Framestore Crafts CG Character for McD’s Festive Campaign

In the opening scenes of the festive McDonald’s commercial, viewers are greeted with Christmas warmth and an unforgettable character named Iggy who was perfectly animated by the artists of Framestore to capture a roller coaster of emotions in a place that pulls to the heart.

As a long-time partner with Leo Burnett and McDonald’s, this isn’t the first time Framestore has collaborated on such a high-profile deal for McDonald’s, or their highly anticipated Christmas spots, having created the busy Christmas commercial of McDonald’s visual effects “#ReindeerReady”. For McDonald’s Festive 2021 – Imaginary Iggy, Framestore worked with acclaimed writer-director duo Bert & Bertie and creative agency Leo Burnett.

In this campaign, we meet a young girl who befriends Iggy, a big-hearted imaginary friend, but as she becomes a teenager, she wraps up the heartbroken friend. Years later, a child playing nearby prompts the now-young woman to reunite with Iggy, creating a touching finale that resonates all the more around Christmas time. The atmosphere is rounded off by R&B star Mabel’s magnificent performance on the poignant song, Time After Time.

The spot had the full Framestores art department behind it and in order to lock down the concept, the Framestore team had to make sure Iggy could live in the real world and connect with the cast in a way that would instantly translate. by an audience. Everyone collaborated on this, including the agency, the client, and the director, and an Iggy bible was built to dig into the details of the character, making sure he always stays true to his nature.

“We had to create something that looked physical and not cartoonish, but at the same time found ways in the animation to bring out the emotion and communicate well with the girl at different ages.” said Jules Janaud, VFX supervisor.

Once the concept was locked in, the crew could then start previewing the scenes before filming. They designed a life-size Iggy puppet to use on set, allowing the actors to interact with the character and begin to integrate Iggy into the world being created.

“Since this was an indoor shoot, there was a lot of lighting and dynamic lighting, but we were determined to insert our furry creature into the environment seamlessly, so we compiled so many data as possible from the shoot using lidar scanning, ”said Christian Baker, nuclear composer. “We had to make Iggy’s fur soft and fluffy without collapsing with the actors around it – it was hard to match that.”

Textures matching Iggy were sprinkled throughout the scenes, including the fluffy socks in the opening sequence and the Christmas stocking seen hung up later. Encourage the viewer to play with the idea that this Iggy was made up of objects the little girl would have grown up with in the house, further spreading the idea that Iggy was an imaginary friend.

Shot with anamorphic lenses, which gave the entire film a cinematic feel, the Framestore combines dressed scenes with Christmas items, creating snow on the final shot to create a wintry vibe. “It was shot in the summer, so we had to replace the green summer exteriors with winter scenes using digital matte paints. »Says Christian Baker.

After filming was completed, the crew began to animate the character by defining his body language in each scene.

The way the character behaves and moves around the shots was of the utmost importance to the team; they wanted audiences to question Iggy’s makeup and bring out a sense of mystery and wonder while rekindling childhood memories.

“The challenge was to create a platform that performed well enough to move but that didn’t stretch too much like a cartoon character. He had to have a lot of physique, and that brought a lot of demanding technical work into the grooming process and the area of ​​effects on the creatures, ”said Jules Janaud. “The character looks very naive and straightforward but on the other hand, you want to feel like it could almost be someone in a costume, but you’re not too sure.”

“One of the interesting things about the technicality of this work is that it’s a very simple character but it contains a lot of very technical things,” said Jules Janaud. “His fur is quite long and fluffy like mohair, his socks and horns are hand-knitted, his scales are felt and he even has a garland tail. All of these materials had to be meticulously designed and cared for using our own custom hair system generated in Houdini and all of these features had to be individually simulated to make Iggy physically believable. ”

“Being able to collaborate on this McDonald’s commercial was an absolute joy and watching these early concepts develop until you see the final character alive in the movie was really special,” said Helen Hughes, publicity manager. “It was a privilege to be able to use our expertise as a team to create a character that I think people will fall in love with.”

Finally, Framestore color master Steffan Perry made an elegant note that showcases the festive warmth and simply elevates the sentimental nature of the film.

90 seconds is an incredibly short time to tell this kind of story. Ultimately, the announcement is a reminder to never lose the childhood spirit or the Christmas magic, and the team did an impeccable job. The ad aired on November 12 across the UK.

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