Famed ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners was working with Frito-Lay to come up with an idea to create a scary Halloween short film to launch their new Cheetos Flamin' Hot Bag of Bones. They had hit on the idea of using classic stop-motion animation for the launch and so contacted Athena Studios. "We loved your reel!" they said. "Thank you, that's very kind" we said (we're humble like that).
GS&P wanted to a 3 minute short that would be launched in a national social media campaign as well as having a theatrical release in theaters in New York and San Francisco. The only problem was that Athena had only 8 weeks before the short had to air. 'It has to be done fast, look great and be done inexpensively. Can you do it?' GS&P asked. "Why of course!" we replied (we're excitable that way).
There was one other little issue... The monsters in the film had to be made from Cheetos bones. Some of them had to be made to match the winners of a Frito-Lays Cheetos Bag of Bones design a monster contest and those winners would not be announced until two weeks before the film's release. "No problem!" we said (we're optimistic like that).
Cheetos The Delivery - House Aniamtion Setup
Cheetos The Delivery
With only 8 weeks Athena Studios needed to come up with a story pitch; storyboard the film; design the characters; build the puppets; figure out how to make Cheetos bones monsters that would not fall apart when animating them; design and build little tiny props and sets; light and film on 4 separate stages; post-production compositing; color grading; visual effects; sound design and music. Someone start brewing the coffee.
Along with its own team Athena drew from artists and technicians who had worked on Coraline, James and the Giant Peach, The Corpse Bride and other stop-motion classics.
Athena developed a story about someone making a special delivery to a house full of Cheetos monsters. The short used the forest and a cemetery set to help build suspense. We drew from classic horror films like The Wolfman, Frankenstein, Blair Witch Project and Attack of the Mole People. Okay, maybe not so much that last one.
The main character and the Cheetos monsters were created in Maya and then 3D printed. The monsters were painted to match the look of actual Cheetos Bones. The Cheetos Dino monster was hand sculpted out of foam with a 3D printed head. We made two and a half puppets of Kat, our main character, so she could be on multiple stages at the same time. She wore a scarf to keep costly mouth animation to a minimum.
Cheetos The Delivery
Running through forest
Set designers made tombstones with clever sayings for the cemetery and a haunted mansion interior and exterior. Athena also made trees for the forest, cemetery and haunted mansion sets. We made lots and lots and lots of trees.
Animators worked tirelessly bringing the characters to life while our post-production crew did rig removal, compositing, enhanced lighting and even added breath to our main character as she ran in the cold air.
Designers, writers, cinematographers, sound designers, animators and visual effects artists worked around the clock to make sure the final short looked great and was completed in time for the Cheetos Flamin' Hot Bag of Bones product launch. Everyone at Athena was thrilled to work with the talented team at Goodby Silverstein & Partners on this delicious project!