Super Bowl XLIX – Sprint

For those of you who don’t know, a proper Super Bowl commercial takes a lot of time and money to make. We’re talking millions of dollars and months of planning. The Mophie spot I worked on was pitched back in, I want to say, April or May 2014 – a whole 8ish months before it aired. There were months of pre-production, a whole film shoot, and months of post production, revisions and last minute fires to put out.

This, however, was not the case with Sprint. It’s never the case with Sprint… After months of us being told they didn’t want a Super Bowl spot, Sprint’s CEO changed his mind. 7 days before the game.

Those 7 days will live among the craziest 7 days I’ve worked in advertising. We pitched them a few ideas, and eventually settled on one and managed to ship it with one day to spare.

Happiness is eating the same breakfast

This was my favorite Taco Bell campaign I got to work on.

As a follow up to last year’s highly successful breakfast launch, Taco Bell wanted to go bigger and more heavy handed with their breakfast. Well, it doesn’t get much more heavy handed than calling your competitor a Stalinist dictatorship with full blown detention camps – unless you eat a breakfast crunch wrap.

Everything started with wild postings put up around a few major cities which directed people to the microsite where they were treated to the video I made.

I know it looks like I just used Video Copilot’s Twitch, but I found that you just don’t get the same level of control as doing it by hand. And here’s how…

There are three distinct eras the distortion had to come from: Shot on film from the 50s, transferred to VHS in the late 80s, and recently digitized and uploaded to the internet.

precomp 1 – Clean animation

precomp 2 – 8mm film overlay. I used a bit of stock footage, tinted and choked it to minimize the pop marks.

precomp 3 – Video Distortion – I used stock for the single frame film bits before the animation starts. Then used these adjustment layers:

       - Offset - animate shift center
       - Color Balance - Color Desaturation
       - Venetian Blinds - really really small horizontal lines
       - Wave Warp - set to 90 degrees with a relatively wide width, used primarily in the intro, outro 
       - Turbulent Displace - for general waviness 
       - Levels - crunched in primarily the intro, outro

I also had the whole thing translating on the X axis through random hold frames here and there.

precomp 4 – Color – To create the RBG offset I separated the VideoDistortion precomp into individual R, B, and G layers with Levels (Individual Controls) and changed the mode to Screen. Then I just animated the top two layers by hand to create the color offset that felt the best.

precomp 5 – Scale – the whole thing was built at HD… well, the 4:3 equivalent (1440×1080) , so I scaled everything down to 50% (720×540)

precomp 6 – re-scaled everything back up to HD, 1920×1080 this time, to get a natural crappy looking resize. I added one last subtle wave warp to get a slow moving wave along the edge of the composition/black bars… which you don’t see on the website version. Then added Posterize Time, set to 18fps, to give it an off putting odd playback.

Now, go make your own!

After all that, we finally released the full 3 minute spot online

Lastly Deutsch sent a bunch of Taco Bell super fans defector kits to promote the hell out of the campaign and join the defector revolution, which the did.

There was a whole secondary campaign which ran afterwards, which I animated the endcards for, but they’re not as exciting as this part.