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Train - AT&T
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Train - AT&T - AT&T

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Title of Entry: Train
Brand: AT&T
Product/Service: AT&T
Client: AT&T
Entrant Company: BBDO New York
Creative Agency: BBDO New York
Duration of Entry: 01:30
Chief Creative Officer: David Lubars (Chief Creative Officer Worldwide), Greg Hahn (Chief Creative Officer New York)
Creative Director: Matt MacDonald (Group Executive Creative Director), David Povill/ David Cuccinello (Executive Creative Directors), Kevin Mulroy/ Dan Kenneally (Creative Directors)
Art Director: Dan Kenneally
Copywriter: Kevin Mulroy
Account Executive: Rachel Nairn/ David McKenzie/ Allie Knill
Account Manager: Mac Russell (Communications Planning Director)
Production Company: Furlined
Date of Release: 2019-04-23
Producer: David Thorne (Senior Executive Producer), Karen O'Brien (Line Producer)
Director: Dougal Wilson
Notes: This work was created specifically for theatergoers in an effort to reach and develop new audiences for AT&T. Media was bought with National CineMedia and put 90-second branded content in movie theaters prior to almost every movie that was released in 2018. The first half of the film, a “western,” is a common U.S. genre of film that captures the American Wild West in the 1800s. The second half of the film is the “family film” genre, which consists of friendly movies made for all generations. To achieve an authentic western, we traveled to the country’s oldest operational steam locomotive, located in Ely, Nevada. The remote landscape worked in tandem with the train to credibly drop us into the environment of an old western. We found authentic period wardrobe from the props house that outfitted John Wayne, and cast bandits who were antiheroes in every way: grizzled faces oozing menace and ill will. Afterwards we recreated the entire scene in stop-motion animation. We developed a cute, family-friendly look for the train, cast and environment, created entirely from scratch. Each train was given its own predetermined character traits to differentiate it from the others. The figurines were handcrafted from caricature sketches of the actors we cast for the opening of the spot. In order to credibly drop the audience into an authentic western genre, we had to replicate the tropes of the genre: sweeping landscapes, gritty close-ups and dramatic camera moves. We cut to the interior of the train and exterior POV shots to ramp up the suspense in the film. These scenes were all shot to feel dustier than the actual temperature, which was below zero. We landed on a washed, technicolor color grade to contrast with the second half: a colorful family film. In this segment, we planned for camera moves within the stop-motion animation, so the film felt as alive as the first half. To match the live-action western opening, we chose an animation style that would dupe the viewer for a moment once the dust settled: stop-motion animation. In doing so, we go from a (seemingly) practical full-scale train to a small-scale miniature. The most critical visual of the film was nailing this transitional moment, including timing out the CG dust elements with the stop-motion. In addition, we recreated all the elements of the live-action environment in this new miniature world, including the conductors, bandits, and landscape (including animals) while giving it charming, kid-friendly stylization. And of course, matching the stop-motion performance to an original song, complete with sweeping camera movements, was quite the challenge. The VFX company conceptualized the spot’s Western environment and mapped out the flow of the train crash with previz. They then tackled severe weather challenges in post, as each of the three shoot days in Nevada had different weather, ranging from sun to clouds to 7 inches of snow from a freak snowstorm. To establish continuity in the sequence and remove the snow, Method had to replace the entire background throughout with matte paintings based on early concepts. Additionally, they created the crash sequence completely in CG, since we couldn’t actually derail the oldest functioning steam locomotive in the country.
DOP: Joost Van Gelder
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest, Zoe Schack (Assistant Editor)
Sound Studio: Formosa
Sound Engineer: John Bolen (Mixer/ Sound Designer), Dougal Wilson/ Nathan Kil/ Joel Simon (Composer)
VFX Company: Method Studios
Music Company: JSM Music
Post Production Company: MPC LA/ MPC London (Color Company), House Special (Stop Motion Animation)
Other Credits: David Rolfe (Director of Integrated Production), Julie Collins (Group Executive Producer), Jessica Coccaro (Executive Producer)