^ When asked by Untitled and Director Glenn Martin to create fire-breathing seagulls to burn the Santa Monica pier.
The Slim Jim spot was conceived by Venables Bell out of San Francisco. Our story begins with a man enjoying a Slim Jim Dare gazing out over the ocean, when, suddenly, he drops the Slim Jim to the beach below. Several seagulls descend on the food. They digest and then breathe fire.
The seagulls begin to fly around setting the area ablaze. Volleyball nets are torched, beach umbrellas are incinerated and a young boy’s kite drops as ash. Eventually the entire pier is on fire and people scatter for cover. The young man who drops the Slim Jim backs away cautiously, as to say, ‘Did anyone see me drop that Slim Jim?’
Kilt Studios was tasked with making sure the fire looked like it had real-world properties. The seagulls in the scene also were an issue since they had to be shot on a stage. In addition, the seagulls were guided to particular actions if it did not fit to their normal routine. Dealing with animals in productions always adds a level of complexity. In some cases, the Kilt team tracked different heads to bodies and vice versa in order to generate the desired effects.
The fire was created in 3D and the Kilt team developed simulations that mimicked reality. Wind resistance, volume and other factors were manipulated to emulate what would happen if seagulls could really breathe fire. The resulting imagery integrates nicely into the concept without overwhelming the storyline and allowing the humor to really shine. Next time you’re at the beach, watch out for humans or other creatures snacking on Slim Jims! You can’t say we didn’t warn you!
Working with seagulls on-set was unpredictable and at times downright funny. Though that aspect was tricky, it was memorable indeed!

Andy Mac, David Sarbell, Jon Balcome, Rick Fuentaelba, Patrick Sullivan
Veneables Bell
Slim Jim
Color, CG Smoke, CG Fire, matte painting, compositing

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