Pluto Makes All the Right Moves for Cox Communications

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BIRMINGHAM, Mich.— Pluto’s design, animation, visual effects and integration skills are highlighted in two eye-catching projects for Cox Communications and Detroit agency Doner. The two campaigns, comprising a total of nine spots, promote Cox’ high-speed Internet and digital media services, and while they involve markedly different styles of animation, both required complex, multi-faceted execution by Pluto’s team of artists. Klaxtar, one of three spots promoting Cox’ high-speed internet service, targets gamers with a clever mix of live and CG elements as a Cox representative talks with a trio of computer-animated warrior robots in futuristic laboratory setting. A fight breaks out between the robots that causes one to lose its head and sends the human technicians scurrying for cover. Pluto used motion capture technology to give the computer-animated characters lifelike movement. Pluto directed the motion capture shoot, conducted at Critical Moves in Detroit, with stunt actors (and a stunt choreographer) used to perform the fight sequence. Data from the shoot was applied to the digital characters and refined by Pluto animators. “We often suggest motion capture to clients as a fast, and cost-effective way to create great, realistic motion,� noted Pluto creative director Dave Corbett, who also acted as visual effects supervisor during the live action shoot that occurred in Los Angeles under the direction of Greg Popp. Compositing of the 3D elements into the live background was accomplished at Pluto, as artists used a number of techniques to achieve seamless integration. “We performed extensive color correction on all layers and elements to make the animation blend into the environment,� Corbett explained. “The environment was given a blue-ish treatment to complement the monotone look of the characters.�

Motion capture was also employed for a campaign titled Feature Education, but in this instance it was used in the creation of stunning, full-frame animation. The spot Pivot introduces Cox’ service of the same name, which includes advanced video, email and wireless phone services. The stylized animation (shaded in the Cox brand’s trademark blue) shows a man walking out of his home and through his yard while talking on the phone, with acrobatic camera moves used to add dynamism to the action. Similar to Klaxtar, motion capture was used as the basis for the man’s movement. Only here, the animated character was placed into an entirely fabricated environment composed of 2D and 3D elements representing the house, furniture, trees and other objects. “For this use of motion capture, we had to think in 3D as we were shooting,� recalled Corbett. “But once we had the captured data, we were able to locate the camera anywhere in the environment. That allowed us to experiment and create the dramatic camera angles and moves.� Pluto also designed and executed all of the graphics and logo treatments featured in the two spots. Although the spots have very different looks, conceptually they have much in common, according to Corbett. “Cox wanted to ‘show’ people using the products,� he said. “Motion capture wasn’t only a good option from a time and budget standpoint, it resulted in a more realistic and superior look. That, in the end, is what the client most wanted.� Pluto is located at 400 Hamilton Row, Birmingham, Michigan 48009. For more information call (248) 723-3333 or visit


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