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HomeCraftsAnimationCalabash Catches Charlie The Tuna In StarKist Ad

Calabash Catches Charlie The Tuna In StarKist Ad


LR-Calabash-Starkist frameChicago, IL-based animation studio Calabash recently partnered with director Steve Williams and the Harrisburg, PA-based Quench Agency to create a new ad for StarKist Tuna called “Modern Charlie.” For Calabash executive producer Sean Henry it was important to stay true to the original look of Charlie.

“Charlie’s basic design has hardly changed since he was first introduced in the early ’60s, but he has been interpreted in slightly different ways over the years,” said Henry. “We felt obligated to stay as true as possible to the official look, but there were a lot of elements to the design that needed to be thought out carefully. Charlie’s design is pretty abstract, like a comic strip character. It works well as a drawing, but it is a real challenge to sculpt in 3D since it is only designed to be seen from one or two angles.”

Creative director Wayne Brejcha found the recent Peanuts Movie from Blue Sky Animation inspiring in its adaptation of quirky 2D characters into 3D.

“Charlie’s 3D spatial coherence is playful,” said Brejcha. “Sean rigged our CG Charlie to be able to do what the hand-drawn cartoons can do. He’s not a strictly jointed armature. He’s more of a series of liquid forms, and we kept a sharp eye on the resulting 2D shapes you see as the final result to gauge how well we were capturing Charlie’s personality.”

“Modern Charlie” (:15) pays homage to the classic ad from the 1960s featuring his Octopus sidekick, in which we see Charlie playing the harp and “putting his heart into it” when the flute-playing Octopus reminds him that StarKist “doesn’t want tuna with heart, they want tuna that’s good for the heart.”

“Characters like Charlie carry an enormous amount of equity for their brands,” Brejcha explained. “A memorable mascot has the power to elevate a brand to the status of cultural icon, and one thing we are seeing is that these characters have serious longevity and flexibility to adapt with ever-changing culture and technology. We love breathing new life into a classic.”

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