Drawing outside the lines for United.

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As more commercials animation work goes hybrid or 3-D, it's almost shocking to see traditional 2-D spots that aren't aimed at a kids' audience. But Fallon/Minneapolis went 2-D to attract a sophisticated business-class clientele in its latest spots for United. "The primary target is the business traveler, but a broader objective is to create a brand campaign that really elevates the brand at every touchpoint, with a real look and feel," says Fallon GCD/writer Stuart D'Rozario.

The four spots, two of which are currently airing, tell the stories of travelers and the ways in which flying with United touches their lives. In "Interview," co-directed by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis, a man flies to an important job interview, while director Joanna Quinn's "Lightbulb" shows how quickly a business idea can spread, as a woman presents an idea and watches it grow. Of the directors selected by Fallon for the four spots, three are represented by Hollywood-based Acme Filmworks-including Tilby, Forbis, Quinn and Michael Dudok de Wit-while Russian animator Alexandre Petrov works through Montreal-based animation house PPB-MEX.

In making the spots, initial drawings were edited into a final cut before the artists started animating. "Once they start painting and animating, all of the time has to be locked in," says D'Rozario. "Probably a week or two into the process, we finalized the edit and spent three months working on the animation." Quinn, whose distinctive style utilizes pencil-sketched line drawings, had minimal color added in postproduction, making for a relatively simple process, but "Interview" production was much more complicated. Filming models in DV, the directors made a final cut, then heavily manipulated selected frames using Flash animation. Next, they printed out and painted frames and scanned them back into the computer,to be colored with Photoshop.

The third spot, "Rose," will debut on Mother's Day. Directed by Petrov, who is best known for his Oscar-winning short The Old Man and the Sea, the spot employs his trademark oil paints on glass technique. Dudok de Wit's spot, "A Life," will follow in June. While the styles offer different looks, "all the work is hand-created, requiring a real personal touch and a sense of nonuniformity," says Ron Diamond, executive producer at Acme Filmworks.

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