To get the latest pitch for LUGZ Footwear up and running, ad agency Avrett Free & Ginsberg called upon the team of artists at PSYOP. The New York-based creative collective directed, designed and animated Arrow, a commercial spot that blends 2D and 3D animation to create a cool world.
PSYOP created :10 and :30 versions of the spot, which and began airing Aug. 1, 2002. Set to the beats of DJ Funkmaster Flex, Arrow takes viewers to Lugz City, a sketched urban cityscape that is virtually transparent and vibrantly stained with the trademark LUGZ orange and black. Against the surreal and layered backdrop of this metro environment, three animated characters breakdance in distinct locations: a building rooftop, a city street and an elevated outdoor subway station. Connecting the dancers is a continuously-moving, darkly-textured 3D arrow, which courses through each scene.
Rory Braunstein, creative director at Avrett Free & Ginsberg, describes Arrow as "a celebration of hip-hop culture in all its forms." He explains, “To those in the know — the arrow is a subtle nod to the art of graffiti."
The arrow’s movement is integrally tied to the footwork and body movements of the breakdancers. It darts around spinning legs, is captured by a pair of cupped hands, and is propelled on to the next scene by foot stomping.
Under Director/Designer Marie Hyon and Animation Director Marco Spier, PSYOP artists spent hours studying the moves of old-school breakdancers to give each character a high level of realism and life-like movement.
“As important as the animation was the look and texture we achieved,” says PSYOP Exec. Producer Justin Booth-Clibborn. Working with XSI and Flame, and using different textural elements such as dry makers, drips and ink spatters, the team was able to create the gritty realism of the urban environment. They also managed to add difficult-to-achieve details such as shiny textures on dark clothing, the shoes and the arrow, as well as the shading of the breakdancers’ bodies and the scattered flecks of dirt produced by fast footwork.