Costa Rica is home to five percent of the world's biodiversity, two oceans, friendly locals, and…talking sloths? Yes, at least one talking sloth, a character production company Blind brings to life in three new videos that promote Costa Rica's “Million Dollar Gift of Happiness” campaign.
Created in partnership with Atlanta-based advertising agency 22squared, the trio of “Gift of Happiness” spots features the laid-back spokes animal hanging in front of iconic Costa Rican scenes—rainforests, mountains, and stunning local architecture—and delivering happy-go-lucky encomiums to his native land in a relaxed, surfer-dude-style voice.
"We won the pitch on one of our initial animation tests, which used sound bites of a laid-back Owen Wilson," noted Tom Koh, creative director at Blind. "Our focus was to create an iconic figure embodying the character profile 22squared had developed, and our specially developed 2D and 3D approach brought us the style and production efficiency we were looking for."
After 22squared drafted scripts for the three videos and created a profile of the sloth's character, Blind conducted an extensive character design of the sloth, focusing on maximizing the body and facial performance. Once the sloth's look was agreed upon, Blind went to work with Maxon Cinema4D and Adobe After Effects and Photoshop, also using stock footage and photography to bring to life a unique 2D and 3D animation style.
The team used lip-syncing freeware applications Lost Marble Papagayo and CrazyTalk LipSync to convert audio into corresponding phoneme images in After Effects.
At their studio, Blind shot the team's artists acting out the sloth's performances, to provide a reference for the subtle body gestures and nuances throughout his dialog. After a two- to three-week grind handling front-end character development and CG on the first spot, Blind cranked through the second and third spots in a week and a half each; a one-week edit perfected the comedic timing and tone they had worked toward from the beginning.
"We pride ourselves on finding creative solutions to pretty much any issue, and this project was no exception," stated Koh.