Psyop: Adidas “Together”

I know Motionographer seems like a Psyop love-fest sometimes, but when one studio creates so much diverse, beautiful, intelligent work, they’re going to get a lot of public love from me. And their latest project for Adidas is only grounds for further love.

adidastogether.jpg

Working with agency TBWA/China, Psyop created a campaign built around the elegantly simple concept of Olympians being supported by their fellow countrymen—literally. Technically, there’s much more than meets the eye in “Together,” the anthem spot for the four-spot campaign, but Psyop never lets the mechanics upstage the beautiful simplicity of the underlying idea.

Here’s a little Q&A from the press release:

1. What was the creative brief from the client/agency?
The brief from the agency was to create a poetic, sophisticated, and awe inspiring Olympics campaign that embraces the idea of “impossible is nothingâ€? for the people of China.

With the agency, we created 4 spots in total. The first spot was an anthem called “togetherâ€?. For this spot, we created a landscape of the nation supporting their athletes. It was important for us to create the intimacy between the supporters and the athletes. We wanted to make sure the fans were not seen just as the masses but to feel their emotion of being part of something big.

2. What was the feeling/aesthetic you were going for in creating the spots? Tell me about the creative process.
The aesthetic we were going for was to create something really epic. Not in the loud, over the top kind of way, but something understated, intimate, but big at the same time. This is why we’ve wanted to create the world of live action mixed with pencil. It seemed like the right mix of mediums to shape our campaign because of the blend of live action, for the athlete’s recognizability and human emotion, along with pencil, which has a softer delicate quality, creates a look that is quite unique.

But with this mixture of techniques, we faced many challenges. We had a lot of work ahead of us. First off, we spend weeks preparing for our shoot in Beijing by previsualizing all the spots. Because the mixture of live action and animation needed to be absolutely integrated, we have to plan out all our shots so that we were very well prepared. We then flew to Beijing to shoot the athletes over the course of 6 weeks.

The biggest challenge that we faced was to create the right mixture of live action and pencil. We wanted to avoid the dizzying look of simply a pencil filtered video effect, as in a A-Ha video of the 80s. The clients felt the emotions and facial expressions were very important to them so we wanted the look not to distract from the human emotion and the story. By having too much activity of hand drawn lines, we were losing focus. The delicate balance of all of these things was our greatest challenge. For us, we feel the technique pushes our boundaries of “impossible is nothingâ€?

3. When did the job award?
The job awarded on June 1st.

4. How many people worked on the spots?
Total, we had about 65 people working on the spots—from 3D to roto to compositing, to tracking—you name it, we used it.

5. What tools/programs were used in the production?
Principally we used XSI, Maya, Massive, After Effects, and Flame.

6. Did you face any challenges creatively?
The main challenge was really figuring out a way to create the look. We had made these beautiful styleframes, and then we had to figure out how to make them move.

Hence, a 3 month research and development process and the help of countless compositors, and our collaborators, Boolab, in Barcelona. Finally, we hit upon a solution that incorporated composite techniques with hand drawn cell animation, and we had our look.

7. Anything else we should know?
Just that this was one of the most challenging and satisfying experiences of our careers. Despite all the work, we were actually sad that it was over, but at least we had some amazing pieces to show for it.

Watch “Together” | Full credits

EDIT:At the agency’s request, I updated the video with a slightly different edit.

About the author

Justin Cone

/ justincone.com

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog.

Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.

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  • Wow.

  • Marc B.

    Nicely executed spot and interesting Q&A’s, thanks! However i’m curious how much influence did psyop really get in this campaign?

    I saw this a while ago: http://creativity-online.com/work/view?seed=c1aa6daa

    And i came to the conclusion that i preferred the style and illustrations done by the agency, respectively by Luming & Lance Ma. The result in this TV version unfortunately does seem a little like a filter and not as organic as in the link above.

    It seems that psyop didn’t really design these but just acted as the animation house? I wouldn’t be surprised with a big campaign like this. Anyone with some more info?

  • anonymousdesigner

    I think its interesting that psyop would present a creative solution that they had no idea how it would be executed.

    I also think that perhaps someone like PathosPathos could see, in this moment, just how valuable storyboard designers are. I question if this spot could ever exist if we only used animators to do storyboards…. As PathosPathos suggested was the only proper way of working.

    A 3 month development period. I wonder did TBWA know they were in for that when they signed off on this solution.

    Its beautiful.

  • that is Creative!

  • fort

    @ Marc B. :
    Adidas was in the making for almost over a half of a year. The illustrations you are referring to came out after the design was done on Psyops side. Also the concepts are collaborative between the agency and psyop. Please don’t judge before you really know who was involved.

  • freq

    purdy fancy!

  • very fancy indeed…

  • stunning.. well executed.. R&D on this must have been a lot of fun. Lots of open doors to continue the concept through as well for future ads… Very nice…

  • No disrespect to the spot… I’m digging it. But I don’t understand the following comment in the Q&A’s: “We wanted to avoid the dizzying look of simply a pencil filtered video effect, as in a A-Ha video of the 80s.” No filters were used in the A-Ha video. It was all done by rotoscoped traditionally… by hand.

  • xpez2000

    I wonder why they decided to dissolve to live action at the end…it takes us out of the hand drawn fantasy world which I enjoyed every much. Especially because the story has nothing to do with reality vs fantasy…feels stuck on like an arbitrary agency decision…

  • RaptorRed

    This spot is bland. I can’t believe this spot was in the making for over half a year. There is a notable lack in swooping camera moves, which is a disappointment especially with such grandiose music being played. The hush then cheer could’ve been much more impactful if the imagery were more dramatic. Sure it’s surreal …. the diver flowing into the crowd …. but your eye breaks from it with the almost disjointed shot of the crowd cheering without the diver.

    I think stronger design would have made it more visually impactful. I feel like almost TOO much emphasis is on the hero character bc of how great a color difference there is between the two of them.

    The cut at the end too in the live action sequence was a bit jarring.

    I would’ve expected much more from a company like Psyop. Especially when they spent over half a year making it.

  • borakin

    i think idea is soooo very similiar to this commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVuXnKF-Bb0

  • notyrmamasan

    RaptorRed, to put it term you might understand: ” I can’t believe one so ignorant would so blatantly brandish their stupidity in such a fashion for the whole world to see!” There were 4 spots and different cut down versions of each one of the 4 spots and all these were half a year in the making.
    I feel stronger thought behind your wording would make yr comments more impactful. I wouldn’t have expected much more from the likes of you

  • RaptorRed

    I was talking about quality and not quantity. 4 spots that were built by a large, design based company with a pretty nice resume of reels under its belt could have done this much better.

    ‘Together’ as its moniker implies is an amalgamation of the 4 spots. The still pics that are meant to be I guess design posters of the spots on the web are much prettier. Looking at those I wonder at how the strength of the work did not translate into the spot(s).

    We’re artists. We should be pretty damn critical, which is why you sir, are entitled to your opinion without having to insult other members of the forum.

  • notyrmamasan

    you might be an artist, but obviously one seriously lacking knowledge on how the whole production process works. these artists you often refer to usually have very little to say in the whole creative scheme of a project, and for them to turn out 4 spots of this caliber in 6 months is a pretty amazing feat on its own.
    You sir, if you can’t stand the heat you so freely dish out, then perhaps you should think about staying out of the kitchen.

  • notyrmamasan

    sorry madam!