Collaborating with creator/director Clay Weiner to animate his character-driven tales about being that magical, miserable time of life known as Puberty, Hornet and Weiner have created 10 spots featuring a cast of 11 pre and pubescent characters. The various scenarios, which will transport you (willing or unwilling) back to the hellish days of middle school angst, began airing in the US today.

The Puberty Web site and viral games, were created in conjunction with WDDG in NYC, and will launch simultaneously with the TV spots and the mobile episodes. Beyond being a brand campaign for MTV, Puberty will be MTV’s first ever foray for original content produced for the mobile community.

“I loved life until the sixth grade -- I had great teachers, good classes, I was wholly unaware of how uncool I was,” remembers Weiner, who spent every day he could (and still managed to keep his day job) at Hornet.

“Then you get to middle school, and nobody cares about you, or they care just enough to tell you what a loser you are. These characters are reflections of that lingering, junior-high loser in all of us.”

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Rather than tell a straight story about real-life 12-year-olds, Weiner took it to a whole new level and invented and designed students in shapes and sizes you’ve never seen before: Puke, Fart, Doo-Doo, Zit, Booty, Boner, Whiz, Pubes, Lil’ Nips, Belch and Booger – each coming with his or her own life story and insecurities.
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Weiner’s highly developed characters and back stories left Hornet with the challenge of giving his concept a visual universe and bringing the characters to life. Together Weiner and Hornet aimed for a look that fell somewhere between Claymation and said Weiner, “those vinyl toys that every 30yr-old-going-on-12yr old seems to be fetishizing.”
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Clay’s initial designs had a compelling simplicity Hornet didn’t want to lose when creating them as 3D characters; rather the company all wanted to build on them. From an animation standpoint, Hornet intentionally went after an equally simple, quirky and lo-fi approach in an effort to compliment the writing and help move these fast stories along. The CG team devoted a lot of thought to creating a style which doesn’t scream overdone CG animation.
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Says Weiner: “I came to Hornet with a really clear vision and set of character designs for each of the cast, but with Hornet’s team of talented modelers, riggers, animators and lighters, I was able to turn those 2D drawings into 3D characters. This is just the foundation for what I hope will be an ongoing and wonderful relationship.”
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<b>A warm feeling</b>
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The characters are sometimes amorphous, sometimes shocking, but always charming and colourful. Fart is an amoeba-like cloud of orange and amber with a set of inquisitive eyes peering out from the centre. Boner is simply a pair of athletic shorts with legs, a mouth in the crotch crease, and a set of vigilant eyes worrying that “something” might “arise” at any moment. Booger –- the academic –- is a greenish, yellowish blob with nerd glasses and a sorry patch of hair.
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Another major challenge, though perhaps a less obvious one, was taking characters with names like Fart and Doo-Doo and endowing them with appearances that were stomachable, despite their gross-out attributes. 
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“We wanted to make it less about the fact that Doo-Doo’s a poop,” Weiner emphasized. “That’s icing on the cake. And we wanted to make Whiz (who looks like a urinal) someone you like, not just a porcelain thing people pee in.”
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<b>Truth in humour</b>
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“<i>Puberty</i>, as painful as it was, proves in hindsight to be a pretty apt metaphor for life. But the cruel truth is that you never get over it. No matter how old you get you still get pooped on (Doo-doo), you always wish you were more mature than you are (Pubes), you always think you have a big butt (Booty), and they’ll always laugh at you for sticking out of a crowd (Boner). As bad as <i>Puberty</i> is, adulthood is worse.”
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“Another aspect of <i>Puberty</i> is the <i>Send Your Friend A Fart</i> Web viral, which is basically FART surrounded by a lot of gas-producing foodstuffs that you can put in his mouth then send to your friend via email,” says Weiner. 
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“Because if you want to keep a friendship strong, it’s important, every now and again to take sometime and fart in their face.”
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