May 5, 2005


LOS ANGELES - Z Animation's ( husband and wife co-directing team of Claire Armstrong and Joel Parod recently completed a new animated :30 spot for Longford Homes, an Albuquerque, NM-based residential and commercial developer.

A client-direct spot, "Home of Your Dreams" was produced by Z Animation's executive producer Peter Barg, and is targeted mainly at first-time homebuyers. Matching humor with 2D line animation, "Dreams" displays the Longford Design System, a revolutionary concept in home buying that allows home buyers to modify and personalize their selected floor plans online, as if they were buying a custom home. The spot will run in Albuquerque spot markets and features a color palette reflective of that region.

Freelance copywriter Jeff Goetz came up with the "You dream it, we build it" tag line. Claire Armstrong designed the spot around a simple line animation style, accented by textured, southwest-colored backgrounds. The spot opens with a playfully bantering couple as they customize their new home online. The animation pushes through the scene and into the couple's home computer. Animation morphs, expands and moves around the property to reveal all the possible configurations of the new home which is complemented by trees, bushes, an unfurling driveway and dog playing in the front yard. The dog, in fact, will be a part of Longford Homes' ongoing branding strategy.

Co-director Joel Parod storyboarded the spot, animated keyframes, and painted the earthtone Santa Fe backgrounds on canvas. Storyboards were then scanned into Leitch DPS Velocity editing system as an animatic to get down the basic voice and music timings. A pencil test was then created in Digicel Flipbook, a low-cost animation program used to test rough motion.

Armstrong hand-animated the action entirely in graphite pencil. Individual scenes and backgrounds were then scanned into Cambridge Animation Systems' Animo 6.0, which was used to finesse camera angles, as well as for compositing levels and color elements for each scene. Final editing and rendering was then done back in Velocity.

"We like using Animo because it is extremely user friendly once you get to know it," says Armstrong. "We were easily able to composite, adjust the colors, finalize camera moves and do vector mapping of overlapping images, all in the early stages of production."

Composer Ben Zebelman and producer Jan Horowitz of DHMA/New York created the original track. Stan Piekarski of Vision Tracks in St. Louis handled the final mix.

Animo support was provided by Cormac Slevin of Cambridge Animation Systems, and Debbie Forster and Anna Saunders provided animation clean up.