It’s Not Easy Being CG?

With the signature line "It’s not easy being cheesey," Chester Cheetah has been helping to sell Frito-Lay’s Cheetos brand snack foods. Now, at the hands of ad agency BBDO, New York and New York-based visual effects company Quiet Man, the traditionally cel-animated Chester is getting a CG makeover.

A new spot titled Field Trip marks Chester’s 3D debut. It’s also the first major spot in which the character is seen almost exclusively in a live-action environment. The sunglasses-sporting cool cat appears in a classroom as a substitute teacher to introduce Twisted Cheetos. He then takes the kids to an amusement park to ride a roller coaster that spirals around like the snack.

Veteran cel animator David Feiss, who has drawn Chester for the past several years, aided animation supervisor/director Dave Shirk and the team at Quiet Man. Feiss is the creator of the Cartoon Network series Cow and Chicken.

“He helped us make sure we had the look just right, and that we were able to straddle the world of 2D and 3D,” says Shirk. “The key was getting the right amount of realism to Chester, without losing his cartoony feel.”

Quiet Man’s animation testing process began in the summer of 2002 utilizing

a beta version of Softimage’s XSI software.

Quiet Man president and creative director Johnnie Semerad served as lead Flame artist for the composites of the CG Chester and the live-action footage, which was directed by Steve Chase of Reactor Films.

The Quiet Man team includes animators Boris Ustaev and Fabio Tobar, Flame artist Chris Coleman, designer Jason Sienkwicz and technical animator Bradley Gabe. The spot was produced for the studio by Carey Gattyan and executive produced by Amy Taylor.

Agency credits for Field Trip go to senior executive creative director Michael Patti, creative director/art director John Leu, creative supervisor/art director Eric Van Skyhawk, creative supervisor/copywriter Justin Racz and producer Alexandra Sterlin. The spot was edited by Sherri Margulies at Crew Cuts.