Pearlridge Dinosaurs: Behind the Scenes

In July 2009, Pearlridge Center showcased a moving, roaring, animatronic Dinosaur exhibit throughout it’s mall grounds. In preparation for the exhibit, my production company Berad Studio was contracted by Anthology Marketing Group to write, direct and produce a 30 second television commercial to promote the exhibit.

The budget allotted didn’t allow me to create a large scale production with a huge cast or expansive locations so we tailored the concept to require only one location, and one child. It is because of my 6 years of experience working at Motion Theory that Anthology originally requested my services on this project hoping I could bring some animation to the piece. That’s exactly what I did.

As a young boy, I would always find my self doodling robots, cars and animals, but what drew most often was dinosaurs. I had such a passion for dinosaurs growing up, that throughout much of my elementary school years, I dreamed of being a paleontologist. This project gave me a way to create that child-hood dream of being able to work with dinosaurs. As my “research” for the project, I thought back to my days as a child drawing my favorite dinosaur that Tyrannosaurs Rex, cutting him out of the folder paper, and making him walk around the table while roaring at everything in sight. I imagined my dino coming to life and interacting with as if he were my best friend.

This commercial was my first opportunity to produce and direct a tv commercial in it’s entirety so I was a little unsure of how it would turn out. Motion Theory was a heavily effects heavy production company, utilizing animation or visual effects in 95% of their work which I knew was pretty foreign to Anthology and completely foreign to the client. I knew that I would have to carefully craft the storyboards and pre-visualization edits so they could see exactly what I meant for them to approve the concept.

Once the concept was approved I contacted Jon Duarte Design Group to shoot the commercial. To keep cost down, we agreed to use their Canon 5D cinema package which ended up being a great choice for the piece.

The next two big decisions that needed to be approved by the agency and client were talent and location. I had been wanting to cast my friend’s son for a while and thought this was a perfect opportunity to get him on camera. Client and agency gave me an immediate approval from the headshot I took of him. The concept called for a nice open living room area and two driving shots and I knew of just the place. Mom’s house. My parents live at the end of a private road in a cul-de-sac has two major benefits: 1. No need to acquire a film permit for location or road 2. No traffic or pedestrians to worry about.

Before calling action on set, I called an old Motion Theory co-worker Nick Losq who starting his new company Black Swan Creative to collaborate with me on the 3D animation tasks. I had worked with Nick while at Motion Theory on numerous animation/vfx jobs and really liked his artistic style. This project called for a very stylized, child-like dino drawing so I new Nick was the right guy for the job.

The concept depicted a boy drawing a dinosaur that comes up off the page and into the real world. Knowing the restrictions of working with 5-year old talent we printed a book with a pre-drawn dinosaur in phases for our talent to trace over rather than asking him to draw freely.

When the 1/2 day shoot was completed, I copied the files to two separate drives (for backup) and began transcoding to Pro Res 422 HQ. Nick worked on the animation from LA while I was worked on the edit and color correction in Hawaii. When all was approved the final Dinosaur shots were composited into the final color corrected live action and delivered it to the TV stations.

The commercial was awarded two Telly Awards (Animation & Retail categories), two silver Pele awards (under $15k budget & animation categories) and one gold pele in the retail category.

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