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Blog & News / February 2014

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Posted February 20, 2014 at 11:02am

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will include a great many commercials in hundreds of time slots during the Olympic games, airing on NBC networks. Famous Frames artists Michael Lee, Peter Vu, Shari Wickstrom, and Gabe McIntosh take you way behind the scenes to see how the ideas and looks for the spots seen 'round the world first became a twinkle in the market's eye!

Artist: Peter Vu / Citi "Slipped My Mind"  

Peter Vu explained to us: After speaking with the Ad agency (PKT) about the commercial's overall direction, the first step I took in this spot's process was to look for reference images. The focal point of the piece was Ted Ligety, so my research phase comprised of pulling together as many images of him as I could find, in as many angles and positions as possible. 

Using Photoshop, I drew up rough sketches for approval from the agency. Bringing the frames to final was tricky: the client preferred a photo-real look but I didn't have Ted Ligety in my studio, posing in the exact positions and actions that the spot required. 

The solution was a great deal of photo-comping: after cutting arms, twisting bodies, and reattaching a number limbs, I wrestled the images into submission and was able to get the piece to do what I commanded. Like any magician, I needed to erase my tracks. I painted over the images to get an illustrated feel and unify the photo-comp pieces in a single theme. 

After many strokes, swipes, and outlining, I eventually reached the product that you see here.

Artist: Shari Wickstrom / Kellogg's "Uphill"

This spot- Entitled "Uphill" for Kellogs was done by artist Shari Wickstrom, who says “I really enjoyed working on this spot. I loved the concept itself, which made it  real easy for me to get into it. I began with a series of pencil sketches.  The creatives then decided on the final shots and look they wanted, the flow of the story, etc. From there I  finished everything up in photoshop. The commercial itself turned out beautiful. The creatives were terrific to work for and it really  was a pleasure to participate in the process.” 

Artist: Michael Lee / NBC's "About a Boy" Promo 

When we spoke with artist Michael Lee about his experience working with NBC's About A Boy, He said "These are pretty standard fare for my type of shooting board.  I sat down with the director and we talked about the scripts, characters and locations.  I had a lot more to work with than in most situations, since this was a promo for a TV show that was already in production.  This means I got to see video of the cast, the sets and I got a chance to view an early episode; so I became familiar with who was who and what each character was about.  The director basically told me what he wanted each set up to be, how the characters moved through each scenario, and roughly where the cameras would be.  From that point it's my job to tell the story visually.  Normally I just start drawing with a regular office pencil on printer paper, and I draw as many frames as we need to tell the story and make sure all the camera directions are basically described.  In this situation I actually drew directly with the Wacom Cintiq, using Sketchbook Pro, but my approach to drawing on the computer is no different than when I draw with pencil and paper.  I first lightly sketch in the overall story, blocking out where figures will be and the setting, then once the entire story is lightly roughed out and approved for the action and blocking, I go back and make progressively more detailed drawings. Exact likenesses or perfect renderings of the environment aren't necessary for a shooting board, and those things are a distraction to getting the information the director needs so they can shoot a spot.  So my drawings are fairly generalized, but they still provide enough to create the action and mood.  My goal is to spend no more than 10 to 15 minutes on each frame.  This ensures that the drawings will have energy, and more importantly, allows me to finish the required number of drawings in the time allowed."

Artist: Gabe McIntosh / Publicis / Puffs

"For the Puffs "Obstacles" thirty - second TV spot, realism was our goal. Like most of us, I sketch out the frames in rough pencil first, but I prefer HB 4 soft-lead pencils and bright - white, smooth copy paper. The rough pencil sketches establish camera angles and perspective. Then I begin gathering reference images from any source I can find. Starting online and ranging from magazines, books or even shooting pictures of myself and folks around me, I piece together the results until it feels and looks natural. From there we draw the frames on a 22"HD Wacom Cintiq digital tablet in black and white, with a custom pencil brush. Then we execute the color versions which involves what we call "digital painting", which in essence is to combine the line-work and shading into one seamless color image." Gabe McIntosh

Famous Frames Scores at the Big Game XLVIII!

Posted February 7, 2014 at 10:22am

For many viewers the commercials that aired during the Big Game XLVIII are what provided the real entertainment. Famous Frames is extremely proud to have been an integral part of a number of the best spots to hit air.

RadioShack "The Phone Call" / Client: GSD&M / Artist: Nick Randall

In this spot, stars from the 80s smash through the front door of the store and loot all of the outdated furniture, equipment and technology. Whether it’s Hulk Hogan hoisting shelving units, Mary Lou Retton stockpiling old-school radios or Alf and Chucky escaping in the DeLorean, this commercial has enough nostalgia to make anyone want to shop at RadioShack again. According to artist Nick Randall, it was as much fun to make as it was to watch! He says, "it was a fun job with great creative- that took me back to my early teenage years."


Wonderful Pistachios "Colbert" / Client: Fire Station / Artist: Michael Lee

You can always count on Stephen Colbert! In this spot he provided an exciting ending to the night, as his Wonderful Pistachios spot was one of the few ads kept under wraps leading up to the big game. Artist Michael Lee commented, "these drawings are pretty simple, but we were basically exploring several gags that would pay off the spot. There were probably half a dozen ideas to work out with Colbert and his team, but I think once the ideas were put down into drawings the choice was fairly obvious. The drawings also made it pretty clear to the visual effects group on how to execute the idea. It's always amazing how a few drawings can make navigating an idea much clearer."


Intuit Quickbooks "GoldieBlox" / Client: RPA / Artist: Kathy Berry

GoldieBlox is a new a toy company with the goal of getting girls interested in engineering. This spot was the winner of Intuit’s “Small Business, Big Game” campaign, which had our artist Kathy Berry very excited about being involved- “Once in a while there are jobs that I work on that stand out above the others, this was one of them because they are calling it, ‘the commercial that made history!’ Goldie Blox was one of thousands of small businesses that competed to win a free Big Game ad. It was not only a joy to see that they won the contest but the commercial they shot was one of the ideas I helped board out for them.”

Hyundai Genesis "Dad's Sixth Sense" / Client: Innocean / Artist: David Mellon

“Remember when no one could save the day like Dad? That was then. This is next,” the video is captioned. The commercial features a dad and his sixth sense, saving his son throughout his life from harmful situations. However, he couldn’t help his son when he got distracted on the road – that’s where Hyundai comes to the rescue! The final product on this spot was a bit different from the initial boards by artist David Mellon, but he was proud of his work nonetheless. “I've been doing this for years but it's still a real kick to see a storyboard turn into a TV commercial - particularly if it's in the middle of the Big Game. This is a lovely spot that works well with repeated viewing. No surprise - Robert Prins was the Art Director; A guy with a couple of kids, who knows what he's talking about when it comes to being a dad. As you can see from every one of these boards, the finished ad always changes a bit in execution. We had the dad driving, but it's a much better payoff having the kid behind the wheel.”  We love it when our artists and clients really see eye to eye, it makes for great end results and gives us an awesome product to show off! 


A Million Ways to Die in the West / Client: Big Picture Entertainment / Artist: Renee Reeser

There's still about six months until Seth MacFarlane's new film A Million Ways to Die in the West hits theaters, but this Big Game teaser gave us a first look at the film. While working at Big Picture Entertainment, Renee Reeser had a lot of fun making these boards. She says about her experience “I’m a huge fan of Seth’s work, and love that my frames were a key force in getting him to sign off and get on board with the tone of the project. I’d worked with Charlie Emde before, so I felt that he trusted me and let me do my own thing.” A Million Ways to Die in the West will hit theaters on May 30.


Chevy "Life" / Client: Leo Burnett / Gorgeous / Artist: Yori Mochizuki

The second of Chevy's Big Game commercials this year is a touching one, featuring an emotional tribute for cancer survivors everywhere. The sentimental spot, for Silverado trucks, included a reminder that this past Tuesday was World Cancer Day and highlighted Chevrolet’s support of the American Cancer Society’s “Purple Road” initiative. Famous Frames artist Yori Mochizuki said about his contributions to the spot, “I worked hard to visually express the shift in mood from melancholy to hopeful with simple line drawings and gray tones. Subtlety was crucial for everything in this spot from storytelling to facial expression.”

We hope you’ve enjoyed the commercials and the art that is integral in creating them. Until next year!

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