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The animation and film collective behind some of the most conceptually and visually innovative shorts and music videos to emerge from the thriving Parisian scene has made its first major foray into the realm of U.S. advertising. Pleix, the seven-member team behind heady videos for Basement Jaxx, Plaid and Kid606, as well as a spread of wildly varied short-film and installation projects recently wrapped its first U.S. campaign for Pontiac and Leo Burnett/Detroit. Themed "Pontiac: Designed for action," the three-spot campaign is laden with meticulously chiseled electronic backgrounds of living light. In one :30, "EQ," a prismatic palette of colors replaces the urban backdrop and pulses to an electronic beat while the Pontiac cruises by. In another, "Swarm," a glowing mass of techno plankton swirl by the subject vehicle's contoured hull. "Worlds," a 60-second execution set to the pleasing drone of Franco fuzz-rockers M83 combines both effects, with a myriad of sheet metal cruising through an electronic reality of shimmering building faces, motes of electronic gauze and pulsing accents. Pleix completed the project through Diane McArter's new Los Angeles production company Furlined and its partner company, London animation specialty shop Blink.Ink. The effects were done with the Mill, London.

Pleix's nucleus is a group of graphic designers, 3-D artists, musicians and filmmakers who have been co-creating visuals and installations since the late '90s. Beauty Kit, a short film dissecting the societal pressures on young women to adapt to the universal standard of feminine beauty, was created in 2001. In 2002 Pleix created "Itsu," a music video for Plaid that caught the attention of record labels and production companies, and they were soon signed to nascent music video powerhouse Colonel Blimp, now part of Blink/Furlined. The Pontiac project had its roots in an idea Pleix had for a U2 promo about "creating a city of light and using long-exposure light trails to connect the band's movements to their environment." Working from three briefs, Pleix and the Leo Burnett creative team, Jon Cymbal and Brian Cusac, fleshed out the idea and the team then headed to Vancouver and shot the cars with DP Gary Waller in an enormous industrial space. Waller "built a unique lighting rig that was basically enormous adjustable soft lights," recounts Pleix-er Eric Augier. "This allowed us to utilize tracking vehicles, cranes, rigs and the full repertoire of car shooting equipment to get dynamic shots, while always keeping the car in a uniform beauty light. We did five days of shooting without a single light change."

The spots are easily the most sophisticated 3-D/composite job yet for Pleix, and the Mill created a temporary dual Flame/3-D suite to finish the job. The collective had already done a French Audi spot, which mirrored the splintered city effect they had first created in their landmark 2004 video for Kid 606, "Sometimes." The Pontiac work is now airing in the U.S. and the Pleix group have turned their attentions back to a personal project, a new short-film piece that is already the subject of much anticipation in the digital arts community. But advertising work is increasingly a primary focus for the group.

"We met Diane McArter in Paris earlier this year when she was setting up Furlined with Blink in the U.S. and we decided to go with them," says Augier. "Pontiac came up immediately, so it's a very promising start, but, ideally, our next job in the U.S. will not be for cars."

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