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HU frog commercial featured on local TV networks

Huntington, Ind.-Twenty students with 200 frogs invaded campus in October of 2008 to create a commercial highlighting Huntington University's digital media arts program.

The commercial ran on local television networks in the spring of 2009.

During the Animation II: Advanced Traditional Media class, Professor Steve Leeper invited Tom Gasic, a friend and colleague, to speak to the students about animation and specifically about his time working on a commercial for Sony's Bravia (R) high-definition TV. The Bravia (R) commercial features brightly-colored bunnies hopping around a city. The students in the class were so inspired by the Bravia (R) commercial that they wanted to create a similar project.

The idea to use frogs came about because the class had been working on the concepts of hops and skips and giving animation believable motion and weight.

"I don't think any of the students had any idea how much work this was going to be," Leeper said.

Frogs were pencil drawn, scanned to a computer program, perfected, printed out on anywhere from 10 to 15 sheets of 8 1/2 by 11-inch pieces of paper, cut out and spray-mounted onto foam core. In the end, 200 frogs in varying forms, colors and sizes-three to six feet-were ready to be released on campus.

Once the army of frogs was assembled, 15 to 30 students worked with three cameramen to complete four six-hour days of filming. From there, approximately 80 man-hours of post-production and editing went in to finishing "Frogs Invade."

Though this was a large and new project for the digital media arts program, Leeper pointed out that this was treated like a class project, and therefore, students independently chose the places to shoot and designed the shots.

"There is a tremendous amount of real-world process-and frustration-bound up in a project like this," Leeper said. "Taking such a large complex project from concept to completion over the course of five weeks was the closest we have had to a studio production experience since we started the digital media arts program."

Though the featured creature may change, Leeper thinks that this is a project students will want to tackle again and again.

"We are always looking for ways to get our animated projects beyond the walls of the classroom," Leeper said.

Seeing their project used as a TV commercial made all the hard work worth it.

"As tired of frogs as the students were by week four, every one of them stuck it out to the end to make sure their part served the overall production well," Leeper said. "I'm extremely proud of them!"