Less Swag, More Wag!

A donation was made to the Oregon Humane Society in your honor!
Your continued support is crucial to Cardboard Castle's success, and this gift conveys our appreciation.

There are many animals waiting for their forever homes at the Oregon Humane Society (OHS). This historic animal welfare organization is a model of effectiveness. In fact, pets are transported to OHS from all over the country to get a second chance at adoption. OHS will place over 11,000 pets in loving homes this year - and we want you to be a part of that.

Concept: Alicia Johnson
Character Design/Animation/Voices: Griffen Snow
Copywriter: Jim Prescott


Thanks to Design Week Portland, we had the opportunity to participate in our first event! Each year, agencies, studios, museums, and businesses host open houses and events to showcase the incredible designers and artists who continue to draw the world’s eye to Portland. Cardboard Castle’s team pulled together to create an amazing animated video and sound installation inspired by the mysteries of the sea. Our illuminated windows transformed into a virtual aquarium filled with particle-spurting jellyfish, ghostly whale sightings, pixelated fish, and exotic sea plants.

The electric visual display drew in crowds of people of all ages. Groups of children gathered out front to chase the brightly colored jellyfish as they swam across the windows, while others came inside to say hello and speak with the artists. Upon entering our studio, the visual experience was combined with an ambient audio element with subtle sounds of the sea incorporated throughout.

To accomplish great design is to make it accessible and meaningful, and we feel we accomplished both. We feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to share our work with the people in our community. The turnout was overwhelming, and the crowd was extremely gracious and fun. Thank you to everyone who showed up for our open house!! Keep your eyes open for future projections. We are already working on a Halloween treat for your visual enjoyment!



There was supposed to be a rabbit.

He was there from the very beginning, from the initial kernel of an idea for this spot. A sprightly little polygon jackrabbit blinking into existence from some netherworld and scampering at breakneck speed around our player as he goes in for his epic lunar dunk.  We had some killer low-poly designs for the little guy, which we based loosely off the character Frith from the animated version of Richard Adams’s classic novel Watership Down. But as often happens in tight productions schedules, sometimes there have to be sacrifices, and we had to sacrifice our long-eared creation to eternal rest in the confines of our hard drives:


Let’s back up a bit. Mutt Industries, a creative agency with offices literally around the corner from Cardboard Castle, came to us with a very ambitious project: put a basketball player in Nike Lunarlon Hyperdunk shoes on the moon. We love ambition, and with a quick turnaround time (2 weeks from shoot to hand-off of the final edit) we knew this would be a serious challenge as well.

Because this spot was set on the moon (precluding us from shooting on location, as our rocket ships are all in the shop at the moment) we knew we’d have to come up with a way to place our hero in a convincing lunar environment and have his movements realistically line up with those of the scenery around him. To accomplish this feat, we decided to shoot on a blue chroma key-painted environment marked with hundreds of tracking points.


On the day of the shoot, the set quickly became saturated with cameras, lights, props, equipment, and the sizable crew, so it was necessary to set up our tracking points the day before. Things got underway pretty quickly, with Director of Photography Kevin Fletcher taking care of business behind the lens of the incredible Red Epic while Cooper and Mutt’s Steve Luker and Adam Long put our talent, Omari, through all manner of physical abuse. Sprinting across the stage, bounding off trampolines, making slam dunks…take after take after take. All this while Omari was suffering from a bout of food poisoning. Yet he got through the 15-hour shoot without a complaint. That’s professionalism, folks.


Finally, at 10:30 p.m., the last take was in the can and the exhausted crew stumbled home. That’s when the real work started for us.


Cardboard Castle then took the reins on the monumental charge of transforming the footage of a guy running around on a stark blue sound stage into a space-traveling super-athlete making a 50-foot dunk on the moon. No easy task, but we knew the process would be fun, so we were up to the challenge. We worked nights, weekends, and any other spare hours we could scrounge up to get this spot looking as good as we could possibly make it, and we like to think the results speak for themselves.

So while our sweet geometric rabbit never made it past the conceptualization stage, we couldn’t be happier with the finished spot. A big thank you to Mutt for bringing us on to this project, and thanks to our hard-working team for putting in the extra hours to dial in every last detail in every last frame.

Great work, everyone!


Client: Nike
Director: Mutt Industries

Creative Director & VFX Supervisor: Cooper Johnson
Executive Producer: Rick Hassen
Tracking Supervisor/Animator: Michael Jones
Animator: Dylan Leeds
Animator: Blain Klitzke
Modeler/Rigger: Sean Kealey
Character Animator: Kevin Phelps
Tracking Crew: Pete Schreinet
Tracking Crew: Jim Prescott
Tracking Crew: Adam Lindsley

Line Producer: Gwyn Fletcher
Production Manager: Heather Elliott
Director of Photography: Kevin Fletcher
1st Assistant Camera: Jerry Turner
Data Manager: Sean Rawls
Gaffer: Ian Jennings
BB Electric: Matt May
Electric: Charlie Norton
Key Grip: Greg Smith
BB Grip: Don Stier
Grip: Dylan Zwicker
Art Director: Ryan Smith
Leadman: Jonny Fenix
Wardrobe Stylist: Lis Bothwell
Hair/Makeup: Maria Blandino
VTR: James Walton
Craft Service: Emily Pomar
Production Assistant: Matt Bowman

Blog written by: Adam Lindsley


Just when we thought we’d met our extraterrestrial shoe quota for 2012, our friends down the street at Mutt Industries came to us with another exciting project for Nike. This time, we were asked to create a video showcasing what would be the most expensive sneaker of all-time: the new LeBron X.

The initial concept dealt with the themes of time and pressure (two things we’re quite familiar with here at the Castle!). These elements would be represented on and within the reflective surfaces of an enormous black rock, a crystalline hunk of obsidian floating above a stark desert world. We came up with a number of different concepts for this imaginary levitating stone, some with good, salvageable ideas and some destined to never again see the light of day.


A few early rock/diamond concepts.

In the end, the decision was made to go with a multi-faceted rock that somewhat resembled an inverted geode and would thereafter be known simply as “the diamond.” And inside of this rotating and transforming diamond would reside the LeBron X sneaker, of which we would see only glimpses until finally, shirking its craggy prison, the shoe breaks free, much to the delight of footgear enthusiasts everywhere.


As the creative was being finalized, we constructed a wireframe animatic to gauge the overall pace and see the shots in action. Our guys worked hard every day to add textures, adjust lighting, throw in dust and specularity, and fine-tune every frame until it was stunning…and a little menacing! Check out the before-and-after shots below to get a sense of how much work went into each shot:

Working with Mutt’s creative team, the tone of the piece—and the diamond in particular—grew darker and more disturbed as production went on. What was originally developed as a graceful, awe-inspiring gemstone gradually progressed into an aggressive, almost sinister artifact of alien origin, hurling shards of this mysterious metallic mineral and shuddering with repressed fury. Our tastes tend to lean toward the darker side, so we were all for taking the diamond a little further into the metaphorical (and physical) shadows.

The finished product? Striking, otherworldly, and, yes, maybe a little bit creepy. That’s what we think, anyway. But don't take our word for it, go check it out here!