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Brooks

Bra and Shorts

Coming quickly on the heels of the successful Hyperion video, Brooks reached out to us with another heavily illustrated and animated project. This time they were also looking to us for our live action chops. We dug in only to find the early stages of the pandemic hot on our heels.

Having to eventually concede the race we put the production on hiatus and buttoned up the animation side as much as possible. While the pandemic was in full swing, Brooks had been putting off production projects out of an abundance of caution and not wanting to contribute to infection spikes. By fall of 2020 the infection rates had fallen and we were given the green light, with caveats.

We needed to shoot locations that would be isolated, with minimal crew, and as efficiently as possible. We also needed to shoot footage for multiple projects all at the same time. Check out this story…

Corporate | 3D | 2D Animation | Cel Animation | Editorial | Compositing | Color Correction

A Long crazy ride!

ECD: Bobby Hougham
Director: Bobby Hougham
Director of Photography: Noah Schutz
CD: Bobby Hougham, Sevrin Daniels
Editor: Joanny Causse
Design/Illustration: Lindsey Mayer-Beug
2D Animation/Compositing: Roberto Brambila, Andy Musser, Ryan Davies, Bryce Stines
Cel Animation: John Maggiora, James Webber
Color Correction: Eric Edwards
Produced by: Kim Adelman, Steiner Kierce
Executive Producer: Andrew Kobliska

Sound Design/Foley/Mix: John Buroker (HEARby)

Client: Brooks
CD: Mike Peck
Senior Design/AD: Lucas Fuentes
Senior Brand Designer: Sean Buknam
Graphic Design: Natalie Vukic
Senior Manager/Copy: Nikolaus Drellow
Digital Copy Manager: Katherine Pletzke
Global Creative Producer: Carolyn Draayer
Producer: Steve Gray, Dan Paquin

ECD: Bobby Hougham
Director: Bobby Hougham
Director of Photography: Noah Schutz
CD: Bobby Hougham, Sevrin Daniels
Editor: Joanny Causse
Design/Illustration: Lindsey Mayer-Beug
2D Animation/Compositing: Roberto Brambila, Andy Musser, Ryan Davies, Bryce Stines
Cel Animation: John Maggiora, James Webber
Color Correction: Eric Edwards
Produced by: Kim Adelman, Steiner Kierce
Executive Producer: Andrew Kobliska

Sound Design/Foley/Mix: John Buroker (HEARby)

Client: Brooks
CD: Mike Peck
Senior Design/AD: Lucas Fuentes
Senior Brand Designer: Sean Buknam
Graphic Design: Natalie Vukic
Senior Manager/Copy: Nikolaus Drellow
Digital Copy Manager: Katherine Pletzke
Global Creative Producer: Carolyn Draayer
Producer: Steve Gray, Dan Paquin

The Process

This project was started right as the pandemic was getting its first wave, we were manically sprinting trying to get a production in before we were completely shut down. Locations shifted three to four times and about 9 different shooting solutions were created to weave the bra and shorts videos together. After the shutdown happened, The New Blank shifted to working remotely and finished up all principle animation. We then put the project on ice for the rest of the spring and summer.

Due to the production hiatus, there were many videos needing footage in the queue beyond the initial Bra and Shorts tech videos. So when production was again green lit in the fall, we went to work to figure out how we could get as much footage shot efficiently and economically. To that end, we consolidated the shoot to 4 locations with the most flexibility of scenery, we shot for 2 days with 4 cameras including stills and a drone.

Finding Locations

This was likely to be the only production Brooks was going to be able to do for 2020, as such there was a lot of water to carry. So we needed to find locations that were covid safe with plenty of space for people to work without being on top of each other as well as flexible in scenery.

The Bra video was a story of two women going on an epic run through town, park and across country culminating in an awe inspiring view. Whereas the Shorts Tech video was fairly contained to just a park setting and the pickup shots for the Brand video we were in the process of producing needed some options as well. There was also a desire for generic running shots and heel strikes etc that the Brooks team could use throughout the year.

All of these videos were going to release simultaneously so we needed to make sure none of them looked the same.

Location scouting Upper Castaic Lake for Brooks Bra

Lights, Cameras, Action!

We were shooting with multiple cameras on most shots to get as much mileage out of every setup possible. Oftentimes we would have our A camera working looking one direction for a Bra shot and immediately behind that setup would be our Drone or a B camera shooting the other way for Shorts. And in the middle of all that, our DP would and AC would grab DSLR’s and shoot stills for print and digital use.

Building the Pieces and Parts

Every scene had been illustrated in individual layers. We then evaluated each component to decide if it made sense to use our digital/analog animation technique or if it necessitated traditional hand drawn animation. If it was a single shape element that was just transforming over time, often times that would go to the digital/analog animation technique. The more complex transformations would oftentimes go into the traditional bucket. And there were some where we just thought it would look better to be hand animated.

Regardless of the techniques used to make the elements move, we would break down each scene into pieces and parts and animate those individually. Creating this toolkit helped as there were some elements that would be leveraged over to other scenes.

Here you can see a small collection of some of the pieces and parts we animated for our toolkit.

Digital/Traditional Animation Technique

The technique starts with simple or semi complex mask animations. We have found simple works better; simple shapes, simple movements, it all helps the look. Here you see some of the transitions we animated using this technique. Largely made of circles moving in a nearly straight line, this animation couldn’t get much simpler. There are modifiers to the shape to create the hand drawn irregularities, relative position shifts, and overall shape deformers again to account for the hand drawn look. Drawing the masks to look stretched in the direction of travel acts as a sort of illustrated motion blur. You can see the shapes clearer on the slowed down animation, then at speed to see how the effect works.

The Digital/Analog technique isn’t used as a way to get around traditional style animation, but rather a way to quickly augment the animation toolkit. This is a process that helps increase productivity by reducing the time-intensive techniques to those areas where it would shine, and allow the faster processes to fill the gaps where they shine.

The Animation Comes Together

As the pieces and parts were finished, they would be gathered by whomever was working on the individual scene and timed out and composited. Sometimes elements were kicked back for modification. Sometimes due to layout, or sometimes when the footage was dropped in, we would modify the art to better accommodate the image blocking.

Here you can see a few of the elements produced for a scene and how they were used in the final composite.

Color and Final Composite

While the color was specified in the original directors treatment, there is still some work to bring the imagery shot in line with that vision. Invariably we will discover at various points in the process that the spot may benefit from a tweaked or altered color direction.

Animation storyboards

Bra and shorts had two totally different looks. The Shorts tech video was more straight forward as a live action edit with minimal animation overlaid on top. But the Bra video called for a much more integrated illustration/animation and live action look and feel. The story had to be told relying heavily on both working together. In planning our shots, we ended up approaching this as though this were a VFX spot.

Every shot was gamed out with illustrations so we could make our shot and location decisions for production appropriately.

You guys are the shit. Thank you!

Lucas Fuentes

Brooks Running

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