TCS scores all the touchdowns!

TCS creates awesome FX for hilarious Super Bowl 2020 ad for Reese's Take 5 bar

A baby typing, a miniature purple Alien, and a guy with his head up his bum. These are all the things you see around a normal office, right? Well, Dummy Director Harold Einstein thinks so, and as he's done many times before, he once again called on The Character Shop to bring to life these crazy concepts through the use of Practical and Animatronic Puppetry.

Reese's needed to boost awareness of their Take 5 candy bar with a big, big Super Bowl 2020 ad. Agency McGarry Bowen, tasked to provide, chose Einstein and his Production Company, Dummy to take the concept to the goal line.

The spot starts with “Trish” eating a Take 5 bar at her desk. When she’s asked what she’s eating, she says “It’s a Take5 bar”. When her co-worker says he doesn’t know what it is, she says, “Where have you been? Under a rock?” And in fact, that’s where he’s been! What follows is an avalanche of silly idioms, literally played out: Are ya clueless? Born yesterday? Raised by Wolves? From another planet? and so on, with each visual pun set up and knocked out of the stadium.

For some of these visual gags, there was no choice but to achieve them practically. Shot early in January, there was only 3 weeks until Super Bowl airtime. This eliminated the ability to use time-consuming CGI. So Einstein and his Producer Michael Kanter sought out someone they knew who could make it happen: Rick Lazzarini and his creative team at The Character Shop. Working through the Christmas and New Year holidays, Rick and crew were able to manage the limited time available and create several complicated, amusing, and realistic animatronic effects.

“Ya Born Yesterday?” meant that we cut to a shot in a cubicle, where a laptop is perched on a car seat, and a pair of baby hands is typing furiously away, while sucking on a baby bottle. Annoyed at Trish’s implication, the hands stop typing, yank the bottle out of its mouth, and annoyedly slams it on the keyboard. “Really, Trish?”

This gag was brought to life by a pair of amazing animatronic hands, with an ingeniously built inner mechanism, and a realistic silicone skin covering. (Shades of Westworld!). These were puppeteered by Lazzarini himself, while fellow puppeteers manipulated the baby’s feet and bottle, separately. Everything was angled, set, and framed intentionally to crop out the puppeteers and rigs so no CGI removal was required in Post. THAT’S clever film-making. Pre-Planning intelligently so you Do it On The Day rather than Fixing it In Later in Post.

An additional minor (but still convincingly realistic) effect was also achieved by TCS when the woman who was raised by wolves pops up out of a pack of actual wolves, with a raw steak in her mouth. Sanitary and vegan, the steak she had (extremely rare!) was a beautiful silicone replica, uncanny in how much it resembles a real steak.

“Ya from another planet?” Trish asks, causing a disgruntled worker to turn in his chair, when suddenly his head opens into 4 petals, revealing a tiny, but very exasperated purple alien, who shakes his head and sighs disgustedly. This is not new for Trish. The alien was a brilliant creation, sitting in a scaled-down Dodge Van seat replica, beautifully rendered with old-school model work. Sitting 6 inches tall, the diminutive creature featured animatronic, radio-controlled movements of his head up/down, swivel left/right, a 2 axis jaw, and blinking. In addition, he (xe?) was equipped with a bladder for realistic breathing. Once again, this was a complicated inner mechanism with cleverly worked-out joints and servos, wiring and tubing, all hidden from the camera in what appeared to be a self-contained alien, with a marvelously rendered silicone skin.



The head itself was a nice marriage of Practical and CGI, with a head shell created and puppeteered by The Character Shop crew, and then the actor’s face cgi’ed on by the resourceful and dependable folks at The Mill Los Angeles.

The final scene didn't need Trish to set it up; because walking into frame, casually holding a cup of coffee, came guy everybody knows…the one with his head up his butt. This hilarious punchline to the ad was another smart combination of realistic anatomical prosthetics, puppetry and custom costume work by The Character Shop a live performer in the suit, and post-CGI work by The Mill. Several iterations were tried and refined in order to get the anatomy *just* right, for a believable visual representation of that dude that stuck it where the sun don't shine.


Client, Agency, and Director all agreed; our Animatronic Puppets and effects were a success! All in all, a challenging timetable once again proved no obstacle to the incredible Artists, Sculptors, Fabricators, Designers, Lab Techs, Builders, and Puppeteers at The Character Shop, who always find a way to bring a Director’s vision to life. On time, and on Budget!

Check out some of the video and behind the scenes photos that shows the incredible talent and work that goes into making a project like this from scratch!

Links to other articles about this spot:

Ad Age

Elite Daily 


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