We knew there was something we liked about the new branding campaign for Citibank from Fallon/Minneapolis (see page 15). Four of the five spots - "Bunny Face," "Trombone," "Splurge," and "Ukulele" - were directed by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, an apt choice for understated moments of people making faces, playing hacky-sack, and, in the case of the last spot, singing an incredibly catchy tune about Waikiki. This is the second time in less than a year that Fallon has teamed with Morris, who also directed the agency's recent "Stay Curious" campaign for PBS. Chelsea Pictures has signed London-based design shop Hi-Res to LD, its online marketing division, which already includes Blair Witch masterminds The Haxans and Flash-jockeys JibJab. Hi-Res' challenging designs include a surreal promotional site for Artisan Pictures' Requiem for a Dream (requiemforadream.com) and an online museum of "antibanners" (soulbath.com). "People who get interested in content on the web are more intimately involved with a product," says Chelsea president Steve Wax of his growing stable of avant online talent. "Right now there's enough intriguing stuff on the edges of the net that if we can harness it and turn advertisers on to it, we can entertain people and also push products." J.J. Sedelmaier, of Beavis and Butt-head and Fun With Real Audio fame, provides animation for a new campaign for Hotwire by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. The quartet of spots features airline safety illustrations come to life (left), demonstrating how not to get ripped off buying airline tickets, and what will happen if you do. On the inevitability of bringing the stilted diagrams to life, Sedelmaier says: "Those things look so stupid to begin with. They look like drawings with live action characters trying to get out." Charlex, the New York-based design/post house whose recent spots include work for Sprint and the U.S. Mint, has launched an interactive division, Grain. Last year, Charlex undertook the task of redesigning the website for AOL Moviefone, opening the door to online design. "That's what got me realizing I totally belong in this business," says Charlex founder and creative director Alex Weil. According to Weil, monthly visitors to Moviefone.com went from 1.5 million to 2.5 million in the six months after the Charlex redesign. 3-D effects are one thing. A whole 3-D dude is another. Venice, Calif.-based Blur Studio recently took on the task of animating the virtual spokesperson for comparison-shopping website MySimon.com. In the Leo Burnett spot, the mascot-like Simon chats up a group of non-virtual cocktail party patrons. As Blur CD Tim Miller explains: "Conceptually, he's a character, but he's going into a real environment and you have to decide what part of the character to keep." For example, says Miller, animators found that natural motion seemed unnatural when applied to Simon and human-like skin made him seem "creepy."
Got production news? E-mail Jim Hanas at [email protected]