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Sling Baby

Narbeh Tatoussian
Colorist, Blacklist Productions

“Sling Baby” Is A Winner at Super Bowl XLVI

Football fan or not, you would be hard pressed to find anyone that didn’t tune into Super Bowl XLVI. Reportedly 111.3 million Americans made 2012’s record breaking Super Bowl the most watched US television broadcast ever, for the love of the game and the commercials.

The anticipation of multi million dollar promotional spots rivals many viewers’ excitement around watching the season’s best NFL teams battle it out for the Championship, and Super Bowl commercials have become a huge part of the American pastime. Because companies are willing to drop a fortune on mere 15 second slots to plug their brands, the goal is to make your spot as impactful as possible. Doritos took this concept to a new level with their Crash the Super Bowl contest, offering a million dollar cash prize to the person that created the top 30 second spot featuring their flavored tortilla chips.

Out of more than 6,000 submissions, Kevin Willson directed and co wrote the winning “Sling Baby” commercial, which was ranked as the top rated spot by USA Today’s Facebook Ad Meter. It also received #1 on Neilsen’s “Most Liked” and “Most Remembered,” out of all Super Bowl ads. Featuring toddler Jonah Folk literally slinging through the air to snatch a Doritos bag from a boy taunting him in a tree house, the project involved a team of nearly 40 people. Many volunteered to bring the low budget dream to life, including Jonah’s father, Justin Folk, who handled the visual effects.

Burbank’s Blacklist Productions was a part of the process from beginning to end, providing the rented Red camera “Sling Baby” was shot on, and handling color grading and finishing in house with DaVinci Resolve. The one stop shop, which has essentially grown their entire business around the color correction system they purchased last year, considered Resolve to be the instrumental tool in making “Sling Baby” look like a million bucks.

Colorist Narbeh Tatoussian explained, “We were working on a quick turnaround with a barely there budget, but the vision was there. That was enough for me to take the spot to the next level and achieve the look Kevin was going for.”

The goal was to capture the brightness of childhood, and make red, Doritos’ signature color, really pop. Narbeh used a lot of keying and parallel windows to keep the flesh tones of grandma, baby and bully neutral, and relied on the same tools to blow other features, like the green grass and red Doritos bag, out. The tracking feature also came in handy, and was “amazing” for working on the flight of the baby to the treehouse, and his victorious return to his grandma’s side with the Doritos bag.

More than a decade of experience wasn’t the only thing that gave Narbeh an advantage. Because “Sling Baby” was shot on Red, he could access the raw R3D files directly through Resolve, without wasting any time or compromising quality through converting. He continued, “I had immediate access to the footage and could use nodes and curves to play with exposure and tint right away.”

As Blacklist Productions continues to grow, so does their client list. Because of their mixture of rental and service offerings, they keep busy with all sorts of projects, from Hollywood feature films to small independent projects. Having something for every type of customer essentially means always having something to work on, and a high quality and affordable color correction solution like Resolve enables them to offer professional services at a reasonable price. This has supported their recent move to a larger facility in Hollywood, complete with three DI theaters where they are already completing work on new films and music videos.

Tims Johnson, owner of Blacklist Productions, concluded, “We use DaVinci Resolve for everything and love it.  We transcode, color dailies, and finish music videos, commercials and feature films in Resolve every day. In conjunction with raw camera formats, Resolve makes it possible for us to give an expensive looking finish to low budget projects, and help virtually anyone bring a million dollar idea to life.”