We kicked off the 19th Annual AICP Show with a grand performance of wonders! Intended to entertain the audience awaiting the screening, our opening sponsor reel included a dramatic performing clown whale, choreographed fighting sea horses, elegant jellyfish, and a mysterious creature known only as Octocolossus.

Our open would go on to win AdFed Gold and Silver Pin awards for best self-promotion branded content. The Gold Pin went to Gasket for the stunning visuals, and the Silver Pin went to BWN Music for their fantastic original music score.

Storyboards & Color Script

Storyboards were vital to our process. We planned to shoot live action plates, animate characters within a composited world, and break our performance up into four sponsor levels. Initially the number of sponsors was unknown, so we planned options for how, where and when sponsors would be introduced.

By consciously using colors during our creation of the color script, we created dramatic and memorable visuals that connected with viewer’s emotions. The reel opens with calming pastels, becomes more vivid during the climax with bright greens and fiery oranges, then revisits the original calm colors in the end. 

Prop & Character Design

We wanted the posters and props to look weathered and rustic with a twist of modern flavor to support the sponsor logos. We unearthed plenty research on vintage posters, gramophones, typefaces, and other bizarre sea animals.

The Victorian ruffed clown whale was our foundation character for the sponsor reel storyline, and even the setting. We always pictured him swimming through a vividly colored garden, preforming various tricks. Once we began to flesh his purpose and place in the story, that would steer us towards an art and performance piece to show the versatility of our skills. 

The seahorses, inspired by synchronized swimming teams and circus acrobats, became more like carousel horses during the storyboarding phase. The characters began to take on their own life and personality as we outfitted them with costumes: a proud African Zulu fighter, a brave Civil War Union soldier, and a regal knight in shining armor fighting a defensive, angry dragon.


We sought to elevate the show’s profile and celebrate Minnesota’s talented agency and production community through the branding. Throughout our campaign, our designs maintain a fresh and nearly weightless feeling, and our use of white space helps bring attention to the fantastical performers as if they were famous actors in a Broadway show.

Behind the Scenes

Your stage is only about three feet when shooting on a macro set up: Insects buzzing around the camera become the size of 747s, and the wind gives off a frightening gale force. Timing, planning, and accuracy become crucial skills. To better integrate props and models into the environment, we projected reflections and lighting from HDR images captured with a mirror ball. Camera rigs and crew were removed in post.

We also took time to gather photos for research, too: we waded through gardens, trudged through tall pithy weeds, and marveled at beautiful carousel horses to get costume and character inspiration.