Need to deliver an animated ad campaign lightning fast? Just make it in Unity

Find out how a creative agency used Unity to land an ad campaign for Nike and produce four heart-pumping video spots featuring animated, video game-style versions of top athletes in just one month.

The artists at Nashville-based creative agency IV Studios aren’t just advertising pros; they got game, too. That’s how they were able to land the newest four-spot Nike sneaker drop ad campaign in April – and wrap it in May – using Unity.

Zachary Dixon is Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director of IV Studio, a US-based animation studio in Nashville, Tennessee.

He and Samuel Cowden cofounded IV in 2012, with the creative business covering both video production and animation. (And a little bit of game development, too.) They soon realized that animation was where they wanted to focus as a studio, and since then, they’ve had the opportunity to work with tons of amazing clients like Reddit, Amazon, Netflix, Bad Robot, the Cleveland Browns – and now Nike.

We caught up with Zac following the Annecy Festival of animation, where he was Unity’s guest panelist in our online session, Join the Real-time Animation Generation with Unity. Zac had a lot to say about using Unity for a video campaign his studio, along with the brand’s ad agency, produced for Nike’s recent sneaker launch.

Take a minute to watch the making of the Nike avatar ads, all made with Unity.

Game to try new tools

Zac’s studio does all different kinds of animations, with a lot of experience in frame-by-frame animation and motion graphics design-driven animation, all the way to 3D characters, high-end CG work.

“When a client comes to us, we’re able to look at a job, look at the problem that they’re trying to solve. We look at the message they’re trying to communicate and pick the right style, or combine multiple styles, to really suit the brief.”

A couple years back, the studio made their first video game in Unity and learned everything about how to use it on Unity Learn. “And from there we just started to really like the platform – really, really enjoy it.”

In the world of traditional animation, it can take an hour to render a single frame; video game engines do it at 60 frames per second – or faster. “It’s a whole new way of thinking about rendering an image. We saw the visual power that was possible.”

As the studio started doing more 3D work, they thought, “what would it look like if we made Unity one of the tools in our tool bag for working on client work and any of our 3D projects?”

With so many different departments – from layout to lighting to compositing to effects – Zac credits Unity with bringing them all together technologically, on a single platform. “For me as a director/compositor, that’s amazing, because it just gives me all these different tools that I can bring together at any time, work with at any time, and change at any time.”

Go big

A digital marketing agency working with Nike invited IV Studio to pitch for the company’s springtime ad campaign for its new sneakers. The agency’s brief boiled down to, essentially, “We want to put these four athletes in a video game.” The IV team said, “We’ve made

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