Balsam Hill Featured In Response Magazine

Balsam-CoupleThis past holiday season, ShadowBox Pictures was pleased to produce a series of DRTV commercials for Balsam Hill, who designs ultra realistic artificial Christmas Trees and decorations. We teamed up with New York-based THOR Associates to design these commercials focusing on Direct Response and strong Branding. Response Magazine recently featured Thomas Harman, the CEO and founder of Balsam Brands, and his work with us on this DRTV campaign.

See the full Response Magazine article below:
Thomas Harman’s Balsam Brands got its start in the artificial Christmas tree space in 2006. This season, the online retailer unwraps the gift of DRTV.

We started this series of DRTV advertising working closely with THOR Associates to produce
“Attention Getting”, “High End” commercial concepts. Balsam Hill was looking for a DRTV campaign that wasn’t just your run of the mill DRTV spot. They wanted only the highest quality DRTV to match the highest quality artificial trees they sell. One of the main reasons Balsam Hill and THOR Assocaiates approached ShadowBox to produce this campaign was our proven success and ability to design high-end Direct Response campaigns.

Balsam-BranchesOur producer, Jeff Young, worked with THOR Associates to design scripts that would reach Balsam Hill’s target demographic, while still making Balsam Hill approachable to everyone. We worked closely with Balsam Hill to ensure that these direct response commercials would communicate Balsam’s culture and brand.

ShadowBox filmed the spots in California as well as locally in PA. We used the new Sony F-55 camera for filming. The F-55 is one of the best camera’s in the world. And we made sure to capture all the gorgeous details of the Balsam Hill trees and decorations. We then did the post production in our local facility ensuring the final commercials were beautifully crafted and detailed to Balsam Hills needs.Balsam-LivingRoom

ShadowBox Pictures Brings Bed Bugs to Life!


We recently finished up a series of shots with CG generated bed bugs for a commercial featuring “Bed Bug Adios”. A spray that removes bed bugs. Training real bed bugs for a commercial has a number of complications associated with it. We decided early on that bringing real bed bugs to the shoot was not going to be a very practical option. With our advances in computer generated animation we opted to make the Bed Bugs entirely on the computer! Designing something like this has a number of steps involved.

First we build a bed bug from the ground up. This involves designing a complicated 3-Dimensional wireframe of the bed bug.


Our artists then add color and texture to the bugs to give them a natural, realistic appearance.
Then we add a rough skeleton inside the bugs. We can then move the skeleton bones around similar to posing a manikin. This allows us to animate the bed bugs giving them the appearance of being alive.

Finally, we track our CG bed bugs onto footage we shoot, or we make digital backgrounds (such as cloth and skin). You can see in the image to the side how we tracked bed bugs and bite marks onto an arm. We finish up by compositing the animated bed bugs with our footage. We adjust the lighting and shading to each shot to give a very realistic appearance.

ShadowBox Pictures brought bed bugs to life for this commercial. And we can bring your ideas to life too! Picture the possibilities.

We’re Proud!


We at ShadowBox Pictures are very proud of our work.  Nothing gets us more motivated than seeing the fruits of our labor receive a significant amount of recognition.  It really gets us in the spirit of creating more successful campaigns!

ShadowBox Pictures produced a 15 second drive to web commercial for M&Ms. This commercial features their MyMMs products. Where you can customize M&M’s with photos and messages. We were very excited to be working on this project.  The web commercial was very effective!  The spot drove over 2.2 MILLION hits in just over 10 days after it was posted to the web. How amazing is that?

Watch the spot below.

See what ShadowBox Pictures can do for you by contacting us today!

A Good MOA Goes a Long Way: Promoting Innovation and Scientific Leadership With Dynamic Animation

STILL from a recent MOA animation by ShadowBox Pictures.


If you attend one of the major medical technology or pharmaceutical conventions, you’ve seen how scientific leadership and innovative products are critical for companies to present to the marketplace. More and more research companies jump into these shows with elaborate exhibits – and nothing tells the story of their vibrant research development pipeline than an effective MOA video presentation.

‘MOA’ is an acronym for ‘mechanism of action’. In the pharmaceutical sense, mechanism of action indicates the specific biochemical interaction a drug substance produces when it’s administered to the body.  Explaining a chemical compound’s pathway into the body is often better left to medical journals. But more and more companies have taken advantage of advancements in 3-D animation to tell their MOA story in a way that’s engaging, informative, and authoritative… all very desirable impressions leave with prospective customers.

When it comes to marketing innovative science, the MOA animation is ideal for visualizing the biochemical interaction of a chemical compound or drug.

There are a few things to keep in mind when constructing your MOA animation.  First and foremost, prioritize achieving a balance of scientific and creative elements in the program.  Scientific accuracy is essential, but too much detail takes too much time to tell your story. You can lose the audience before you start. Whether in trade-show kiosks, or on the web, your viewing audience is likely to only stay focused for 2-4 minutes. You need to accept the limitations and opportunities of telling your story in that short time.

Assembling a tight script is the first step in creating a great MOA animation.  A good script will create the buzz you are looking for and hone in on the important details of your research pathway or product.  A good script will make sure your message is focused, clear, and that your presentation doesn’t run too long. A good script should be developed with the insight and input of medical affairs or a medical director to make sure all scientific information is credible, and properly represents the company’s perspective.

In our experience, medical or scientific writers can be integral to jump-starting this process, but their valuable experience in writing for print and the web doesn’t translate directly to an effective video presentation. Quite simply, visualizing the story requires a different structure. In an effective MOA animation, the same story must be interpreted so the audience is taken on a journey through the pathway, step-by-step, building to the end result.

Once the story has been reviewed and approved, it’s timMOA-StoryBoarde to visualize it with a storyboard. The storyboard’s main purpose is to guide development and approval of the visual elements that will populate the animated story. They must be accurate, and consistent with the company’s medical/scientific perspective. They will also be developed artistically in a style that meets our goals and fit within budget.

First seen, is the “cast of characters” – the cellular or chemical components that we will witness in action. Second, is the “stage” – the various environments within which the characters will be placed. The number of characters and environments, as well as the artistic style must all be reviewed for their impact on development timeline and the budget. Allowing time for writers, medical illustrators, scientists and animators to work together enhances the depth of your animated presentation. The end result is a thoroughly reviewed and approved script that is “locked”, meaning story content and visuals have been approved by all stakeholders (including medical affairs, legal and regulatory) and the more costly process of developing animation can commence.

Now, the 3-D team is fully engaged in developing elements based on the approved storyboard. Via a website, the review team will get to see a 360-degree animated model of each character and confirm that each model meets or enhances what was approved in the storyboard. Environments will appear first as still frames, since the animation steps required to create an immersive environment will take weeks or months to realize.

Once these individual elements are approved, it’s time to bring them together by creating “motion-path” animations. Each motion-path is a low-resolution run-through of a key scene in the storyboard. In the key motion-paths, the director and animator will be working out how the characters interact to create a mechanism of action. They will match that action to our scripted narration, using a rough “scratch-track” usually read by one of the creative team members.

Once key motion paths are approved, scenes are assembled together in a new animated version. This is a low-resolution run-through of the entire script, known as “first-flight”, so-named because the director and animators are introducing camera movement within the animated space. It is as if we are flying through each scene and into the next. Ideally, the “first flight” is where all of the repeated review and approvals up-front pay off. Everyone’s expectations are aligned and errors are minimal.

Once the final motion paths are approved (2nd flight & 3rd flight) – the animation team will disappear for a while to add the visual magic to the environments. The director and editing team will be assembling the final audio, music and sound effects. The production team will be working closely with your exhibit partners around the world to make sure the video elements are segmented and output to proper formats and specifications for your display technologies.

After this stage of development, the review team will be presented with a high-definition render of the entire MOA for final approval. Since all have approved the low-resolution version, this should be nothing more than a cursory review and sign-off. Nevertheless, time should be allowed for appropriate review, discussion and tweaks if needed. Once approved, all distribution HD elements will be formatted for integration into various displays.

ShadowBox Pictures is fully staffed and equipped to create a dynamic MOA/Pathway animation for your company to market its scientific innovation and leadership. Not only do we have a top-rated animation team, but our writing and production team is dedicated to working with you to create the perfect MOA animation that will be a creative and marketing asset for years to come.  Contact us today to get things started!

BASICS: Why You Should Always Storyboard

So you’ve decided to make a commercial for your product.  Great!  As a production company, we can testify that pre-production is the most valuable aspect of planning for a successful commercial.  Make time for it. Budget for it. And use it to challenge your assumptions on paper – rather than on the set or in the edit room. Storyboards are an essential part of pre-production. Here’s a brief overview to show you why.

Continue reading

An All New

We’ve all changed our websites from year to year, trying to create an engaging online representation of Who we are and what we do.  This year, we think we’re on our way. matches our creative style with our broad experience in creative, production, animation and post.

Continue reading