Shilo has recently completed work on Rap, a new promo for Cartoon Network that features 11-year-old rapper Elijah. Resulting from a continuation of a collaboration between the teams at Shilo and Cartoon Network, the project came about after both reviewed close to 100 audition videos before discovering the new talent, who had written his own rap just for the occasion.
"Nobody else had such great performance prowess," says Andre Stringer, Creative Director, Shilo. "Directing isn’t just about giving people orders; it’s as much about finding the right people and letting them do their thing. Once everybody saw Elijah, we knew we had our star. Cartoon Network was really excited about Elijah and provided him the forum to be in the spotlight."
With a distinctive combination of traditional cel, 2D, and 3D animation, together with hand-drawn imagery and live-action, Shilo stayed true to their own brand of what the studio calls "design-infused storytelling". The use of mixed media is a Shilo hallmark, and Rap typifies the eclectic skills that are making Shilo an increasingly popular go-to director.
To a series of drumbeats, Elijah emerges from the shadows with a gradually dawning gray light and wisps of animation around his head. His rap begins by telling viewers of his morning "writing rhymes" over breakfast, and the impromptu appearance of Cartoon Network characters including Billy and Mandy, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy, and the Kids Next Door. Throughout the promo, Elijah’s rap is accentuated by animated typography displaying key words and by imaginative animations augmenting the environment and the rapper himself. The resulting effect provides a picture of Elijah’s imagination and Cartoon Network’s schedule.
"We worked closely with Cartoon Network to animate some of their characters in our original way," says Evan Dennis, ACD, who led the Shilo creative team on the spot. "We were able to make them materialize within Elijah’s world and interact with his imagination. We worked hard to give the typography and animation a truly fresh look and spin a new level of style into the piece. The promo is shot, directed, and produced with a sophisticated tone. Kids are smart. They know what is hip."
Like so much of Shilo’s work, Rap was a holistic attempt at capturing an appropriate emotional guideline. The team took cues from Elijah’s performance, deriving all of the animation from his movements and delivery. Through it all, Darren Weiner’s original beat helps drive the tempo of the piece, resulting in a great alignment of all the elements.