Directed by Dave Meyer, Apple’s iPod TV ads continue the theme of its popular print campaign, which features silhouettes dancing to music from their iPods, with effects created by Alex Brodie.

Apple has extended the theme of the eye-catching print campaign for its iPod portable music player to a series of TV ads. Conceived by TBWA\Chiat\Day, the three 30-second spots echo the concept seen in numerous billboard and magazine ads, where silhouettes of people dance to music from their iPods.

In an ad titled Rock, silhouetted people dance and play air guitar to Jet’s anthem Are You Going to be My Girl? Others feature hip hop and dance tracks. Accompanying graphics deliver the simple message “iPod. Mac or PC,” and end with the Apple logo.

Created by the same team that were reponsible for the print campaign – art director Susan Alinsangan and Tom Kraemer – the TV ads were directed by Dave Meyers of @radical.media. Company 3 artist Alex Brodie worked on the visual effects, and Stefan Sonnenfeld handled colour correction. Cosmo Street’s Chris Davis and Nomad’s Glenn Martin worked as editors.

Heart and soul

“The biggest challenge was figuring out how to make silhouettes look good,” explains Meyers. “If the dancers crossed their hands in front of their bodies, it wouldn’t look good. At the same time, we were doing three styles of dance and we wanted to capture the essence of each one. The soul of the commercial was in letting dancers do what dancers do.”

A graduate of London’s Ravensbourne College of Design, with a background in fine art and design, Alex Brodie performed several tests to determine how best to obtain clean silhouettes. Finally, he and Meyers settled on an approach where the dancers were shot against a bluescreen while holding iPods. The wires were then painstakingly painted into each frame in post.

“The client wanted the wires to have a specific look and thickness, so I drew them in frame by frame,” Brodie explains. “That allowed me to give them a smooth movement that would have been impossible to achieve with real wires.”

Brodie applied colour and texture to the iPod units held by each silhouette. “We wanted the iPod to stand out so I pulled colour and texture off the face plate from the live action and applied it to the silhouette,” he explains. “That approach didn’t work for the back of the unit, so I painted it white. The iPods therefore have a different treatment, depending on which way they’re facing in the frame.”

Similarly, Brodie added accents to some of the dancers by applying textures from bits of jewellery or clothing worn by them. “We wanted to restore a studded bracelet worn by one of the guys in the hip hop spot,” he recalls, “so I created a grad that matched the range of tones we were keying into it and to achieve a cylindrical form. It’s a very precise look.”

While simple in concept, the project required a substantial amount of post work, with the team producing three versions (15, 30, and 45 seconds) of each spot. “The concept is so simple that it’s very powerful,” says Meyers. “It was executed in a very trusting and collaborative environment – it was as though we were all in the same arts and crafts class. It was fun.”