Consumer electronics rank high on holiday wish lists but who doesn't enjoy a gift of chocolates on any occasion? So when creative collective Tronic Studio sculpted an animated array of the latest Sony products from digital chocolate in a whimsical holiday spot for the Sony Style stores, they demonstrated that life can be "Sweet" indeed.
Conceived, directed and animated by Tronic Studio, the "Sweet" spot comes on the heels of a playful all CG Sony HDNA spot the studio created for the Sony Style stores earlier this year. Sony Style retail stores, designed to be especially technology-friendly, showcase Sony products and demonstrate how they can be integrated into consumers' lifestyles.
"Sony asked us to produce a new spot for their holiday campaign which associates chocolate, the holidays and Sony products," notes Vivian Rosenthal, who founded Tronic with Jesse Seppi. "The Sony Style stores were planning product displays fabricated from chocolate-colored plastic so we had the idea to make larger-than-life Sony products come to life out of chocolate."
Chocolate Headphones, Camcorder, SLR
With that in mind, Tronic Studio devised a storyline in which chocolate pours from the sky in different urban neighborhoods to create giant, Jeff Koons-like sculptures of a Sony digital SLR camera, a PSP, stereo headphones, a Handicam camcorder and a laptop computer. "We were interested in the exploring the shape shifting nature of chocolate, how it begins as a liquid and solidifies into a recognizable form," explains Rosenthal.
"It's gift-giving in a most unexpected way," says Seppi. "Actually, sculpting the products in chocolate speaks to the real-world manufacturing of the products: Plastic molding and shaping is not dissimilar from chocolate-making."
It's Raining Chocolate
The video opens with chocolate pouring from the sky, flooding a highway and forming a huge digital SLR camera and lens. More chocolate rains down on a tennis court to sculpt a PSP, on a bridge approach to form stereo headphones, and on a park tucked in a highway cloverleaf to make a Handicam camcorder. Finally, the ribbons of chocolate pour onto an expanse of lawn to sculpt a giant laptop whose wafer-thin screen is embossed with "Sweet."
Tronic directed live-action HD shoots across Manhattan to capture the background footage using dynamic tilts and pans and shooting from atop an apartment for an aerial view of the maze of highways. "We searched to find locations that weren't too iconic," notes Rosenthal. "We wanted an urban feel while that would appeal to customers in Sony Style stores anywhere."
3Ds Max, Real Flow, Mental Ray, Final Render
Using 3ds max for animation and Real Flow fluid dynamics software for the chocolate pour, Tronic crafted the Sony sculptures. Time remapping speeded the period between the liquid pour and the chocolate's solid state while animated effects changed the chocolate's look from glossy to matte as the liquid hardened. Mental Ray and Final Render were tapped for rendering.
Tronic also added some holiday iconography, deploying peppermint-striped chocolate for the PSP sculpture and weaving red ribbons through the spot to tie up the fully-formed products like gifts.
Camera matching and tracking software seamlessly connected the live- action camera moves and the CG products. Skies were replaced throughout to unify the time of day and the look of skies, which had been affected by wind and clouds during the shoot.
"Believable, yet Absurd"
The result is an attention-getting spot which is "believable yet absurd and surreal at the same time," says Rosenthal. "It's a pretty abstract idea," Seppi notes. "Some of the Sony Style stores don't have the chocolate plastic product displays so shoppers won't necessarily see the connection between chocolate-like products in the store and the chocolate products in the video. So the video played in the stores has to stand on its own as a narrative."
Tronic's whimsical visuals succeed in catching the eyes of the busiest holiday shoppers and passersby as the video is displayed in windows and throughout the retail stores. "It instantly connects with people's emotions, uplifts their spirits and makes them smile," says Rosenthal. Sweet!