S4 Studios Goes Green for Live Earth

Animation will pitch in to help save the planet this weekend as NBC Universal HD airs its 22-hour coverage of Al Gore’s Live Earth, an event that has been dubbed ‘the concert for a climate in crisis.’ The broadcast will feature a fully-animated, 45-second 3D promo created by the S4 Studios team of director Geoffrey Kater, producer Larry Le Francis and creative director Thomas Helmintoller.

Titled ’7.7.07,’ the animated promo takes viewers on a virtual tour through seven venues hosting the worldwide concert event on Saturday, July 7. The piece opens on a metallic-looking Morse S.O.S code, which rotates around to reveal the Earth as a desert-like, pollution-shrouded planet. It then flashes through a series of graphic representations of each host city’New York, London, Johannesburg, Sydney, Hamburg, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro’before retreating rapidly out into space to reveal a healed and thriving globe.

The challenge from Universal HD was to create a promo that would create excitement for the telecast and, at the same time, drive home an awareness through music of what was going to happen if we all don’t answer the SOS from our planet,’ says Kater. ‘It had to convey a lot of information about each venue in a very short time.’

Kater goes on to say that the oproduction process was a truly organic one. ‘We hit on the idea of using the representative native plant life in each city as a device, not only for moving from one part of the world to another, but also as a great way to show at least a partial list of the groups performing in each venue,’ he adds. ‘Sarah Pierce and her team at NBC Universal’s Emerging Networks division was a great client. They had the confidence to give us free reign to tackle the problem with some rather unique design solutions.’

Presentation storyboards were created using Wacom’s Cintiq interactive pen display, then animated using LightWave 7 and Adobe After Effects. ‘The Cintiq is one of the coolest new tools I’ve ever used, because it allows me to do pencil and color right away, avoiding the roughness usually associated with pitch boards,’ Kater states. ‘This way, if the client is satisfied, I can go right in and do style frames, and that saves a lot of time better spent in production.’

Live Earth will feature more than 150 of the world’s most popular bands playing live to an expected audience of more than two billion people turning in on cable, the internet and radio. The event also serves to launch the Live Earth ‘Call to Action,’ which will ask the audience to support a seven-point pledge of monetary support and personal action to cut global warming pollution by 90%.

Additional S4 Studios credits include artist/animator Sarah Keturah, 3D modeler/animator Ken Wilder and 3D Modeler Don McCoy. To view the promo and learn more about the company, go to www.s4studios.com.