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Moonbot Studios: Chipotle “The Scarecrow”

Following up on Johnny Kelly’s insanely successful “Back to the Start” stop-action film for Chipotle is not an easy task. The project mopped up at award shows and was a crowd favorite. Its analogue technique meaningfully echoed Chipotle’s message of bucking factory farming and technologically-powered “progress” for a more hands-on approach to food.

Louisiana-based Moonbot Studios, who won an Academy Award for the short, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore” and set the gold standard for interactive storybooks with the accompanying Morris Lessmore iPad app, was up for the challenge.

Their recently released “The Scarecrow” echoes many of the same themes as “Back to the Start,” and its soundtrack also features a cover of a famous song performed by an unexpected artist. While “Back to the Start” had Willie Nelson singing Coldplay, in “The Scarecrow” Fiona Apple sings “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The effect is equal parts haunting and magical.

It’s also worth noting that Moonbot’s film is entirely CG. A helpful reader added some detail in the comments:

“Moonbot’s film is entirely CG” isn’t entirely accurate, the barn and the kitchen interior were built as miniatures, filmed, and composited into the CG scenes.

Where “Back to the Start” shined a bright light on the hand-crafted nature of its production, “The Scarecrow” dives deeper into its protagonist’s life. While both films are emotionally powerful, “The Scarecrow” feels more like a mini-feature film, executed with the same scale and grandeur as a Pixar film.

Scarecrow: The Game

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Keeping with the Morris Lessmore formula, Moonbot Studios also created an iOS game to accompany “The Scarecrow.” From Moonbot:

Created in collaboration with Chipotle Mexican Grill, “The Scarecrow” is an arcade-style adventure game for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and a companion animated short film. Both pieces depict a scarecrow’s journey to bring wholesome food back to the people by providing an alternative to the processed food that dominates his world.

Posted on 13 September 2013 |

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14 thoughts on “Moonbot Studios: Chipotle “The Scarecrow”

  1. Feels so good to watch this. The art, the music, the animation… the sad cow eyes. Masterful.

    But after the beautiful art is made, and people are paid, I can’t actually fathom how a food CORPORATION like chipotle can actually force this kind of public image, especially when owned by MCDONALDS. As lovely as both this and “back to the start” are…. I just can’t believe the honesty. Like its commercial, it almost feels as if this animation is the plank being repaired to hide the truth.

    sorry to get preachy, but feels like a small soulsuck when you have to promote an image of honesty for a company that well, may not be so honest with us. I guess I’ve been watching too many food documentaries. But, theres no way that a chipotle exists on nearly every other street corner without having to borrow some pointers from its master company – the pink slime factory.

  2. I agree. It may no longer be part of McDonald’s, but this (amazingly beautiful ) animation suggests that Chipoltle doesn’t even serve meat. He just chops a few fresh veggies and serves the tacos. ( no chicken in the back if the truck) . We know they serve meat, but there’s just no way to show that, and keep the “feel-good save-the-world” message that this thing harps so heavily on. Love the art though .

  3. It was a wonderful short that I think will resonate with a lot of people, I just wish it hadn’t gone straight into the shots of the app. I wanted the music to just fade out and let me think about what I had just watched, instead I was smacked in the face with the fact that such a beautiful creation was still just created to advertise a corporation.

    • that was my response to the film. Amazing, beautiful, great execution and great idea for a corporation to invest in. The end of the spot just slaps the whole piece. Why not just leave a URL to find out more about the app, or let the piece guide you back to some branding on the web. Let the piece itself serve as the message, let the app work on its own.

      Still at the end of the day, they went out there to make a piece like this and obviously need some level of branding to it, I get that. And moonbot was also invested in making the app, so of course they would want to promote both.

  4. Thanks for sharing, and just fyi “Moonbot’s film is entirely CG” isn’t entirely accurate, the barn and the kitchen interior were built as miniatures, filmed, and composited into the CG scenes.

  5. that was my response to the film. Amazing, beautiful, great execution and great idea for a corporation to invest in. The end of the spot just slaps the whole piece. Why not just leave a URL to find out more about the app, or let the piece guide you back to some branding on the web. Let the piece itself serve as the message, let the app work on its own.http://ebrandingexperts.com

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