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Calabash Animation animates Captain Night Night for Frosted Cheerios
Calabash Animation just completed animation work for Frosted Cheerios that brings to animated life Captain Night Night, a zany wrestling character that spends his time trying to wrestle a live action teenager back to bed. As the teen tries to get out of bed, Captain Night Night tries to lull him back to bed but the teen awakens to the cravings of Frosted Cheerios. The Chicago-based production studio got the call and in the span of five days, animated the character and shot and finished the spot without the aid of a greenscreen. Executive Producer Sean Henry discusses some of the challenges that arose with Captain Night Night, as well as some of the tools used to help create the spot.
DMN: Why did you go with Flash as opposed to a 3D character for the Cheerios spot?
Sean Henry: The art direction called for something a bit zany and unusual, and the turnaround was extremely short. 3D would have required way more time to build and rig the character, and it would have resulted in a very different look.
DMN: What other applications were used in Adobe's Create Suite?
SH: After Effects was used for the compositing. We used Photoshop for concept designs, storyboards and layout.
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DMN: What hardware platform was Captain Night Night created on?
SH: The project was completed entirely on Mac workstations with Wacom Cintiq tablet displays.
DMN: What other applications were used to create Captain Night Night?
SH: Final Cut Pro was used to a limited extent.
DMN: How many versions of the Cheerios Wrestler did you come up with before you went with the Masked, hairy armed, ZZZ wrestler, Captain Night Night?
SH: Our artists initially came up with about a half-dozen rough concepts. The agency had a very clear idea of what they were looking for, so they were able to provide visual reference and good art direction.
DMN: You mention that there was no greenscreen used to develop the shot. How was Captain Night Night fit with the foreground and background of the live action footage? What types of challenged arised from this?
SH: We created mattes in After Effects for any parts of the live action that would interact or overlap with the animated character. We had to deal with things like motion blur and hair and one or two shots that had very slow, subtle motion that had to be tracked very carefully. Several shots involved the character physically wrestling with the live action kid, so a lot of careful planning was involved to layer the elements correctly. Rig removal and editorial was done by Northern Lights Post, New York.
DMN: Turnaround time was short. How many artists were used to fit the animated character with the live action footage and how many hours did it take?
SH: Four artists worked around the clock for a three-day marathon creating mattes and compositing.
DMN: How many weeks to complete Captain Night Night from conception and storyboard to final output?
SH: All of the animation for the spot was done in five days, from initial concept sketches to final picture.
DMN: Will there be any more Captain Night Night/Frosted Cheerios spots?
SH: We hope so. Getting to help develop a potentially new brand icon is an exciting and rare opportunity.
DMN: What is coming up for Calabash Animation?
SH: We have some new projects that are taking us into new territory with animation and effects with live action. We have been expanding our CG capabilities with new personnel and equipment, and expect to be seeing a lot more Flash and CG animation jobs coming in this year.
John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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