The Boy Who Learned to Fly: Usain Bolt

Over the weekend, Usain Bolt won his third straight Olympic gold medal in the men’s 100-meter dash, defending his title as “The World’s Fastest Man.”

Working with agency TBWA\Chiat\Day and Gatorade, Academy Award-winning Moonbot Studios crafted “The Boy Who Learned to Fly,” a moving mini-biography of Bolt’s upbringing in Jamaica.

Directors Limbert Fabian and Jake Wyatt imbued the project with the island nation’s sunny palette while managing to build a sense of conflict around Bolt’s rise to stardom. The deceptively simple flat-shaded look is anchored by elegant camera work, delightful transitions and masterful moments of character animation.

Behind the scenes

The making of featurette feels agency-produced, but it includes some great production imagery. The insights behind the character design process (around 2:20) are particularly interesting.

Early artwork shows the evolution of the film’s look. While the end product is unabashedly CG, the development work included hand-drawn line work and heavy texturing.

 

The team also needed to create three Usain Bolts: child, teenager and adult.

Style frames

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Credits

Client: Gatorade

Senior VP / General Manager: Brett O’Brien
Head of Consumer Engagement: Kenny Mitchell
Director of Digital Strategy: Jeff Miller
Senior Manager Digital: Abhishek Jadon
Senior Director Sport and Athlete Services: Jeff Kearney
Gatorade Sports Marketing: Kyle Grote
Gatorade Sports Marketing: Aminah Charles
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day

Chief Creative Officer: Brent Anderson
Executive Creative Director: Renato Fernandez
Creative Director: Mark Peters
Senior Copywriter: Cyrus Coulter
Senior Art Director: Paulo Cruz

Director of Production: Brian O’Rourke
Executive Producer: Guia Iacomin
Senior Producer: Stephanie Dziczek
Producer: Cristina Martinez
Print Producer: Gabriella Nourse
Art Producer: Gabrielle Sirkin

Managing Director: Jerico Cabaysa
Brand Director: Robyn Morris
Brand Manager: Erika Buder
Associate Brand Manager: Theo Kirkham-Lewitt

Group Planning Director: Scott MacMaster
Global Planning Director: Martin Ramos
Planning Director: Abigail Weintraub
Planner: Matt Bataclan

Director of Business Affairs: Linda Daubson
Business Affairs Managers: Stefanie McCall, Mimi Hirsch
Senior Traffic Operations Manager: Judy Brill

Animation Company: Moonbot Studios
Directors: Limbert Fabian, Jake Wyatt
Producer: Wendell Riley
Executive Producers: Lampton Enochs, Brandon Oldenburg, Trish Farnsworth-Smith
Editor: Calvin O’Neal Jr.

Storyboards
Kenny Callicutt
Limbert Fabian
Adam Volker
Jake Wyatt

Art Supervisor
Kenny Callicutt

Production Art
Renee Bates
James Cassettari
Jacob Eaton
Tyler Schatz
Leela Wagner

Lighting and Compositing
Megan Deane
JD Gardner
Justin Holt
Thomas Moore
Gordon Pinkerton
Kaleb Rice
Logan Scelina
Russell Smith

Animation Supervisor
John Durbin

Layout Lead
Bri Meyer

Animation
Jason Behr
Beavan Blocker
Andrew Stovesand
David Wilson

Additional Animation
Ryan Federman
Bohdon Sayre
Heather Shrewsbury

CG Supervisor
Megan Deane

CG Generalists
JD Gardner
Justin Holt
Bri Meyer
Kendra Philips
Gordon Pinkerton
Kaleb Rice
Logan Scelina
Russell Smith

Rigging Supervisor
Rick Silliker

Rigging
Chris Lesage

Rigging Intern
Ryan Federman

Pipeline Supervisor
Brennan Chapman

Pipeline
Craig Barnett
Alex Widener

Production Coordinator
Carrie Watts
Production Assistant
Elena Hibbs

Editorial Assistant
James M. Cook

Gatorade

Kenny Mitchell
Jeff Miller
Abhishek Jadon
Aminah Charles
Kyle Grote

Moonbot Staff
Head of Production
Trish Farnsworth-Smith

Chief Financial Officer
Barbie Cannon

Marketing Director
Sara Hebert

IT Support
Stephen Vekovius
Greg Beason

Office Manager
Stefanie Riegel

Human Resources
Crissy Malone-Golden
Katie Wyatt

Recruiting
Madeline Kawanaka

Legal
Brian Cowan

Music: South

Sound Design & Mix: 740 Sound
Mixer: Larry Winer
Sound Designers: Chris Pinkston, A Josh Reinhardt, Rob Marshall
Executive Producer: Scott Ganary
Producer: Jeff Martin
Associate Producer of Mix: Geena Richard

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About the author

Justin Cone

/ justincone.com
Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer and F5. 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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  • JRI007

    did i miss something in the credits ? who were the actual animators ???

    • We received two sets of credits, and it appears that one was incomplete. We’ve updated the credits on the post to reflect the entire team. Thanks for catching this!