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Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

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  • Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

    Redenbacher Pops Back Via CGI
    January 22, 2007
    ADWEEK
    By Kamau High


    Orville is reborn.
    NEW YORK Orville Redenbacher, the (long-deceased) familiar face of gourmet popcorn, reintroduced himself to America during last week's Golden Globe Awards broadcast with his familiar greeting, "Hello, I'm Orville Redenbacher." Only this time, he did it while brandishing an MP3 player. "These MP3 players get lighter everyday!" he says in the spot as he proceeds to do his classic popping comparison test, this time using a microwave instead of a standard popper.

    What makes this spot different isn't that a dead icon returned to pitch a product. TV viewers saw Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney with a singing Elton John in a 1991 Diet Coke ad, and Fred Astaire dancing with a Dirt Devil in 1997. But this spot, created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, features an entirely re-created character's head, not the insertion of old footage into a new spot.

    "We've done digital humans before, but usually when we do that kind of work it's in stunts or action scenes. We've never done it for a commercial," said Ed Ulbrich, president of the commercials division of Digital Domain in Venice, Calif. "We created a photorealistic human not just to appear on screen, but to deliver lines in close-up."

    ConAgra Foods has been reacquainting consumers with Redenbacher since November 2005, when it began rerunning a classic commercial from the 1970s featuring the founder and former brand spokesman. A second spot ran months later. They used original footage updated with a product shot of the brand's microwave popcorn and a new tagline, "Celebrating 40 years of making the perfect popcorn."

    Bill Wright, vp and creative director, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, said during a Webcast about the spot last Tuesday, "We thought, 'How can we get [Redenbacher] back pitching this popcorn like we all remember watching him doing on TV when we were growing up?'"

    The new 30-second spot, directed by David Fincher (whose next film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with Brad Pitt, will use the technology), is the first of three in the campaign (there is a :30 and one :15 to come).

    To create it, a clay sculpture was made of Redenbacher's head from existing footage that was then scanned into a computer to make a 3-D model. (A software-generated skeleton and muscle system was rigged to make it appear more natural.)

    Also, an actor was filmed in a blue ski mask, and his head was then erased and replaced with the model, with movements matched to the actions of the actor whose body was filmed. The results were composited.

    The work took about eight months to complete. Ulbrich said they used "nearly all of Digital Domain's resources to render some of these scenes. We had about 40 artists on this. At times these 22 seconds of animation used as much work as a major film."

    In the spot, Redenbacher, who was 88 when he died, appears to be in his mid-60s, said Gary Redenbacher, Orville's grandson, during the same Webcast. "A lot of the archival footage is from" that time, he said.

    Close-up shots of digitized humans speaking have been seen in films such as The Polar Express and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. While these characters have met with mixed reviews, Ulbrich thinks there may be more opportunities for digitally created actors in commercials: "With digital spokespeople ... you never have to worry if someone is available."
    Per sources, the spot shown during the Golden Globe Awards cost less than $2 million to make plus $350,000-400,000 for the media buy. Print will run in February issues of national magazines.


    Some in the industry have called the TV spot "creepy," citing a flatness to the character that feels inhuman. And not everyone believes the technology is ready for the spotlight. Kevin Townsend, managing partner, Science+Fiction and former president and gm for commercial production for ILM from 1993 to 1999, said, "The technology has caught up to where we can create photorealistic characters. The question is, do we have the talent to animate them?"
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

  • #2
    Re: Orville Redenbacker from the great beyond!

    I saw that commercial, and I thought that it didn't even look like Orville.

    Maybe it was just me. Seemed a bit 'plasticized'...
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    • #3
      Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

      It was a bit creepy to be honest :lol:.

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      • #4
        Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

        You know what it reminded me of? The Magic Mountain commercial with the dancing old guy...
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        • #5
          Re: Orville Redenbacker from the great beyond!

          Originally posted by Demigod View Post
          I saw that commercial, and I thought that it didn't even look like Orville.

          Maybe it was just me. Seemed a bit 'plasticized'...
          I agree. It didn't look enough like him. I was waiting for someone to pull the "mask" off at the end of the commercial. Creepy!

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          • #6
            Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

            Originally posted by Disney Wrassler View Post
            It was a bit creepy to be honest :lol:.
            Yes, and very stupid. I don't want to eat popcorn adverstised by a guy that's pushing up daisies. What's he use, a medium?

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            • #7
              Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

              I thought it was an actor. I'll be interested to watch more closely the next time I see it.

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              • #8
                Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

                Creepy indeed!! Let the poor man, along with our memories of him, rest in peace for chrissake!!

                What next? CGI Harlan Sanders? CGI Dave Thomas? Just leave them be and come up with a new marketing ploy!

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                • #9
                  Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

                  Very creepy. I saw this and my mouth dropped open.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

                    what a scary comercial
                    sigpicDISNEYROYALTY

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                    • #11
                      Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

                      Is there a link to view it online? Can't seem to find one, and the article doesn't link to one either.

                      CGI humans do appear too plastic-y. Though it'll be fun one day to see CGI Joan and CGI Bette hold hands and skip down the street together while smoking....
                      I am grateful... grapefruit! ~ Bjork (upon winning Best International Female Artist at the BRIT Awards)
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                      • #12
                        Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

                        It was definitely creepy. I was waiting for him to say, "The only thing better than My Orville Redenbacher popcorn is BRAINS!" Then he proceeds to bite down on the head of the person next to him.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

                          Originally posted by Melonballer View Post
                          It was definitely creepy. I was waiting for him to say, "The only thing better than My Orville Redenbacher popcorn is BRAINS!" Then he proceeds to bite down on the head of the person next to him.
                          ROFLMFAO!!!!!! That is the funniest thing I've heard all week!! Seriously, I have tears coming down my face imagining that.

                          Thanks MB!!!

                          OH and I found the commerical on youtube. Seriously, read the comments on youtube... freakin hysterical!! The commericial is SCARY. Why the heck does he have an ipod anyway? Whats it have to do with popcorn? Or is it just to show: LOOK AT WHAT WE DID WITH CGI???

                          Now the next question: How do we KILL Zombie Redenbacher! Shoot it between the eyes! Shoot it! AAAAAUUGGGHHHHH!
                          Last edited by Chernabog; 01-24-2007, 12:59 PM.
                          I am grateful... grapefruit! ~ Bjork (upon winning Best International Female Artist at the BRIT Awards)
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                          • #14
                            Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

                            Originally posted by Chernabog View Post
                            ROFLMFAO!!!!!! That is the funniest thing I've heard all week!! Seriously, I have tears coming down my face imagining that.
                            Thanks MB!!!

                            Now the next question: How do we KILL Zombie Redenbacher! Shoot it between the eyes! Shoot it! AAAAAUUGGGHHHHH!
                            You are welcome.

                            As for how to kill him. I say we give him an ipod shaped bomb. He'll be grooving to it and then BOOM! no more zombie.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Orville Redenbacher: Back from the great beyond!

                              Originally posted by Melonballer View Post
                              You are welcome.

                              As for how to kill him. I say we give him an ipod shaped bomb. He'll be grooving to it and then BOOM! no more zombie.
                              Oooh! Ooooh! I know, or we could insert an explosive into the Bride of Deadenbacher (the mummified living corpse of Joan Rivers would work perfectly) and when he goes for HER still-intact somewhat alive brains then BOOM! Instant Orrie-B-Gone!
                              I am grateful... grapefruit! ~ Bjork (upon winning Best International Female Artist at the BRIT Awards)
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                              Founding Member of the BA!

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