Issue: February 1, 2008


NEW YORK – Charlex’s executive creative director Alex Weil describes the star character in Verizon’s Thoughtful spot as a "mountain dwelling, flame throwing, samurai, jihadist gorilla with a Romanesque codpiece."

McCann  Erickson creatives came to the studio with an initial Photoshop illustration of what they wanted the fierce creature to look like. Weil and character designer Todd Winter designed the gorilla to be realistic, but not so detailed that it couldn't be effectively animated and rendered.

The agency mandate was to make the gorilla look as much as possible like a character that had just stepped out of a videogame, which uses normal mapping. Modeling supervisor Alex Cheparev first asked for an un-costumed sketch of the gorilla to work from and started the modeling process using real life gorilla references. 

Cheparev used Maya to create a rough, low-rez model of the gorilla and then brought that into Mudbox, allowing him a more hands on approach to what would otherwise be very dense geometry. This also enabled him to achieve detail resembling a high-rez model using texture maps.

He then worked from a rough sketch and reference pictures to make the gorilla's Roman-looking armor, Viking helmet and flame throwers, using standard rigid poly modeling. The hands and face had to be done free form.

References of actual gorilla teeth were used to help create the character's jaw. The character’s cape was created using Maya’s NCloth feature.

Charlex ( lighters came in at the end to add detail and create the look of a battle-hardened warrior. The metallic armor remained shiny but showed signs of aging and definite wear and tear.

Supply & Demand produced the spot with Greg Popp directing. Aaron Langley at Cosmo Street edited the project, which features original music from Face the Music. Headroom handled audio post and The Mill provided telecine services.