A tiny 3D purple pixel appears at the far edge of vision, then tumbles maniacally toward the viewer while issuing a Yahoo- esque yodel from its embedded speaker to open "Purple Hunt", a frenetic spot promotion an online code breaking game for Yahoo Philippines. The all CG spot was produced for Ogilvy, Singapore, by creative collaborative Tronic Studios.
Ogilvy approached Tronic Studios for its prowess in designing and animating abstract concepts, which was the feeling they wanted for "Purple Hunt," according to Jeff Wolfe, Executive Producer at Tronic Studio. "Ogilvy asked us if we could bring an abstraction, the pixel, to life. We loved the idea and set about creating both concept and story line."
From Microcosm to Macro-world
"The agency had a few desires for us to filter," added Vivian Rosenthal, Tronic Studio partner and executive producer. "Key was how to jump scale from the micro universe of the pixel to the macro world of objects, like a magnifying glass or newspaper, that are comprised of myriad pixels. The other issue - the pixels had to have some personality and innate intelligence to find their places in each emerging object."
"Purple Hunt" opens with a brief intimate moment in which a single pixel careens at the viewer. As the camera pans with the pixel it becomes part of a communal swarm, or flock, of intelligent pixels. As the spot races along the intelligent pixels, each cleverly designed to represent a Yahoo offering (music, fashion, art, sports, etc.), swarm into one Yahoo icon after another, yodeling wildly as they fly through space to take up their appointed places. At breakneck speed, the pixels repeatedly create an object than dissolve, than form another object: magnifying glass (search), newspaper (news), smiley face (messenger) letter (email,) etc.
Particles and Pixels
Each pixel is a fully articulated 3-dimensional cube, which when combined with their sister pixels form 3-dimensional images. "We played around with different hooks to represent Yahoo's web icons as closely as possible," said Jesse Seppi, Tronic partner and CD. "Yahoo's icons are pretty well differentiated with a kind of outline. Since we were going for a 3 dimensional feeling, we created a hybrid look that, while very much a 3D object, retains the outline."
"That cycle of scale, personality and individuality, plus a communal feel, undulates between ideas (objects) as we tell the larger Yahoo story," added Seppi. "The flow repeats between shapes - the magnifying glass, newspaper, an envelope and finally, a smiley face."
Tronic's key technical challenge was matching the particles, the pixels, to their specific destination spots. "We had to model the shapes, smiley face or newspaper, of individual cubes," said Seppi. "Every cube in the particle system had a specific slot to find, which required quite a bit of work since we were building a smart swarm of hundreds of pixels that recycled from object to object throughout the spot."
Think Purple Find Purple, Win Purple
When the smiley face dissolves, the pixels form a full-screen game board, each representing one of Yahoo's specialized categories, while the voice-over invites viewers to join the Purple Hunt on Yahoo Philippines. The spot closes with the title and the audio pixel's speaker vibrating to the Yahoo yodel.
Using a combination of Cebas Thinking Particles, MaxScript and Particle Flow Tronic comped everything together to create the final look. "We used Particle Flow to make the pixels come apart and come together, which provided a great deal of control over the way everything materializes and dematerializes to how the swarms move and coalesce while each pixel finds its specific location on its destination shape," said Seppi. Here we employed Cebas' Thinking Particles and MaxScript, which provide a little more flexibility than does Particle Flow."