October 18, 2006

Crash & Sue's Teams with Fallon To Produce Cross-Platform Promos and Webisodes for The Brawny Academy

Minneapolis - It’s every woman’s dream: A manly man schooled in the social and practical aspects of female-friendly behavior. But where do they go to acquire these rare but essential skills? The Brawny Academy, a new online reality series created by Fallon/Minneapolis for Georgia-Pacific’s Brawny paper towels, provides all the instruction they’ll need in just eight episodes, each spanning 10 to 15 minutes.  
Crash & Sue’s, the award-winning telecine, visual effects, compositing, finishing, and audio company, helped launch the ground-breaking series with its full-service approach to a tongue-in-cheek package of TV promo commercials and webisode wraps.

The Brawny Academy features eight regular guys, cast from legions of applications submitted by wives and girlfriends nationwide. Based in a camp near Mendocino, Calif., the participants had to complete a diverse list of tasks and challenges designed to enhance their manliness and make them more sensitive to the women in their lives.   

Branding the paper towel product is the familiar, plaid-clad Brawny Man, the ultimate woman’s man. The character played a key role in their tutoring, taking center stage in the wraps and promos, which were designed to drive audiences to the website (www.brawnyacademy.com) to view the show.

Each webisode of The Brawny Academy was showcased like a network reality series, including the signature “wrap” or intro and outro bumpers. A package of TV promos were then created to pique viewers’ interests and lure them to the Brawny Academy Web site. 

Crash & Sue’s teamed with husband-and-wife Fallon creatives, Kris and Alisa Wixom, and assembly line editor, Brody Howard, on the promo campaign for the innovative project.   

“It was a matter of ensuring that everything was absolutely perfect in bringing the Wixoms’ vision to life,” notes Autodesk Smoke artist, Derek Johnson, who performed the online finishing. “This was the first time both the client and the general public would see the Brawny Man icon personified.”

“This was Fallon’s baby, but we were just as excited about the project,” says Crash & Sue’s executive producer, Donna Drewick. “There was a great deal of one-on-one with the creatives. Sharing the their enthusiasm for the concept, we wanted to be completely accessible to them…and were equally committed in creating this campaign that built upon an idea stamped with the agency’s trademark humor.”

Drewick adds, “It was essential that Crash & Sue’s as a whole work closely with the Wixoms to fashion a campaign that would both entertain and intrigue audiences, enough so to draw their attention online to view the entire series.”

The Brawny Man, played by sometime actor and fulltime Renaissance man, John Brennan, delivers his dryly, comic observations in deadpan fashion direct to camera in the promos and wraps. Helmed by director Tim Godsall of Biscuit Filmworks, the spots were devised to support the webisodes and entice viewers to the Internet.

In the “Push-ups,” which launched the series of promo spots, the Brawny Man interrupts his exercise routine to announce to viewers that it’s opening week at The Brawny Academy, and the guys are getting to know each other and forming “bonds of brotherhood.” A cutaway montage of scenes from the webisodes gives a glimpse of the men enjoying a barbeque and then going through their paces as they saw logs and throw hatchets at targets.   

“But they’re about to find out it’s not all fun and games around here,” the Brawny Man warns, as viewers see what happens when the men chose to live like pigs - as squealing, squirming piglets with ribbons around their necks are released into their messy, food-strewn living room.

Another promo features the Brawny Man setting up scenes of the eight participants tackling an obstacle course of household chores in high heels no less, all the while he feeds an orphaned warbler at the top of a giant redwood. The “Bird Call” promo inter-cuts clips from the webisode of the men undertaking a variety of tasks demonstrating their survival skills – paddling, hiking in the woods, cooking by campfire – this show footage is book-ended with a deadpan delivery of the Brawny Man sending out bird calls in an effort to help a Loon couple sort out “through some relationship issues.”

The webisode intro wraps build on the Brawny Man’s tongue-in-cheek promo appearances; the outro wraps sum up the show’s lesson with a pithy observation inviting viewers to watch the next installment.

“I’m just moving this rock – I like to do that sometimes,” the Brawny Man quips as we witness him carrying a huge boulder in his arms in the outro wrap “Rock.” He emphasizes that, while it’s important for the Brawny Academy men to please the women in their lives, it’s equally important to remain real men. “Get outside...and just move a rock,” he counsels.   

In another outro wrap “Bone,” he picks up an enormous brontosaurus bone which will complete his right-leg construction of the dinosaur – quite an achievement – then goes on to cite other, perhaps more modest, achievements like “being there when the woman in your life needs you.” And in “Closet,” he’s spied unbuttoning his red-flannel shirt and advising men to take a critical look at their wardrobe from time to time. “It’s not a bad idea to change your style every so often,” he says as he dons an identical red-flannel shirt from a closet full of the singular item.

Crash & Sue’s tag-team colorists, Sue Lakso and Josh Allard, transferred and color corrected director Godsall’s S16mm footage and handled some tape-to-tape color correction for the video clip montages.

“We followed the look the production company established and the Wixoms envisioned, keeping colors saturated while enhancing the warmth of the film and bringing out more yellow and green,” says Allard.  “The ‘Alligator’ promo and wraps were especially beautiful with the reds and golden yellows.” Some exposures were a bit challenging where Allard “had to find a balance where the forest was not too blown out and the Brawny Man still looked good.”

Derek Johnson onlined the project from Brody Howard’s EDLs. “Brody did a great job bringing out the dry humor of the spots…really nailing his edits,” says Johnson. “The project was a lot of fun to work on and offered some technical challenges with all the formats and versioning required. We had to deliver for multiple mediums – both full and letterbox for air, anamorphic for the web – and then re-format for the various media players available out there as well. We also put a film-look on portions of the wraps which had been shot on video to separate the intros and outros from the video-acquired clip segment.”

Johnson also performed various rig removal, clean up, and product replacement…for example, a shot in which a roll of Brawny paper towels was blown out needed to be replaced. In an outro wrap scene at a hen house, a baby chick was enhanced and then composited into the Brawny Man’s hand.

Autodesk Flame artist, Jake Parker, supplied some paintwork and compositing to remove an awkward tree branch in the “Bird Call” promo and wraps; for the “Nest” promo and wraps, he composited bluescreen footage of the Brawny Man high in a fake tree against a mountainous background.

Johnson tweaked the color correction in certain areas of the assembled footage to help out with hot spots. “Some shots required compositing of the multiple color passes to get just the right look,” he explains. Ultimately he finished by adding the supers directing viewers to the Brawny Academy Web site.   

Crash & Sue’s Ross Nelson, provided the audio mixes for the promos and wraps; Echo Boys sound designer, Tom Lecher, incorporated some subtle sound design both enhancing the feeling of a woodsy environment yet still maintaining the intended campy tone.

Client: Brawny
Brawny Academy
Title: The Brawny Academy: TV spots and webisode wraps promo campaign
Agency: Fallon/Minneapolis: Director of Broadcast Production: Brian DiLorenzo and Vic Palumbo; Agency Producers: Jennifer David and Amy Lundeen; Creative Director: Roger Camp, Paul Silburn, Mark Taylor, and Kerry Feuerman; Art Director: Kris Wixom, Lovisa Almgren, and Andy Amadeo; Copywriter: Alisa Sengel Wixom.
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks/LA; Director: Tim Godsall;DPs: Darko Surak and Le Fooks.  
Editing Company: Assembly Line/Minneapolis: Editor: Brody Howard; Producer: Jennifer Cadwell.  
Post House: Crash & Sue’s/Minneapolis: Colorists: Sue Lakso and Josh Allard;Flame Artist: Jake Parker; Smoke Artist: Derek Johnson; Audio Engineer: Ross Nelson; Executive Producer: Donna Drewick.  
Sound Design Co: Echo Boys/Minneapolis; Sound Designer: Tom Lecher; Producer: Kathy Yanko.  
Music Company:  Singing Serpent/Minneapolis.