Animated characters and mascots are proving themselves to be rocket fuel for brands and their advertising campaigns. At The Mill/MPC, we reckon we know a thing or two about creating CG characters that have made advertising history. From award-winning ‘Monty the Penguin’ for John Lewis to Arm & Hammer’s funky felines, our VFX teams are the leaders in animating memorable characters that help brands get noticed in a crowded media space.
In this Behind the Moving Image edition, we’re looking back to when we developed another furry feline ‘Roary’ for ING Australia’s ‘Do your Thing’ campaign launched earlier this year. ING approached The Mill/MPC to bring to life their iconic logo as a fully CG adult lion, a companion for their customers and a symbol of their brand. Our VFX team talk about how they did it….
Kiril Mirkov, VFX supervisor said: “The first and most important thing we had to consider was how would ING’s two-dimensional logo look like as a full-grown lion? After some research we managed to find a real-life reference of an adult, male lion that everyone was very happy with. We were then able to gather a lot of pictures and videos which helped us to analyse him and bring all his features to life.”
Finding a real, trained lion to capture these moments and details is pretty much impossible but also one that is able to show that range of emotions and interact with people led to only one conclusion: We had to create a state of the art, photo-real lion. Kiril added, “Every aspect of the creation of our lion ‘Roary’ had to be carefully studied. From the clumps on his fur and the shape of his mane to the colour variance of his nose and eyes. Real-life references were the key to ensure natural characteristics. It was very important to always stay true to the overall appearance of the real animal while still accommodating specific features to make a unique photo-real character.”
The main task while animating was to produce a characterful acting delivery that worked within the bounds of an animalistic performance. Studying reference footage helped make acting choices that reflected the motivations of a lion. However the challenge was to find a way to carefully strike a balance between natural, realistic behaviour and his relationship to the supporting characters in every scene without over-acting his performance, which was crucial to maintain realism.
To achieve this, we carefully dialed facial expressions and details where needed and supported that with a strong body language where Roary had to reflect confidence. When showing doubt and enjoyment, on the other hand, we shifted the focus towards the subtle facial features.
We created a rig framework that enabled them to produce any given pose and expression with a high degree of precision. Our fur dynamics system was completely re-written to ensure that his mane was reacting realistically in every scenario. On top of that, natural muscle movement, skin sliding and dynamic deformations were added to ensure the highest level of realism throughout the entire commercial.
Throughout the month our artists across the global studios share art and science insights and BTS footage behind The Mill/MPC’s most iconic photoreal and animated characters that appeal and connect across integrated brand campaigns. share exclusive art & science insights behind bringing these icons to life.
Stay tuned for the next one.