CHIHUAHUA - Figure & Shatter Effect.
One-15 inch tall, life-size dog.
Silicone rubber, whiskers, and glass eyes.
Our Chihuahua has been used for a stunt dog, sitting on the backseat of a speeding taxi, also for a shattering effect. Aside from a wagging tail, it has no movement, but can be rigged to move if needed. It is sculpted and painted to look like it has hair. A few punched whiskers and a small amount of hair punched in the ears help complete the illusion. We also used the same form for our TACO BELL shattering chihuahua effect. The movie is included here if you care to scroll down to view it.
WE KILLED THE TACO BELL CHIHUAHUA!!! We can't deny it. Literally! Though we can assure you that no real dogs came to any harm. This spot was never aired, and it was the last one made by CHIAT DAY and their edgy team of daredevil producers Chuck & Clay. Their work on the campaign was so good that when a poll was taken to find out the most popular latino figure was in California, guess who came in first place? Sadly, this was not received well, and TACO BELL quickly dropped the Chihuahua character and switched to another Agency who produced much more tame commercials from that day on. It was only fitting that we shattered the Chihuahua in the spot we created with Brent Thomas. It is a shame that they did not air this last shattering spot as a send off for the Chihuahua, much like JACK IN THE BOX literally blew up their Jack character on air in his final commercial of that era (only to have him return years later -and his very first return commercial showed Jack getting even with the JACK IN THE BOX corporate board of directors by blowing them up). Edgy and imaginative commercials entertain, reward, and blow the minds of viewers with their brave concepts- hopefully advertisers will not forget this. They become a part of our culture, while the tame campaigns are forgotten.
The big challenge of this shatter effect was our clients' request to have our Chihuahua crack/shatter completely first, then have all the pieces fall to the ground. Starting with eggshell thin castings, heavily pre-scored in small triangle patterns, we experimented with a lot of different approaches- a pyro shockwave from above, an air-ram shockwave from below, different types of wire pulls, a rake arm, and even one by one piece removal. Using primer cord, we were able to achieve the pyro without smoke, but the Pyro still gave off a flash that could not be removed. The air ram shockwave was promising, but dissipated too much before reaching and affecting the head enough.
Substituting sugar glass for the pre-scored castings was not able to increase the reach of the shockwave into our Chihuahua form. Wire pulls also could not achieve enough small pieces. A combination air ram shockwave and simultaneous downward wire pull was an improvement but unable to create small enough pieces. A rake arm pulled down from outside the piece tended to pop too many pieces outward, revealing the source of the shatter. The same with a rapid air cannon filled, green-screen balloon pop. The best approach turned out to be a combination of a few of these techniques. We cross-threaded fishing line back & forth through the pre-scored small triangle pattern cuts , weaving fishing line throughout the interior of the pre-scored bodies. A rake arm was then ripped downward from inside the dog, through the cross-threaded wires. This was pretty dramatic but stiil needed improvement- the head was still not coming apart enough.
The solution was found by shooting individual piece by piece pulls, one at a time, from the top down, and compositing these together with the wire-rake pull footage. Film was shot at high speed to thoroughly capture every detail in every step of these split-second performances. In-Site-Pix (www.insitepix.com), who we've worked together with so successfully in the past, did all the composite assembly work.
SHATTERING CHIHUAHUA - Credits
TACO BELL 'Shattered' commercial. Brent Thomas, director.
TACO BELL commercial. Rocky Morton, director.