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Benson & Hedges CG animated commercial - 1987

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Benson & Hedges CG animated commercial - 1987

Postby Charles » Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:51 pm

Nearly 25 years ago, Benson & Hedges, the cigarette company, aired a couple of very impressive commercials for the day that still hold up in our age.

In 1987 as it is currently, cigarette commercials were not allowed to be broadcast in the US. These two one aired in Malaysia.

Produced by Omnibus / Abel Animation, check out the state of the art CGI at a time when the emerging technology was still in its infancy.

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Re: Benson & Hedges CG animated commercial - 1987

Postby Charles » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:35 am

I've been doing some research into Omnibus / Abel, the company that produced the benson & Hedges commercial above.

Turns out they were a real pioneer in moving CG animation forward in the 1980s during the post Tron period.

A bit of their history can be found here:

http://dave.zfx.com/omnibus.html

I discovered a computer animated commercial they did for Hawaiian Punch around 1987, the same year as the B & H ad.

As the description of the video states...

If the pop culture of the entire 1980s -- the music, the visuals, the fashions, the hair -- could all be distilled into just a minute and a half, this is the closest you'll find. Music is by Mark Mothersbaugh (of DEVO), who later admitted to embedding a subliminal message: "Sugar is bad for you."

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Re: Benson & Hedges CG animated commercial - 1987

Postby Dolphin78 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:06 am

If I remember this right, Able's CGI development group spawned the first commercial package, Wavefront. Wavefront, TDI and Alias were eventually bought by SGI a decade or so later and gave birth to Maya. You can still see a good bit of each software package in Maya.

In those days the processors were running at about 20 megahertz! An 8 proc SGI Onyx was a couple of million and the yearly maintenance contract was over a quarter million.

A 768 megabyte hard drive was $12,500 and it took over a minute to save a single NTSC video frame.

Ah! The "good old days!"

Robert Able and co. came up with a lot of foundation of tools we now take for granted and paved the way for a good bit of the field of computer animation. That was very serious stuff in 1987! Just seeing a postage stamp sized test render of a single frame might take 5 to 10 minutes (or in that case, much more).
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Re: Benson & Hedges CG animated commercial - 1987

Postby Charles » Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:18 am

This is turning out to be an educational experience concerning the development of CG animation in the 1980s.

Omnibus and Robert Abel Associates merged sometime inthe decade. Before they joined forces, here's each group's respective demo reels.



Robert Abel & Associates from 1984 (Sound muted on last few samples due to copyright issues...




Omnibus from 1985..




And an even older demo reel from Robert Abel & Associates dating to 1981. Again, sound muted because of copyright issues but, but you get the idea. This includes the opening credits for Disney's notoriously bad movie "The Black Hole".




Compared to what they were doing later in the decade, it's apparent that even in the infancy of this technology, big leaps were being made at the time.
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Re: Benson & Hedges CG animated commercial - 1987

Postby Dolphin78 » Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:50 pm

What is so easy to do today in a few minutes, took a big team of programmers and artisans weeks to do then.

On exception that I can think of was Larry Malone's modeler written for Tron (1)that ultimately became the Symbolics modeler that in turn became one of my first big toys. However, as primitive as the early Able work looks today, that "Tron spawned" modeler still had some very useful features that don't exist in Maya today. At the time, the lads at Symbolics tried to make up for lack of raw machine speed with an array of powerful tools.
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