Bent Image Labs’ Ken Lidster recently directed another brilliantly hilarious stop-motion spot, this time in conjunction with Deutsch/LA to promote the Diet Dr Pepper brand. I Exist is a stop-motion extravaganza that evokes the Stop-motion/Rudolph animation specials of old. The :30 features an unlikely cast of fantastic characters arranged in a circle of chairs as part of the “I exist!” support group. The Easter Bunny, a leprechaun, the Tooth Fairy, Sasquatch, and an alien sit in a circle listening raptly as Santa Claus complains about not being believed by his core constituents.
When the circle’s Diet Dr Pepper delivery man empathizes, Santa doubts that he could understand his plight. The Easter Bunny samples the drink and goes crazy over its tremendous flavor. Still, the other mythical creatures are skeptical. “So you want people to believe there’s a satisfying diet drink? Good luck with that one, Bub,” Santa says, as the entire cast launches into uncontrollable laughter.
“You can wait your whole life and never get a commercial script with such an outstanding plot. I thought this was the best thing I’d ever read before I even got to the end of the first sentence,” noted Lidster. “The folks at Deutsch really hit a home run with this one, and I’m so glad they looked to Bent to make this happen.”
The process for creating this campaign parallels work Lidster established for JWT New York a few years back. Lipton Brisk’s Dojo featured a stop-motion battle between martial arts legend Bruce Lee, the Karate Kid and his master, Mr. Miyagi, which earned an animation category honor in the 2000 AICP Show and inclusion in the MoMA’s film archives. Lidster also directed memorable stop-motion campaigns for Chips Ahoy, while Bent Image is known for countless `Rudolph’ inspired visuals including OfficeMax (Santa’s Helper) with Eddie Steeples, AFLAC with an animated flying goose, and two Alltel campaigns.
Lidster and the rest of the Bent team worked closely with the agency on all stages of the project, from developing the characters’ personalities, going from character sketches through a variety of clay models to pop through staging, and final animation performance. Deutsch also visited Bent’s Portland studio several times to approve pre-production elements, final lighting, initial scene preparation, post production, and final color correct.
Bent created duplicates of the set and triples of the nine-inch-high characters to streamline production. They then shot the stop-motion on high-res digital cameras. Certain shots, such as the soda pour, were done on one of the studio’s in-house Red cameras, using the Red Ultra Prime lenses.
“Ken is a master when it comes to projects such as this,” noted Bent Partner/EP Ray Di Carlo. “He’s second-to-none with character development and has an amazing attention to detail work ethic. In typical Bent fashion, the team rallied together to create the entire campaign in-house. The agency came to us with a great idea and we’re fortunate they were such strong collaborators – we’re really happy with the final product.”
About Bent Image Lab:
Bent Image Lab is a Portland Oregon-based production company and creative laboratory, known for melding art, design and storytelling. It is a place where the brightest ideas are driven with an artist’s passion and realized through the use of cutting edge technology. Established in 2002, BENT specializes in wildly creative spots and videos that range from the frenetic to the deeply moving. Saturday Night Live, Coca-Cola, Lux Soap, Aflac, Budweiser, Guitar Hero, HP, PBS, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Live Earth, and film directors Todd Haynes and Gus Van Sant, are just a few of the high-profile clients that have called on BENT for some of their quirky, highly-original work.
Client: Diet Dr Pepper
Spots Title: I Exist
Air Date: September 2009
Agency: Deutsch, LA
President/Chief Creative Officer: Eric Hirshberg
SVP/Group CD: Chris Ribiero
Sr. Designer: Marius Gedgaudas
Sr. Producer: Tracy Jones
SVP, Group Account Director: Valencia Gayles
Account Director: Helen Murray
Prod Co: Bent Image Lab/Portland, OR
Director: Ken Lidster
EP: Ray Di Carlo
Sr Producer: Tsui Ling Toomer
Producer: Kara Place
Coordinator: Ryan Shanholtzer
DP: Mark Eifert
Product Shoot DP: Jay Wesley Jones
Stage Manager: Jim Birkett
AD/Set Designer: Curt Enderle
Art Department Director: Solomon Burbridge
Art Department: Greg Fosmire, Marty Easterday, Kimi Kaplowitz, Mary Blankenburg, Daniel Miller, Huy Vu, Jayme Hansen, Kate Fenker, Brandi Cochrane
Storyboard Artist: Steve Hess
Character Design: Brett Superstar, Steve Hess, Monique Ligons, Colin Batty
Principal Animators: Jerold Howard, Jeff Riley
Editorial Supervisor: JD Dawson
After Effects Supervisor: Tarn Fox
Composite Artists (After Effects): Orland Nutt, Brian Kinkley, Jay Twenge, Sean Saul
Composite Artists (2D): Traci Cook
Post Prod: Downstream/Portland, OR
Colorist: Jim Barrett