The call came on Wednesday afternoon from Gwynn Adik at ACME Filmworks. The band Rage Against the Machine had started an online campaign to garner the #1 single on the charts over the Christmas holiday in the UK. For the past four years, the #1 slot went to the current winner of Simon Cowell's UK show talent show, "X-Factor". With the help of the Facebook page Rage Against X-Factor , the band was successful in knocking off X-Factor winner Joe McElderry's cover of Miley Cyrus' single "The Climb" and gain the number one position much to the dismay of Mr. Cowell.
As thanks to all their fans, RATM was scheduled to play a free victory show at London’s Finsbury Park on June 6th and it was to begin with an animated Simon Cowell introducing the band.
Harvey Lewis of DC3 Global who was producing this segment for RATM was thrilled when he heard we would take the gig and he couldn't have been nicer or more understanding about the constraining schedule. Harvey told us he loved our work on SNL and had the utmost confidence in our abilities. He was sure whatever we gave him would be great and was completely understanding of the limitations. So nice to work with a guy like that.
We would have until Friday to get them the cartoon and if there were any notes, to implement them and upload to London for Saturday morning. Two days? A minute and a half of animation? Inside we were panicking but we said yes, of course. After all, our record to date was a two and a half minute cartoon for SNL in four days (see below for "Are You Hot?" video). One character (Simon Cowell) addressing the audience shouldn't be TOO bad.
The idea for us was to get the look and mannerisms right. If you capture the essence of the character you're halfway there. Luckily (or sadly), I have watched my share of American Idol and was fairly an aficionado of Simon Cowell and his various attitudes. A few well placed key head poses, arm mannerisms, eye rolls and the piece started taking shape but that was only the first 30 seconds. At 5:30 am Friday morning, my strength was waning and I decided it would be best to take a nap and get working later that morning rather than try to work straight through. After a roughly uncomfortable two and a half hour sleep on the couch I restarted at eight am panicked with the dread that I may not get done on time. Somehow, by noon, all the pieces were falling in place, Robert had created a great BG of Simon's "vault" loaded with bags of money and bars of gold.
At 1:30, we sent a test to Harvey who would show it to the band and we had to wait for notes. More panic. It was half done, the end was all rough. There was no lipsync. Would they understand what they were looking at? What if they didn't like it? What if there were tons of notes and corrections? How would we finish on time? Finally, the word came back. NO CORRECTIONS. As a matter of fact the band called it "brilliant" and the guys "totally crushed" on it. (I think that's good!) So off to finish the piece and by 6:00 pm miraculously it was done. Lipsync and all. We had a few glitches with the output to quicktime, but with the aid of editor George Khair, the track was slid and fell perfectly in place and it was uploaded off to London.
As seen in the YouTube clip above, shot by a fan, the cartoon got a great reaction from the crowd and apparently the band blew the crowd away. Glad we could be a part of it. We will post the original spot another time.
Here's the aforementioned SNL cartoon that held our personal record of four days.