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Friday, March 07, 2008

Arsenal Launches; Completes Six-Spot Animated Promo Campaign for FX Network’s Season Two of Dirt


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LOS ANGELES, CA – Executive producer Michele Maples has launched Arsenal, a new live -action and design oriented production company, and has completed its first assignment -- a new six-spot promo campaign for season two of FX Network’s hit show Dirt, starring Courtney Cox. The promos, directed and designed by Emmy-award winner designer/director Vonetta Taylor, feature 2D, 3D animation and a captivating rotoscoping technique applied to the live action footage that gives the campaign a colorful, pop art /comic book look.
“Arsenal represents an array of top-notch directors, designers and creative talent from around the world and matches their skills to the specific needs of the project,” explained Maples. “These days our clients are looking for more than the one-size-fits-all approach you find at many design studios and production companies. Because we have a ready ‘arsenal’ of directors as part of our talent network, we were able to respond quickly to our clients needs. The
Dirt project for FX Network is great example of the kind of diverse creative resource we can be for our clients.”
The inspiration for the Dirt promo campaign was FX’s print campaign projecting actress Courtney Cox, who plays the editor of Dirt Now, a Hollywood gossip magazine, as a wonder woman/super hero presiding over Hollywood. The challenge for Arsenal was to bring these single print frames to life without compromising the spirit of the style.
“The reason we called Michele is that she has a proven and extensive track record as a visual effects producer, coupled with her associations with top directorial talent,” said Stephanie Gibbons, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Promotions for FX Networks in Los Angeles. “We worked as a team with Arsenal and did a lot of brainstorming upfront, and then they took it from there, handling the live action direction, design, and post production of the spots.”
Taylor, who previously won an Emmy award for her work on the design of the show open to Carnivale, the highly rated HBO original series, explained that developing the stylized look of these promos, which was influenced in part by the art of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, the Richard Linkletter film A Scanner Darkly and comic book illustration, was a collaborative process between Arsenal and FX Networks and that the challenge was not to mimic any one look but rather establish a fresh, unique style of its own. Taylor’s recent work includes the title sequence for the 2007 movie Shoot ‘em Up and a montage sequence in the movie Alvin and the Chipmonks.
“I define myself as a designer who is very much a problem solver so that when a client comes to me with a need, I design specifically to those needs,” said Taylor. “In developing this animation style, we had to move in a sure-footed way because time didn’t permit missteps or trial and error.”
The six promos show vignettes of Hollywood stars and celebutants caught in the act of wild, unbecoming behavior, punctuated by a clever comment from Dirt’s editor. In one spot, entitled “Lights, Camera, Mugshot!” we see a carload of partying female celebrities speeding down a California highway. A police siren quickly ends the party as we quickly see the disheveled starlet posing for a mug shot and going to jail. The spot ends with an animated Cox looking at the camera and asking sarcastically “where’s a stylist when you need one?”
“Since the target audience is Women 18-34, we wanted to be certain that our pop art comic book style was not mistaken as a throwback to the 1960’s or any other decade, but rather a contemporary look that is decidedly 2008,” said Julie Graham, Director of Production for FX Networks.
Adds Taylor, “This technique involved taking live action footage shot in front of a green screen and then creating 2D and 3D CG-animated backgrounds to compliment the illustrative style we developed for the rotoscoped live action characters. The challenge was the schedule. We were delivering six fully animated spots in five weeks, so there wasn’t a lot of time for trial and error. We had to nail it the first time around.”
Flatblack Films, Austin, TX, who have developed proprietary software and workflow to automate the rotoscoping animation process quickly and efficiently contributed to the campaign. To watch the Arsenal produced spots for FX Network’s Dirt :
Click Here

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