San Diego Zoo


San Diego Zoo 'Africa Rocks'


Recent, Animation

At Scholar we fell in love with the idea of creating rock'n San Diego Zoo spots from the moment we saw the initial brief from M&C Saatchi LA. Waves of nostalgia were flowing through the studio as we started to consume video references of retro music videos, MTV logo ID’s and Liquid Television animations. We worked with the agency's amazing team to push the musical influence of each habitat, giving them their own throwback treatment that added to the excitement of viewing the spots back to back. We also love getting our hands dirty in just about every creative medium, so we have a special place in our hearts for mixed media montages.
Each of the habitats had a hero, as well as several supporting plants and animals that we would follow through each narrative. However, we had free reign to get as stylized as we wished with designing the look of the characters and their environments. Keeping these things in mind, we focused our attention on giving the animals natural actions that would drive the story through the spectacular settings. Allowing a penguin to flap his flippers in a lighting storm, a psychedelic lemur to hop across a liquid forest, and of course, a yellow baboon to crowd surf. 

  • Production Company: Scholar
  • Directors: William Campbell and Will Johnson
    Executive Producer: Jo Arghiris
  • Head of Production: Rachel Kaminek
    Art Director: Michael Tavarez
  • Producer: Nikki Maniolas

  • Designers: Hana Eunjin Yean, JP Rooney, Macauley Johnson, Andy Lyon, Brandon Smith, Cam Floyd, Hanna No, James Levy, Kelly Jung, Paul Kim
  • 2D Animators: Chris Finn, Macauley Johnson, Andy Lyon, Danni Fisher-Shin, Henry Pak, Jeffrey “Jip” Jeong, Yoojin Seol
  • AE Compositor: Ramzi Hogan
  • Cel Animators: Abby Magno, Andy Lyon, Laura Yilmaz, Sean Buckelew
  • 3D Animators: Jamie Sawyer, Sarah Wolfe
  • 3D Generalists: Chris Finn, Tim Hayward, Jacques Clement, Jessica Ramirez, Mike Cahill
    3D Rigger: Tim Hayward
    Nuke Compositor: Chris Brown, Matt Lavoy
  • Client: San Diego Zoo

  • Agency: M&C Saatchi LA
  • Executive Creative Director: Maria Smith
  • Associate Creative Director/AD: Ron Tapia
  • Associate Creative Director/CW: Ben Lay
  • CW/AD: Stephen Reidmiller
    Director of Content Production: Dennis Di Salvo
  • Group Account Director: Mike Wilton
  • Account Director: Makeia Carrier
  • Mix Company: Margarita Mix
  • Music Company: Yessian

“Opting to make each of the spots in unique styles meant we had to create six different worlds that could accurately portray the nostalgic adventure we were aiming for."

The Campaign

For each of the new habitats in the Africa Rocks exhibit, we poured a musical style and a rock and roll aesthetic over the visuals. Each of the :15s below will immerse you in a genre and then some. From the crowd-surfing baboon to our claymation dwarf crocodile to an acid trip full of lemurs—make sure to check out the individual habitats:

Our Process

There were innumerable design questions to answer for the Africa Rocks campaign. The initial agency design deck combined with our pitch styleframes succeeded in defining each design style and most of the pitch frames remained relatively untouched into delivery. Although these original frames defined the look, the project still needed nearly every angle to be fully imagined before entering animation. Between ourselves and the agency, we continued to push the look, getting weirder and weirder, and going as far as making a design frame for nearly every second of one habitat. Another great opportunity to flex our creative muscle came from the task of creating over 30 different San Diego Zoo and Africa Rocks 90's-style logo designs for the campaign. In the end, we had established a wonderful style guide that was vital towards moving into animation. The styleframes we had created called for a wide array of animation techniques including cel animation, digital 2D animation, 3D animation, and any combination of these. To work more efficiently, we animated some of the more complicated character shots in 3D first. We committed ourselves to being as true to the different mediums as possible, which included designing around a surface of water for our claymation shots.

Original Storyboards

A New Take on a Classic...