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Paul Wallace from ACD DDB Toronto, David Hicks, Sons and Daughter’s director and Denis Turner AXYZ Animator have shared with us some details about the new Salty spots and the making of the CG Salty character.
IT'S ART : What do you think make these new spots different?
Paul Wallace, ACD DDB Toronto : Salty received a huge amount
of fan mail after the first spot aired, say , so when the opportunity
arose to revisit the character, everyone jumped on board. This
time, however, we thought it might be fun to give people a
grittier, "behind the scenes" peek into Salty's lonely
world. The two new spots feel less like typical commercials,
and more like home videos. We wanted them to feel as authentic
and as minimal as possible. As sad as the first spot was, there's
something even more pathetic about seeing Salty face the cold
realities of the real world.
I.A : Salty was pretty down and out in the first spot, tell
me where you wanted to take Salty in these follow up spots?
David Hicks : The first spot was the introduction to Salty, so we wanted the film and production level to feel as big and cinematic as possible. This was a nice contrast to the size and demeanor of our little lost salt shaker. The objective of the second round of to still push the “down and out” vibe, but shoot with a little more edge and reality. We approached it with a little more of a “day in a life” attitude.
I.A : Tell me about the shooting schedule and working with a CG hero.
David Hicks : The shooting schedule was very tight (as usual) but in terms of allocating time between production and post… we tried to give the guys at AXYZ the most time. It’s the small nuances of Salty’s performance that make the spot and he showed up in spades yet again.
I.A. : Tell me a bit about working with AXYZ on these spots.
Dennis is the main animator that has given his heart and soul to Salty… in fact we joke, “he is Salty”. This has been a great collaboration working with all the guys at AXYZ… great team.
I.A. : How was working on these two new spots different than the first Salty spot?
Denis Turner - The only difference was that I didn't have
to build the characters or set up the base shading on them;
that had been done already for the first spot. All the
animation, lighting, rendering and comping still had to be
done specifically for each spot. Having established procedures
in place from the first spot did help me turn the spots around
I.A. : Any new challenges this time?
Denis Turner - There were a couple of new props, like Salty's neck brace,
that had to be constructed and shaded, but that was a pretty straightforward
task; not really a challenge per se. The best new challenge for me
was animating Salty in stories with more comedy that played more to his
personality. That was great fun, especially whacking him on the head
with the laptop lid. Poor poor hapless salty.
I.A. : - Please outline what software was used in the creation of the spots.
Denis Turner - Houdini for character rigging, animation, lighting ,shading, and rendering. PFtrack for 3D camera tracking. Inferno for final compositing.
I.A. : Anything else you think I should know?
Denis Turner - Not really. The spots were about taking the character of Salty that was already established and running with it to produce memorably funny and entertaining stories. I think we succeeded and I had fun in the process. I hope there are more.
David Hicks : I do a cameo...! (David is the man in the Diner).