Back in 2006 I noticed the delightfully idiosyncratic work of a South African artist and illustrator named Ree Treweek (images above, top).
In the time since, I have followed with fascination as Treweek and her partners Jannes Hendrikz and Marcus Smit, collectively known as The Blackheart Gang, produced a strikingly original and truly strange animation titled The Tale of How (above, 2nd down), which brought them to international attention, and leveraged that notice into a successful production company for animated commercial spots called Shy the Sun.
Shy the Sun produced a stunningly bizarre commercial called Sea Orchestra (above, 3rd down) for United Airlines (which was experimenting with exceptionally creative ad spots, like Jamie Caliri’s Dragon).
After that, I found a commercial not shown here in the U.S. that put their eccentric talents in service of selling Bakers Precious Biscuits (above, 4th down).
It was in the latter ad that I think they added to their techniques of combining hand drawings with computer coloring and compositing an additional animation style incorporating miniature models and sets. This approach has been very successful for them and they have utilized both approaches, as well as traditional CGI, in a series of terrific spots and promotions, some well known, others more obscure.
If you’ve ever wondered, as I did initially, who created the psychedelic cat food commercial, Friskies Adventureland (above, 5th down), it was Shy the Sun.
They applied their miniature set skills to ads for the South African subscription TV service Mnet in Ladybug and Firefly (above, 3rd from bottom). More traditional CGI seems to have been the choice for the darker ads for Electronic Arts’ game Alice: Madness Returns.
Treweek has been art director on most of the projects and co-director on some. She also contributed character design to the bizarre creatures seen at the end of Pete Candeland and Passion Pictures’ wild promo for Harmonix “The Beatles Rock Band” (above, 2nd from bottom).
I’m looking forward to whatever projects they take on, as their work continues to be imaginative and original.
Now, if only someone would give them a big pile of money to do a feature length animation…