NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There's just something about the NewsChannel 5 classic Christmas commercial. Maybe it's the music or the artistry, but for most Middle Tennesseans, it's the memories. "I don’t know, it hits your heartstrings. It makes you kind of go, 'ahh' and go into the room," said Jennifer Rice, the daughter of the artist, Charlie DePriest.
DePriest has now retired from NewsChannel 5, but in 1974, he drew and painted the beloved cartoon at home with his family. "Hundreds and hundreds of frames I guess we drew and like I said, we, my daughter helped with the painting. My wife had a hand in it," DePriest told us in an interview two decades ago.
As a thank you to his family, DePriest featured a few winks in their honor, like featuring Rice's cat named Puff. "She’s in there and winks her eye and then my Raggedy Ann is in there too — which she’s still here," said Rice.
But as timeless as the commercial still feels, time and new technology haven't been friendly to the old spot. That is — until Terrence Boyce got involved.
"A lot of pixelation, it’s blurry, you can’t see any details," said Boyce, a graphics designer at NewsChannel 5.
To digitize the classic commercial, Boyce retraced on an iPad, every line Charlie originally drew. "It’s a bit like using tracing paper over the top of a photograph. I’m making outlines and I’m going back and adding in colors," explained Boyce.
The transformation is stunning.
But pretty quickly, Terrence realized by making it high definition, there was a lot of dead area on the sides of the screen. So he borrowed an idea from Charlie. "How about I follow tradition and I’ll put in some elements of my own life, my own child? I have a son, he’s 7 years old. His name is Fox, so there’s a fox," said Boyce.
There are other subtle changes too, but at its core, this is still DePriest's masterpiece, reborn for the digital age. "It was really important to me that the feeling of the piece didn’t get lost," said Boyce.
So that many more generations can think to themselves — there's just something about that commercial.
Both the original and 4K versions of the holiday spot will run throughout the Christmas season on NewsChannel 5. Boyce showed the 4K version of the spot to DePriest before it aired the first time. DePriest tells us — he loves it.