The :30 holiday spot, “Winter MoneyLand,” produced and directed by Xenon, the New York-based commercial production company, and developed through Brushfire, Inc. (Cedar Knolls, NJ and New York, NY), debuts Nov. 26 on all cable systems across New Jersey as well as CBS-owned and operated stations in the New York and Philadelphia markets.
Xenon director and creative director Michael Wiehart, who has experience in live-action and animation, developed the story and created images for the storyboards and style boards so that the technical R&D could begin prior to the shoot. “It was important to me to develop a coherent storyline that draws the viewer into the wonderland and lets them make an emotional connection with the spot’s characters. As there was no MoneyLand in which to shoot, we had to construct our hyper-real environment,” explained Wiehart. “The foreground elements were built with CGI. Matte painting created the grandiose scale. The lighting of the scenes was inspired by the landscape paintings of old Dutch masters. The gravel walkway, including the snow framing it, was shot practical and integrated in post. We then populated the scenes with the money objects including gilded signs on the gate and lampposts. Creatures were added to MoneyLand which were character animated and rigged so they move and really show their bones and muscles. We keyed into the scene the live-action, shot green screen, and finally, the camera movements from the shoot were tracked and integrated with the 3D camera and an artful composite combined all the elements and added shadow, light bounces, flares and snowflakes into a seamless fantastical money wonderland,” he concluded.
Wiehart worked closely with Harry Dorrington, creative director of Gravity, to execute the animation. “Our early style frames captured the scale of the romantic ‘MoneyLand’ fantasy world, with its many inventive twists,” Dorrington said. “Michael’s storyboard provided clues that helped us create the time of day, with its magical light and atmosphere. Later that light would be replicated at the green screen shoot. Our pre-visualization of all the scenes allowed us to line up the lighting to the direction of the setting sun which was very important in creating the spot’s atmosphere”
”We wanted this spot to be special – ‘MoneyLand’ is a new departure for a Lottery ad and it will air for a number of years going forward,” Brushfire senior vice president and creative director Ken Musto said. “It’s not just about buying some tickets and winning a hundred grand. We wanted to create a deep, detailed Christmas tale, rich with creativity and detail, an invitation to not only be ‘in the money,’ but to escape the real world and immerse yourself in this wonderful place called Winter MoneyLand. Xenon understood the scope and depth of our concept. Michael has a great sense of story, and from working with Xenon previously we knew that they would understand the concept and how to bring it to life with CGI. We’re very proud of the results.”
“They are wonderful and wildly collaborative,” Brushfire Producer Liz Pollard added. “Michael brought our idea to life with great visuals and Doug made the numbers work, which is a producer’s dream. Since the spot is going to be around for a few years, we wanted people to see something new every time they view it and the level of detail they created was crazy. We got amazing value for our budget and everyone was thrilled with the spot.”
“For ‘Winter MoneyLand’ we created a fantasy world for a project that was a fantasy delight,” Xenon president and executive producer Doug Robbins said. “We had a client and an agency that were fabulous to work with, that let us have fun and allowed us to run free creatively. It was one of the more exciting projects that I have worked on in many, many years. Michael’s interpretation and the vision he presented and sold to the agency were embraced with a bear hug. The creative team at Gravity, led by Harry, helped push Michael’s ideas to the limit. It was a true collaborative process, a partnership that allowed us to execute a remarkable spot for Brushfire.”
Employing a seamless mix of computer generated animation, matte painting, practical elements and live-action footage, this wintery fantasy follows a young couple as they stroll, hand-in-hand, into a snowy “Winter MoneyLand.” Elaborate gates, festooned with gilded dollar signs, open magically as the couple begins its wide-eyed exploration of this fantastic environment. In MoneyLand, Christmas trees, snowflakes, woodland creatures, lampposts, even a sledding duo – George Washington and Abe Lincoln, who are seen barreling down a hill like school boys – gliding swans and a castle, are all made of folding money, which animate across the terrain.