- Friday, Jun. 15, 2012
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The J20 juice drink is the perfect beverage to imbibe while socializing. In fact, it can make any gathering more fun, and even cats and dogs can get along while drinking it.
That's the rather offbeat story we see played out in "A Bottle of Togetherness," a delightful new spot created by BBH London.
Directed by Daniels, a directing duo made up of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert and represented by London and Los Angeles-based Prettybird, the commercial has as its stars human/animal hybrids--think real cat and dog heads on human bodies--pieced together by London's Absolute Post.
The 40-second spot opens on a pack of dogs jumping out of a cab and strutting into a party full of cats. But are they welcome? When the dogs walk in, the music stops. (A track called Pussy Cat by DJ Yoda and featuring Mr. David Viner accompanies the commercial.)
But after the feline hostess takes a bottle of J20 brought to the party by a pug and holds it up into the air for everyone to see, the festivities swing back into high gear. The cats and dogs enjoy a night of fun, dancing and downing J20.
There are some amusing bits of comedy. At one point, a cat offers a dog a scoop of canned cat food, and he refuses to eat it.
Later, one of the pooches is seen making out with a cat on the couch, and they're both sloppy kissers.
And then there is the romance. At the end of the spot, the kitty hostess is seen cuddling with the pug that brought the J20. They're lying together on a lounger up on the roof, staring up at the stars. Awww--
So why in the world feature cats and dogs in this spot?
"We wanted to use cats and dogs because they're famous for just not getting along," explained BBH's Justin Moore, who shared the title of creative director/copywriter/art director on this job along with his partner Hamish Pinnell. "And we wanted to put [their heads] on human bodies because they're not good at picking things up, like bottles of J20. And we thought it would be funnier."
The Daniels were hired to direct on the strength of a witty treatment and a strong reel.
"They brought just a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm, brilliant technical knowledge," Moore praised. "It's amazing how very accomplished they are. They're about twelve."
Believablity The Daniels, who are based in Los Angeles, were not available for an interview, but Prettybirds executive producer Ali Brown said of the directing duo's approach, "They wanted to let the comedy come from the juxtaposition of the real animal expressions--or lack thereof--with the very human narrative/love story they were creating. This meant that the marriage of animal facial expression to human body language had to be believable despite being impossible."
The directors worked with Absolute before the shoot to find solutions on how to achieve the desired effect in the most seamless way.
"After some initial testing using the office dogs, we found it really important to be able to connect the neck of the dog to the actor's body--a floating head would break the illusion," said Absolute senior Flame artist Phil Oldham. "In order to do this, we made a few special head tracking caps for the background artists, and the hero characters wore helmets that were built to look like the dog/cat heads.
"I must admit that the set looked rather unusual," continued Oldham. "People were partying in large cat and dog hats, wearing what appeared to be strange swimming caps."
The party scene was shot over two days in the East London apartment of taxidermy artist Polly Morgan. The venue made for a memorable experience. "There were loads of fridges full of half-stuffed animals," recollected BBH's Moore.
The cats and dogs were shot separately up against greenscreen in a variety of positions so that they could later be matched up to the positions of their human stand-ins.
Most of the greenscreen material for the commercial was shot at high speed. "In order to save time, we shot the cats and dogs together. We used two cameras at different angles running at the same time to cover the large number of heads needed," Oldham said. "Needless to say, shooting five cats and four dogs in three hours kept us busy."
Absolute animals Once the animal wrangling was done, the ensemble of talent at Absolute got in full swing and brought much to the table. They had the integral task of credibly meshing animals and humans.
"After selecting the best takes in terms of performances, we had to get them to sync," Absolute Post's Oldham related. "As you can imagine this was quite a lengthy process."
It was a process that required close collaboration. "We had our visual effects editor Mike Brown working alongside the compositors the entire time," said Oldham.
Beyond planting animal heads on human bodies in a convincing manner, Absolute Post's coterie of artisans also made tweaks, adjusting eye lines and adding a blink here and there. They added some atmosphere and lighting, too.
Editor Sam Jones of the London office of Cut + Run, which also has shops in L.A., N.Y. and Hong Kong, fashioned the footage into a spot.
"He did a great job because it was quite challenging," Moore said. "We really wanted to hold onto the love story between the pug and his cat girlfriend and keep in all the lovely gags we'd scripted."
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London Nick Gill, executive creative director; Hamish Pinnell, Justin Moore, creative directors/copywriters/art directors; Glenn Paton, producer. Production Company: PRETTYBIRD The Daniels, directors; Richard Stewart, DP; Ali Brown, executive producer; Steve Plesiak, producer. Editorial: Cut + Run, London Sam Jones, editor. Visual Effects: Absolute Post (London & New York) Phil Oldham, senior Flame artist; Michael Smith, Flame artist; Zdravko Stoitchkov, David De Min, assists; Jamie White, Huggy Stephens, Matt Burn, Ben Griffin, Dorrel Lynch, Frank Egan, CG artists; Dan Bennett, production; Mike Brown, FX editor. Audio: 750mph Joe Marsden, sound engineer.