Z Animation Helps Microsoft Realize Potential

Z Animation has created and produced the entire animation package for the third installment of Microsoft’s global ‘Realizing Potential’ corporate branding campaign. The live action/animated TV, print and Internet initiative was launched by ad agency McCann-Erickson/San Francisco in 2002, but this is the first time the campaign has been produced entirely in HD.

Featuring English-language narration by acclaimed actor William H. Macy, the ‘Realizing Potential’ project specifically highlights Microsoft’s education and economic development efforts in 32 countries throughout Europe, Asia and America. Z Animation collaborated with live-action production company Anonymous Content to produce the six spots in the campaign, created by the McCann-Erickson team of creative director/copywriter Dante Lombardi and creative/art director Chris Toland. Editing was handled by Mad River Post, final compositing by A52 Post and music by Elias Arts.

As with the previous campaigns, the familiar Microsoft animated ‘white line’ is used as a transitional device, metaphorically turning dreams to reality. ‘Production wise, we were looking for an animation studio that would take the campaign into the CG world but still maintain the hand-drawn animation look of past campaigns,’ says McCann-Erickson executive producer Matthew Winks.

Led by producer Michael Pierce, co-directors Joel Parod and Claire Armstrong-Parod, and animation technical director Joseph Emerling, the Z Animation team used Bauhaus Software’s Mirage 2D animation software to complete their portion of the work. ‘We went with Mirage because it could give us that soft pencil, hand-drawn look the agency wanted, and could also handle the huge animation files required for HD ,’ says Parod. ‘Many of our animators actually preferred Mirage over traditional animation, because it allowed us to import the live action footage and draw the white line right over the screen, while also creating mattes and composites.’

The new spots in Microsoft’s ‘Realizing Potential’ campaign are initially airing in the U.S., France, Germany, South Korea, Japan and China, and other nations in the EC, Asia and Pacific Rim are able to tailor their own versions. More information on Z Animation is available online at www.zanimation.tv.