Bent Image Lab blends the colorful sports personality of John Madden with a "Tex Avery" flavored clay animation world created by director David Daniels. The long-running 'Tough Actin' campaign moves into completely new territory with "Monster
Foot" (:15), mixing live action shot on greenscreen with stop motion characters in forced-perspective sets.
The creative team of Dave Leinwohl and Darrin Abrams at Euro RSCG felt that Madden's broad personality would be a good match for the world of broadly animated characters created by the team at BENT. Daniels has a decade of experience in coaching celebrity talent though the intricate details of a mixed media universe.
The villain of the piece is the Monster Foot, itself, created by an intricate combination of clay animated primary, roto-matched CG flames/spray/ice, and extensive post work. Dan Kaplan, Euro producer, described this character as being conceived like a snapping little "kick dog" with bulging stretch and squash eyes. It's all bark with no bite. The fiery foot is a nasty looking little five-toed creep, who is harmless but angry. It melts like "the wicked witch of the East" when it's sprayed with Tinactin.
The Monster Foot scurries around on the ground, lurking in the grass under the benches, looking up at the world. Massively forced perspective sets were built, and then shot with the widest-angle lenses possible. The use of 14, 15, and 16mm glass brings the animated objects within an inch of the front element, right into the viewer's face from a "worm's eye" view. Whip-dolly transitions, deck-level shots, and elegant camera moves bring impact and velocity to this live/stop motion combination.
While the Image Lab as a rule does not impose any look if the concept does not call for it, extremely wide angle lenses really are a trademark style for Daniels' stop motion character work, and it fit the Monster Foot idea perfectly. The look is unique in stop motion probably because it makes it much harder to work in.
The clay primary animation was done by Jeffrey Bost with replacement sculptures that could be morphed and bent into new shapes. The eyeballs were hard shapes painted with glossy white enamel, but no pupils and no iris. This footage came back, lacking the flames for eyebrows and moustache as well.
The football characters themselves were designed by Ben Birch, and sculpted by Scott Foster. The heads were clay on plastic buck, but the bodies were foam latex with armature beneath and fabric uniforms.
For more on Bent Image, go to www.bentimagelab.com