New United Airlines Animated Spots

Sea Orchestra

United Airlines has unveiled five new animated spots for the Beijing Olympics. The commercial are elegant, visually-driven and beautiful to watch, just like the rest of the animated spots that the airline has produced in recent years. Pretentious to be sure, particularly for a carrier like United, but I still appreciate their attempts at fostering a more positive image by utilizing artistic animation. The ad agency responsible for these spots is the newly formed BDM, though two of its principals, Bob Barrie and Stuart D’Rozari, have been instrumental in United’s animation campaigns from the very beginning.

The real standout piece in this latest batch is “Sea Orchestra” (view hi-res version here) by Shy the Sun, the South African collective who also operates under the name The Blackheart Gang and who produced the short Tale of How. In this commercial, they combined hand-drawn textures and photographs into a brilliant and ornate CG package that is bursting at the seams with creativity. The commercial was produced in cinema resolution and I’m sure the visual effect of this on the bigscreen is overwhelming.

There are four other commericals in the series, including one by Ishu Patel. Click on each title below to watch a hi-res version:

“Two Worlds” – From the United press release: The commercial combines two different and distinctive animation styles created by directors SSSR, a Norwegian and Japanese team, who was responsible for the monochromatic world that was mostly computer-generated with a hand-crafted feel, and Gaelle Denis, a French director, who was responsible for the colorful fantasy world that uses using live action, computer generation and matte paintings, including textures such as Japanese rice paper.

“Heart” – From the press release: Using stop-motion animation and paper puppetry, California-based director Jamie Caliri and his team, place dimensional cardboard puppets in miniature sets that were shot frame by frame. The musical score for “Heart” is a piano duet of Rhapsody in Blue performed by Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang, who recently performed “Rhapsody in Blue” together at the 2007 Grammy Awards.

“Moon Dust” – From the press release: Ishu Patel, an Indian-born and Canadian-based animator, used his world-renowned back-lit technique in which a thin layer of plastic modeling clay is applied to a glass plate that has a 1000-watt light positioned beneath it and an animation camera above it.

“Butterfly” – From the press release: Polish director Aleksandra Korejwo manipulated colored salt using shed condor bird feathers on a black canvas positioned under a downward-facing camera.