fallon London's refreshing low-tech animation is a delight to behold.

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