By Alise Munson
On May 1 our newest work, Jose Cuervo Tradicional® History in a Bottle, hit screens everywhere including integration into a new virtual reality app. About 80 crew members/artists worked through the winter hand-making tiny agave plants, sculpting historic figures, sewing tiny costumes, building volcanoes, painting tiny bottles, lighting practical street signs and molding/casting 4-foot Cuervo bottle replicas.
The result? Take a look.
Agency: McCANN New York Client: Priximo Spirits - Jose Cuervo Tradicional® Director (animation & live action): Kirk Kelley
Before showing you the story behind the story, take a moment to absorb why working on a Jose Cuervo spot was natural for us:
1. We have a three-chambered margarita machine upstairs in our "break" room.
2. We would rather celebrate Cinco de Mayo than we would St. Patrick's Day.
3. Our Creative Director, Kirk Kelley, is one of the owners of La Taq, a Mex-Tex Cantina in North Portland.
4. This guy is located in Producers' Row:
5. Finally - We are one of the best studios in the world at making small things have a big impact and we can prove it.
To start - everything centered around the bottle. How would we fit practical dioramas into a bottle that looked good on camera? How do you create a bottle that had imperfections like a real bottle, but to a large scale? How long would fabrication take and will the materials work with our timeline? How heavy or unyielding will the finished bottle be?
First, we milled a wooden bottle and covered it with plaster.
It was sanded and smoothed, and a sculptor added raised letters. The bottle was then sprayed with a high-gloss automotive paint for a smooth finish.
From there, the smooth, gray bottle was used to create the mold to make nine clear resin bottles, all of which were sanded and polished until they looked like glass. The entire process to make one bottle took about four weeks.
Character Design & Fabrication
While the bottles were being made in the shop, characters fabricators and sculptors collaborated with McCANN's team to design 65 roughly 4-inch puppets.
One of the lead characters was Margarita, who was the beautiful inspiration for her namesake cocktail. Character designers led by Art Director Alan Cook reviewed reference before focusing on the character and her effect on the story forming around her.
Once the concepts were approved, sculptors interpreted the designs into the practical world and in the right scale. Each figure had to fit into the final dioramas, so prop sizes and environments became part of the character design process.
Each character was sculpted, molded, painted and dressed in custom costumes.
All elements inside the bottle were dependent on each other and their relationship to the scene and the camera. Everything worked in harmony to give a believable look and feel.
In addition to the 65 puppets, the fabricators created hundreds of props, including surfboards, palm trees, tequila barrels, agave plants, cannons, donkeys, guns...
Fitting It All Into a Bottle
A CG pre-visualization of the viewers' movement through the scene was created to establish how the camera would move through the space of each bottle. Using this as a guide, foam core mock-ups were built of each vignette to ensure the camera, set lighting as well as all characters and props would fit correctly inside each of the bottles.
While the props and characters were finalized, the stage crew built the sets and started to program lighting and motion-controlled camera moves.
For this diorama set in Hollywood in the '50s, the lighting designer added working practical lights to the street, the signs and cars' front and tail lights.
After all the elements were installed and glued down, the vignette was carefully slide into the bottle.
Camera movements were finalized and the shot was captured.
This process was repeated nine times to create the final 60-second spot.
Camera and Software:
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Dragonframe, Flame, Smoke, Avid, Maya, Photoshop
CD.Director: Kirk Kelley
Executive Producer: Lourri Hammack
Executive Producer: Jan Johnson
Producer: Julie Ragland
Production Coordinator: Jenn Catalino
Production Assistant: Megan Sweigert
Creative Director: Kirk Kelley
Art Director: Alan Cook
Character Designer: Michelle Lin
Production Designer: Christopher Appelhans
Concept Artists: Huy Dang, Kristy Kay-Jones, Joyce Lee, Michelle Lin, Manddy Wyckens
Matte Painters: Jenny Kincade, Manddy Wyckens, Stephen Bodin
Storyboard Artist: Fred Fassberger
Character Fabrication Lead : Katie Mello
Set/Prop Fabrication Lead: Rob Mechior
Sculptors: Christy Becker, Julianna Cox, Kameron Gates, Tony Merrithew
Moldmaking: Matt McKenna, Mattzilla Duron
Character Painter: Sara Neiman, Jessica Bronk
Costumer: Margaret Meyer, Elodie Massa, Jessica Rogers
Set/Prop Fabrication: Greg Boettcher, Mattie Bowden,Brian Capati, Lisa Chung, Ans Ellis, Gary Logue, Paul Mack, Katie Mello, Chris Ohlgren, Matt Perna, Alison Potvin, Daniel Strong, Emma Van Halsema, Andres Piedrahita
Set Painter: Richard Brian Capati, Leigh Jacobs
Scenic Painter: Loren Hillman
Wrangler: Elecia Beebe, Morgan Muta, Sarah Frechette
Production Assistant: Jaime Ginesky, Annarose Williams, Alex Webster
Art Department Manager: Erica Johnson
CG Lead TD: Terence Jacobson
Previs: Kameron Gates
Modeling: Allan Steele, Josh Tonnesen
Texture Artist: Josh Tonnesen
Lighting Artist: Frank Ritlop
VFX: Karl Richter
Director of Photography: John Nolan
Animator: Chris Ohlgren
Motion Control: Josh Livingston
Gaffer: Jake Hauswirth
Rigging: Rob Melchior
Grip: Brandon Lake
Stage Manager: Erica Johnson
Production Assistant: Annarose Williams
Editor: Michael Corrigan
Flame Artist: Rex Carter
Smoke Artist: Leif Peterson
Tape Op: Dino Coons
Post Production Manager: Cam Williams
Live Action Production Company: LAIKA/house
Director: Kirk Kelley
Executive Producer: Lourri Hammack
Producer: Elliot Freeman
Director of Photography: Eric Edwards
Production Designer: David Sicotte
Live Action Set Construction: Department of Art
Company: McCann NY- Erickson
City, State: New York, NY
Global Creative Chairman: Rob Reilly
EVP, Chief Creative Officer: Thomas Murphy, Sean Brown
SVP, Group Creative Director: Mat Bisher
ACD/Art Director: Vi Loung, Nic Howell
ACD/Copywriter: Colin Iisley
Copywriter: Sarah Lloyd, Mike Howard
Director of Integrated Productions: Nathy Aviram
Sr. Producer: Jessica Coccaro
Executive Music Producer: Peter Gannon
Music Producer: Mike Ladman
Client Lead: Elwyn Gladstone
SVP, Gr. Account Director: Lauren LaValle, Matthew Rakow, Rachel Heiss