This. Is. Sprinnngggfield!
The Simpsons is a staple of the American culture. Its crude, vulgar, gluttonous sense of humor mirrors the sentiments of many Americans’. As we settle down and celebrate the harvest of the New Land we live in, we give thanks to Matt Groening and his iconic creations that have led to more than 600 episodes of America’s favorite cartoon family. 600 episodes is nothing to bat an eyelash at. It tops our current favorite 80’s sitcom, “Automan,” by at least 587 episodes. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we help FXX craft a spot that pays homage to another monumental achievement in Spartan filmmaking: “300.”
Sure, at first sight you’d think that 300 and The Simpsons have little in common. But you would be incorrect in that assessment. Especially in light of the Thanksgiving battle victory this spot was to commemorate. The spot is a call to action for gluttony. A call to arms, and Turkey legs, to indulge your lusts for more Simpsons episodes. It pulls from the quick graphic camera moves that made the end credit sequence of “300” such a dynamic animation and replaces the rock hard (airbrushed) abs of Spartan soldiers with the squishy beer belly of Barney, the Duff Guy, and the titular family.
Instead of spears and blood splatter framing our action, we had knives and forks and pink donut and beer splatter. Our homage to the “300” end sequence included similar wide angle compositions of crowds of Springfieldians rushing camera to get their mouths around the Turkey’s running for their lives.
We had to be faithful to the character models of the Simpsons cast. At this point, Lisa’s hair silhouette is as iconic as the American flag. Same with Marge’s perm, and Homer’s immaculately placed two hairs. It’s a 2D show, which makes the characters consistent no matter what angle the camera is looking at them. But for what we wanted to do, we needed moments of 3D moves that revolved around the action to transition us to a new composition. It meant we needed to be clever in how we orchestrated the characters. We used a combo of 3D elements with 2D characters to mimic a full 3D move. Some elements were rendered in 3D space as silhouettes (which quite honestly helped us achieve the look). We had liberties with the less iconic elements of the show, like the splatter, and the turkeys. Those elements would benefit from a little 3D rotation, which we kept the CG moves away from the characters of the show.
Eat Up Homer…Eat Up America.
It’s not too often you get to work with the heroes of your childhood. We’ve had the pleasure of working with some of our idols (like Michael Knight), and some more historical tentpoles of our childhood (like Disney feature animation). Working with FXX on a franchise like The Simpsons is an honor we value. We love the challenge of twisting two brands, like The Simpsons and 300, into one spot.
Having the liberty to experiment with the characters, silhouette them out, let their eyes be their expression was an awesome creative challenge for us. Giving the scenes as much depth as the 2D characters would allow was also a creative challenge we hurdled over by adding a little atmosphere to each group of characters. It was a great project, for a great cause: Gluttony. We can support that. Now if you excuse us, we have a Slim Jim to finish.