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Electronic Sheep?

Jul 2009
Rebecca C. Jernigan, News Editor,

Sheep are a common sight in advertising, hawking everything from mattresses and sleep aids to bottled drinks. Now, however, the fluffy creatures are selling high-tech television sets. A viral video titled “Extreme Sheep LED Art,” with nearly 8 million views on YouTube in less than two months, has managed to link sheep with LEDs to promote the new LED TVs available from Samsung of Seoul, South Korea.

Many of the jackets contained lights in multiple colors.

With a group of shepherds and their dogs working together, the sheep were herded into shapes – such as a giant, black-faced sheep – during the day. As the sun set, jackets covered with LED lights in various color combinations were strapped to the animals’ backs. In full darkness, the now-illuminated flock was formed into new shapes, including a game of pong and a fireworks display.

Black and white sheep form the image of a giant black-faced sheep.

Viral marketing company The Viral Factory of Santa Monica, Calif., has claimed the video as its work in an interview with The New York Times. The company has admitted that some computer editing and manipulation were involved in some sections, mainly using time-lapse video to speed up the formation of images and some animation to smooth the transitions, but said that the sheep were truly herded by the dogs and their handlers to create the various shapes seen.

Top, a rousing game of sheep pong becomes even more entertaining with the addition of LED jackets. (Center row left) One of the participants straps an LED jacket to a sheep. (Center row right) In the video’s finale, the LEDs are turned off and on to create a moving fireworks display. (Bottom left) The videographer directs the shepherds from high above. (Bottom center) Sheep dogs, following the commands of the shepherds, herd the flock into formations both prior to and after the animals were fitted with their LED jackets. (Bottom right) Black and white sheep are herded together to form the image of a giant black-faced sheep. Images courtesy of The Viral Factory.

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