XBox Mosquito says Play More
Microsoft’s release of the XBox game console in 2003 was pushed in the UK with “Mosquito”, a television commercial celebrating the value of purpose and play in a short life.
We’re presented with the story of how the mosquito fell from grace. In the Garden of Eden, perhaps, we have an idyllic place for the musical mosquitos, insects whose high-pitched whine entertains the animals. “In the beginning nature gave us a fantastic gift. Music. We played and played. Life was a melody. One day, a voice told us, ‘Get a job’. So we sucked and sucked and sucked, fathers, mothers, children”. The ad moves to mosquitoes as we know them – but close up. Mosquitoes suck the blood from the skin of human flesh of all kinds and body parts. “And we lost our gift. We became bad musicians. So bad”. Gruesome close-ups give way to a final flurry of slaps as people around the world are shown dealing out the traditional fate to the now unhappy mosquito. The spot ends with a shot of a tiny child, thoughtfully running a toy train over the squashed remains of several mosquitoes. The lad looks into the camera’s eye and appears to be paying close attention to the narrators final message: “Humans, you have a natural gift for play; don’t lose it. Work less. Play more.”
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The Mosquito ad was developed at Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH London) by creative director John Hegarty, creatives Farid Mokart and Fred Raillard, and agency producer Andy Gulliman. with were the minds behind the concepts of the ‘ages of man’ and mosquito ads.
Filming was shot by director Daniel Kleinman, at the time working with production company Spectre, London, with producer Johnnie Frankel, director of photography Ivan Bird, and set designer John Bramble. Kleinman later merged Spectre with Stark Films to form a new company, Large, before forming his own company, Kleinman Productions. He’s now working with other directors at Rattling Stick.
Editor was Steve Gandolfi at Cut & Run, London.
Post Production was done at Framestore, London, with a team led by post producer Helen MacKenzie and post coordinator Rebecca Barbour, animation effects supervisor William Bartlett and colorist Dave Ludlam, VFX artist Jake Mengers and Andrew Daffy.
Believe it or not, not a single living mosquito was used in the Xbox commercial. Digital mosquitoes were developed with 3D software Maya 4.0, with seven levels of detail depending on how close the shot was. Automatic tracking software, 2d3’s ‘Boujou’, sped up the completion of shots such as the camera move up the arm of a hospital patient (with a production line of mosquitoes at work along the defenseless limb. Animals and birds, which were supplied as stock footage, were all placed on composited backgrounds in Discreet’s software Inferno.
Sound was produced by Johnnie Burn at Wave Studios, London.
Music, “Am I wrong?”, is by French DJ Etienne de Crecy.