To mark the running of the bulls at the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, here’s a television commercial from 2001, EDS Running with the Squirrels. A crowd of grown men run through winding cobblestone streets with a pack of squirrels in hot pursuit. The spot, run on January 28, 2001, at the Super Bowl, shows Spanish men in a documentary style short reflecting on the challenge of running with the squirrels. Computing systems company EDS tells us, “It’s not the big lumbering competitors you need to worry about. We’ll help you compete with the quick, nimble ones.”
Most of the squirrels in the shot were created in CGI, apart from close ups of eight “hero squirrels”. Integrating the footage with CGI squirrels was no easy task, given that director John O’Hagan was using a hand held camera to gain a “documentary effect”, with five cameras shooting 600 extras.
The CGI squirrels were all individuals. Visual effects supervisor Melissa Davies, at Sight Effects, explains. “We did variations on their tails and the thickness of their hair to make some of them look a little fatter than others, so they looked more varied. Maya’s procedures for generating fur definitely helped us a lot.”
Animators also had to make the fleet-footed creatures run convincingly down the cobblestone street — and not just skim the surface. See more on the Sight Effects work here.
Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube (HD)
The Running with the Squirrels concept was developed at Fallon McElligot by art director Dean Hanson, copywriter Greg Hahn and agency producer Marty Wetherall and agency digital producer Bob Wendt, in collaboration with Electronic Data Systems marketing chief Don Uzzi.
Filming was shot by director John O’Hagan using a hand held camera, via Hungry Man Productions (now at RSA Films) with director of photography Peter Bijiou and producer Sally Humphries. Music was produced by Asche & Spencer.
Visual effects were developed at Sight Effects by visual effects supervisor Melissa Davies, producer Andrea Morland, CGI animators Michael Capton, Kim Dail, Dariush Derakhshani, Ernie Rinard, Michael Teperson, Chris Wells, compositors Michelle Steinau, Christine Goldby and Scott Polen.