HD Satellite campaign starring ALF
When DIRECTV launched a new satellite to enhance the HD experience in Latin America, they called once again on everyone’s favorite alien life form to be their spokesperson. The Argentinian creative agency Carlos y Dario developed the creative and we executed it. The creative was developed as an online mini series that eventually needed to be cut down for broadcast.
- 3 episode mini series in Spanish and English. Each episode ranging between 1:45min and 2:30min.
- 3 cut down versions of Episode 1 (90sec, 60sec, 30sec)
- 12 variations of Episode 2 (content and timing varied for the different countries/markets)
- 12 variations of Episode 3 (content and timing varied for the different countries/markets)
- 1 Radio spot
CHALLENGES?... NO PROBLEM!
PRE PRODUCTION | SET DESIGN
Despite his bigger than life personality ALF is in fact a hand-operated puppet. This posed many obstacles for the set. We couldn’t find a location that had the look we needed that would also accommodate the needs of Mr. Paul Fusco- the lead puppeteer and voice of ALF. We decided it was best to build our own sets. We found an empty studio the size of ___ for 5 days to accommodate 3 days of built and 2 days of shoot.
The seven sets were built on platforms raised four feet above the ground to allow Mr. Fusco to operate ALF comfortably. Every prop was also built especially to fit ALF’s height and size. The camera was also raised to be at ALF eye level. The crew was split between ground level and ALF level. Safety on set is always a priority for us but this time were more concerned and aware. No accidents happened.
Besides the technical built needs of the set, we also had the challenge of recreating aesthetically believable control room and satellite. Very few rentals were used it was mostly built by our amazing art department.
ALF is a very talented actor, but having worked with him in the previous campaign we knew we needed to allocate the proper time for each scene. As simple as the scenes seemed, ALF technical aspects make it a challenge. We worked long days and gave each scene the time it needed. And props to the AD that kept the shoot on schedule.
Since we didn’t have access to NASA and didn’t actually shot in space, post had the daunting task to enhance the practical sets as well as completely create scenes. In order to do so we enlisted a great team of 3D generalists and VFX artists. The 3D generalists created models for the satellite, earth, popcorn, meteors, iPad, toilet paper, remote control and even created the mini ALF and his parachute.
Our VFX artists had their work cut out dressing up the control room and satellite scenes. There was lots of keying and rotoscoping with the 8 screens in the control room and 16 screens in the satellite. We also had to create all the technological graphic elements that went in each of them, including the asteroids and even the fake movie bumper. Any scene in outer space and in the stratosphere was created by our team. And of course the end tag.
ALF scenes were shot in English but was to air in Spanish. We enlisted the official Spanish voice of ALF. He resides in Mexico and due a scheduling conflict could not fly to the U.S. We coordinated a call-in recording session. He nailed it, of course.
This campaign was to air in the DIRECTV Latin America territory. Besides the cut downs for broadcast (90 secs, 60 secs and 30 secs) of each episode, we also had to update the content of the monitors for each of the different markets.
In the end we delivered over 30 variations of the 3 main episodes.
Though this production was a very demanding from day one, it was very amazing to have worked with such an iconic character. The client was very pleased with the deliverables and the campaign as a whole.