TCS: Ray Lewis rides our Animatronic Raven for Old Spice

For their newest Old Spice ad, Ad Agency Wieden & Kennedy decided to crank this one to "11". Combining the elements of Baltimore Ravens' bad-ass Middle Linebacker Ray Lewis, a bubble suit, a giant animatronic raven, and a Saturn-blasting trip to outer space, they've created one of the wackiest spots for the brand yet., W+K enlisted radical@media's Steve Miller to direct, and the fine folks at Radical made the obvious choice for creating the giant animatronic Raven: Rick Lazzarini and The Character Shop.

Lazzarini and crew were tasked with two important jobs: Create a "lather" suit, and a humongous Raven replica that had the ability to move its' head, beak, eyes, flap its wings, and seemingly fly away into the sky.

The first thing to figure out was: *exactly* how big do you want this bird? To explore those options, Lazzarini and crew photo-assembled the "perfect Raven" from various existing Raven images. They then photo-assembled an apropriate pose from existing Ray Lewis imagery, then combined the two in various size find out which one was the "funniest"!

Once the size was signed off, actual scale patterns of a Raven were made, and a /14 scale mockup was created, to study the forms. With tweaks and adjustments, a set of full scale patterns was produced, and the body form of the Raven cut from 3/4" thick L300 polyethylene foam. In the meantime, a heavy duty welded understructure war fabricated, and CAD designs for the animatronic mechanisms were begun.:

The beak and eyes needed to be sculpted, molded, cast, and painted:

With a wingspan of 14 feet, no living avian beast could offer up their feathers for our we created our own, oversized quilled feathers. Almost a hundred of them, ranging from 12 to 24 inches long. For the main feathers, we tracked down a *very* cool "fur" fabric, which had a distinctive, glossy look, and which when treated with the right product, looked remarkably Raven feathers! The entire cosmetic approach was *not* to make it extremely realistic, but rather, somewhat stylized.

The wings themselves were made as lightweight as possible, with a specially-sprung hinge to allow realistic wing flapping. Oversized, manual lever controls were employed to provide the "muscle power" needed to make the wings flap:

The steel understructure was fitted for head mechanisms: up/down, side/side, and rotate. These, plus eye blink and beak mechanisms, were all operated via remote control servos.Then, 4 automotive suspension-style airbags were fitted to give the mount a tunable ride. All this then, was mounted to the business end of a Chapman/Leonard Nike crane, allowing the Raven to support the full weight of Linebacker +saddle, and dolly, boom, and pivot its' way into the heavens!

For Lewis' lather suit, Lazzarini and the Character Shop crew experimented with many different materials that might achieve that lather "look". What they settled on was a simple solution: A white cotten spandex undersuit, to which puffy fiberfill was glued and stitched. In turn, a "rave machine" was employed to dispense an actual bubbly lather, which then adhered to the nooks and crannies of the fiberfill, for an actual foam look.

We took it all on set, and Ray Lewis was very good-natured about being put into a foam suit, tossing a saddle onto the Raven, and flying off into the stratosphere! So far, the spot has been quite a hit, and we're glad and proud to have contributed to the zany Old Spice family of commercials!


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