Garrigan Lyman Group recently tapped Superfad to create a branding
commercial that would embody the spirit and beauty of Haiti for Voila a
Haitian telecommunications company. At the heart of the campaign is
Haitian-born superstar Wyclef Jean from whose hands spill the paint
that creates an animated and colorful representation of the essence of
"Our brand strategy for Voila is to position them as uniquely Haitian," says Rebecca Lyman, principal, Garrigan Lyman Group. "This differentiates them from the competition and reinforces Voila's strong commitment to the people of Haiti. The spot launched in time for Voila's 10-year anniversary and is a part of a larger integrated campaign that celebrates Haiti's rich and vibrant culture."
Superfad shot the live action performance of Wyclef Jean on location in New York and returned to the Seattle where the animated world was created. This imaginary realm, stylized representations of Haiti, is
an homage to Haitian Folk Art style -- an aesthetic previously unknown to the Superfad team and one that required copious and extensive research.
"This was one of the more challenging, but also one of the most exciting projects I have been tasked with in my career," comments Superfad art director Carlos Stevens. "Our main goal for this project was to use the Haitian style of artwork to drive a meaningful narrative that would support Wyclef, his actions and his words
throughout the commercial. The task itself was difficult because Haitian art is done in a unique style that is unfamiliar to our artists. We all had to adapt to an illustration style we have never encountered before, which made the project all the more challenging, but also fresh and compelling."
The goal was to integrate Wyclef into his narrative, which sparked the idea of having his actions deliver the visuals. Superfad chose to use a mix of cel animation, 2d artwork and 3d animation to create the most dynamic visual presentation possible. The result is a commercial that reads as a love letter to Haiti and its people.
"GLG traveled to Haiti and spent a good amount of time getting a first hand look at the culture and the people," says Stevens. "Here at Superfad we devoted ourselves to researching and understanding the vernacular folk art of Haiti as well as examining their flora, fauna and historical texts. With our combined knowledge, we were able to address the deep rooted themes we learned through our research process."
There are a wide variety of themes Superfad had to choose from in Haitian folk art. Plants, animals, and local cultural items such as sailboats are prominent in everyday Haitian life. Superfad decided to use these specific themes knowing that they would give them the biggest bang for the buck in terms of animation, and make the strongest connections to Haitian culture.
For the animation, Superfad used a broad array of content creation tools to achieve the final look. They began the process with sketches, which evolved into finessed shooting boards using Photoshop. From those shooting boards, they had a team of 3D artists working in Maya creating elements for the final composite, such as the plants, birds, buildings, and so on. The texturing process was a fine art accomplishment in itself, as the textures for the 3d models had to be hand painted, rather than photographic composites. To
increase the painterly appearance of their 3D renders, Superfad created textures that represented the highlights and shadows of the objects using color, instead of 3d lighting and shading. For example,
traditional painters will paint their highlights in warm colors and their shadows in cool colors, which is how they approached 3D. Certain 2D elements, such as the clouds, were painted exclusively in Photoshop.
Superfad did a small studio shoot to film background mattes using various inks and fluid substances bleeding through paper and linen. A small team of compositors worked on simulating the drifting hand paint using Trapcode Particular combined with some Maya fluid dynamics. Simultaneously they worked with a cell animator using Flash to create specific elements such as the crashing wave. which were then composited along with everything else in Adobe After Effects. Superfad then handed the majority of the shots over to the
cell animator to add some extra paint to the hands and leading edges to the matte reveals. To finish the process they color corrected in Flame and compiled the final renders in Final Cut Pro.
By focusing on defining similarities among the different elements such as texture, lighting, color, and so on, Superfad was able to come to a successful balance. Making sure that the flat cell animation coming from Flash had the same texture and lighting as the 3D renders coming from Maya is one example of the compositing finesse that needed to be accomplished.
Agency: Garrigan Lyman Group
Account Director: Naomi Ruiz
Chief Creative Officer: Bryan Cummings
Creative Director: Kalie Kimball-Malone
Senior Producer: Kathleen Minnis Olson
Senior Art Director: Jim Nesbitt
Senior Writer: Darren Vance
Executive Creative Director: Will Hyde
Art Director: Carlos Stevens
CGI/VFX Director: Dade Orgeron
3D Artists: Phiphat Pinyosophon, Andrew Butterworth, John Cherniack,
Herman Kim, Yas Koyama, Chris Hill
Compositors: Carlos Stevens, Loren Judah, Paulo Dias, David Viau
Additional Compositing: David Holm, Justin Pae
Cel Animation: Dave Creek
Editor: Duncan Sharp
Flame Artist: Joe Vitale
Producer: Nick Hegge
Head of Production: Chris Volckmann
Executive Producer: Rob Sanborn