The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Center for Visual Communication team?s Ford commercial wins air time

As the green movement continues to grow in popularity, especially among the younger crowd, it’s not surprising that the team behind the 2008 Ford Focus PZEV wanted to grab the attention of organic-obsessed college students.

And what better way to do that than with student produced commercials aimed at capturing the imagination of their peers while catapulting them to the fast lane of art design.

The Southern California Ford Dealers’ 2008 Ford Focus College Film Program offered college students the chance to produce 15 and 30 second commercials to coincide with the launch of the new Focus. In return, Ford offered four winning teams airtime in the Southern California area starting the week of September 8.

‘ CSUN would receive a 2008 Ford Focus and $2,500 scholarship regardless of the competition’s outcome.

‘ Chapman University, USC, Cal State Long Beach, and the Art Center College of Design, all secured television recognition. CSUN’s entry by six students from the Center for Visual Communication, VisCom, was among the winners. ‘

The team envisioned a futuristic colorless dystopia inhabited solely by men wearing gas masks who are suddenly invaded by an attractive woman with green paint in hand. A Jackson Pollack-like painting ensues until a silhouetted vehicle appears amidst the masses of green.

‘It was one of our concepts. We decided as a whole group to push that concept further,’ said team member and recent CSUN graduate Tara Tucker.

VisCom’s pitch statement spoke of challenging the status quo in a world of sameness. The visual dominance of the color green in the piece served as a visual metaphor for the earth-friendly movement.’ ‘

And Ford seems to want a piece of this Prius-friendly market.

‘ ‘Ford is reaching out to us for a reason. It realizes there’s something going on in schools, a fresh, unrestrained school of thought,’ said Chris ONeill, concept and art director of the project, in a media release before the competition.

Tucker and ONeill, as well as CSUN students and alumni Leslie Africa, Chris Landon, Mike Rogers, and Sean Ruge produced ‘The Green Revolution’ project. It was one of six entries submitted by CSUN, which was the only university to hand the project over to their art students rather than the perhaps more expected film department.

‘It’s very conceptual and cinematic,’ said Tucker, who was involved with the project from start to finish. ‘We thought maybe they wouldn’t want it but we went with our hearts.’
The success of the project is evidence that they made the right decision.

While the 30-second commercial looks as though it easily could have cost a half-million dollars to produce, the students’ creativity and tech savvy computer imaging combined to produce the commercial on a frugal budget.

Shot in the back lot of CSUN’s Art Design Center, the commercial shows no signs of being anywhere near the campus, or even of this earth for that matter. The stark plain wall and paint were all digitally created. The gas mask-wearing drones are really only one drone. Rogers was digitally reproduced to create the startlingly lonesome imagery of the segment.

And the model-like beauty that introduces color and a partially zero-emission vehicle to the formerly gray world is none other than team member Tucker, who has acted in the past.

‘It was freezing,’ said Tucker.

Shot entirely on an overcast Saturday, the commercial is a product of chroma-key technology, more commonly known as a green and blue screen, said Africa.
‘Everything was shot on green screen,’ said Tucker.

But the daylong shooting schedule belies the true amount of work this production entailed. From start to finish, the commercial took a few months to produce.

‘It was a post-production nightmare,’ said Africa, referring to the countless days of graphics devotion. ‘A demanding, grueling, work-intensive time.’

In charge of post-production, Africa had little time to do anything but eat, sleep, and work on the project.

‘I would wake up, work on the project, eat, work on the project, sleep, work on the project,’ said Africa, who, along with ONeill, had a hand in all six CSUN entries. Four of those commercials made it to the finals.

‘Leslie put the magic in,’ said Tucker of Africa’s post-production prowess.

The students took a month long hiatus from real world activities in order to turn out a stellar product based on an imaginary plane. Their efforts turned out to be worth it when ‘The Green Revolution’ project was picked as one of the final four winning a coveted spot on air.

‘All of our hard work paid off,’ said Africa.’

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