PepsiCo.’s charming holiday ad will melt your heart

Work November 29, 2022

To kick off the holiday season, our VFX artists led by Creative Director Graeme Turnbull and VFX Supervisor Eva Kuehlmann, collaborated with The Studio at PepsiCo, two-time Academy Award Winner Robert Stromberg and RSA Films to craft a magical spot highlighting the delicious range of PepsiCo products.

Our team brought to life the five snowpeople and crafted the exterior environment that this holiday heist takes place. The charming spot is graded by Head of Colour Los Angeles, Paul Yacono.

Set to Hall & Oates’ iconic and catchy “You Make My Dreams Come True”, the festive film follows a group of snow friends – Chip, Sleet, Ava, Slush and Flurry – as they celebrate the holiday season with their favorite PepsiCo snacks and beverages. However, retrieving the goods isn’t so simple. Chip must enter the cozy chalet and brave a pesky pooch, party-goers and toasty temperatures. As Chip makes his great escape with his haul in hand, he loses his carrot nose. Luckily, a Doritos chip fits perfectly where the carrot once sat.

“We created extensive previz in a mockup of the practical set to help work out which lenses, moves and angles could be captured. The art department built a 1:1 scale puppet of our lead character “Chip”. This approach allowed us to create accurate framing and timing for our clean plates as well as excellent lighting reference for our CG assets when they needed to be added. I think the most beneficial aspect of this reference layer was how it allowed our editor Natalie Wozniak to build an edit with the character acting out movements in each shot. This provided an excellent guide for cutting between shots and allowed us to view an edit that had our key character moments.

We used the time in our previz stage to do animation tests on how our character could move. We ended up with our own rulebook on how far we could push aspects of our characters' facial expressions and body movements.”
-Graeme Turnbull, Creative Director & VFX Supervisor
“This project came with quite a few moving parts and included close to 30 shots ranging from live-action (with one CG character to integrate), to full CG shots, including multiple characters in a winter forest.

Our hero, Chip, and his friends are the storytellers. Developing each and every one of them and expressing their personalities through their looks, accessories and animation was key.

Chip is the lovable rogue who sneaks into the house to steal all the goodies and faces a few challenges during his adventure. No matter the obstacle, his underlying charming and fun persona had to shine through from start to finish.

Lead Animator, Goran Ognjanovic, ensured that all snowfriends would show their own unique personality and stay in character throughout the spot. Numerous rounds of animation were necessary to carefully dial in a wide range of expressions and gestures - a chuckle, a slap on the back, anxious anticipation, determination, excitement, and plenty more…

For the shoot, the art department built an outstanding set. The CAD data of the house became our reference point for all CG scenes, establishing continuity in layout and scale. HDRI’s taken on a scene-to-scene basis during the shoot, as well as the practical puppet plates, gave us a good foundation for lighting in CG.

Finally, adding various snow FX throughout all shots helped to blend in CG and to give the piece the proper winter feel.

We are looking forward to seeing what Chip and his snowy friends might be up to next!
-Eva Kuehlmann, VFX Supervisor & 3D Lead

Whether you’re on the naughty or nice list this year, we want to collaborate with you! Get in touch with our teams via our contact page. Discover the full list of credits here.