Calabrio – Jetpack Bunnies
Creative agency Hunt Adkins partnered with CRASH+SUES on this irreverent project chock-full of feathers-n-fur, for Calabrio, who wanted to portray the dangers of failing to stay technically relevant.
We explored several different avenues for creating photo-realistic animals including 3d animation, live animals (this didn’t get very far) and practical puppets. After planning, plotting and a whole lotta number-crunching, we decided puppets would give us the greatest flexibility in performance at the best price for the client.
Crash+Sues worked with Creature Effects, Inc based out of LA, to create the surprisingly life-like puppets. Using molds made from actual taxidermied animals, the resulting body forms were further sculpted, then covered with, in the case of the bunny, real fur. Due to a law forbidding the buying and selling of migratory bird feathers, (yup, we learned more about hawks than we ever knew) Creature Effects sourced several other types of feathers, removed their natural coloring, then hand-painted each feather to match the patterning of the majestic Cooper hawk + Red-tailed hawk. The final result was amazing!
We shot at Orbit Studios here in Minneapolis, + wrangled puppeteers from Heart of the Beast to help Creature Effects elicit a compelling performance from the hawks + bunnies. Each hawk required two puppeteers – one controlling the head movement + beak and the second controlling body movement + shoulders + wings.
On set, the puppeteers worked their magic to create the correct lip-sync for the hawks, guided by a pre-recorded VO track. We shot with the Arri Alexa because it has a high level of dynamic range which allowed us greater flexibility with color in post. Meanwhile, back in our studio, backgrounds were being created by combining stock photos purchased online into an idyllic backyard and an underground hideout. Finally, in post, the critters were composited onto the backgrounds and using After Effects, we were able to manipulate the bunnies to accentuate movement within the legs that wasn’t captured on camera. The end result? The clients loved the spot and there’s talk of more critter videos ahead. Stay tuned!
It’s fun to reflect on this phenomenally fun project, but we’re always looking forward to the next challenge. Do you have unique production needs? Drop us a line – we can make your commercial come to life!