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Framestore reinvents the Andrex puppy

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Andrex & JWT Entrust Framestore to Concept, Direct & Animate Bold New Puppy Route

Framestore reinvents the Andrex puppy
Andrex & JWT Entrust Framestore to Concept, Direct & Animate Bold New Puppy Route

Framestore has undertaken the almighty task of reinventing the world famous and much-loved Andrex puppy for JWT and Kimberly Clark. Framestore provided a 'One Stop' service by taking care of the entire production; from director's treatment through to location and studio shoot, edit and animation.

Andrex has been associated with the endearing Labrador puppy since 1972 and it was a bold decision to recreate the puppy's legendary cuteness in CG so as to provide more flexibility for character development and storytelling. So Framestore's main challenge was to recreate the puppy's 'aah factor' within a believable and empathetic digital double.

JWT decided to work directly with Framestore as both Production and Post Production company. Framestore was awarded the job on the strength of its character work and Oscar-winning feature VFX reel. Framestore Director and VFX Supervisor, Mike McGee, was chosen to direct the spot as he had already directed well-received live action and CG creature promos for the BBC in their Swimming Hippos and Ice Skating Penguins idents.

McGee's extensive experience as a VFX supervisor fed into the directing process and made for surprisingly smooth post production. The post process was further eased by ensuring both JWT and Andrex were fully involved in pre-production tests and in fully approving each developmental stage.

Framestore's end-to-end one stop process entailed developing a director's treatment to establish the dogs characters, actions, scales and environments; creating concept art to establish key poses that overcame the issue of anthropomorphising dog anatomy; drawing storyboards to confirm narrative layout; directing the three-day location and studio shoot and editing; as well as taking care of more traditional VFX company responsibilities such as animatic, pre-vis, CG animation and compositing.

Framestore Producer, Abby Orchard, "We found that acting as a one stop provider also helped with the schedule as it could be correctly balanced between concept, production and post production."

The main VFX challenges were getting the dogs to act in a more human way but using K9 anatomy, for example handling objects without opposable thumbs, walking upright on two legs while carrying flowers or sitting and typing at a laptop keyboard. Most crucially, these anatomy and personality issues had to be overcome in a way that retained the brand's heritage of puppy cuteness.

CG fur posed difficult technical challenges, especially considering the spot involves five different breeds, all with different types of fur. But Framestore  built upon existing assets and expertise to handle fur design, animation, rendering and compositing.

The production was streamlined by using Nuke, which is more commonly reserved for feature film pipelines. However, Nuke was deemed more appropriate for this project's vast volume of data, where CG renders would benefit from being fed straight into Nuke, rather than importing and exporting them in as separate passes. Not only did Nuke help improve time-efficiency, it also meant that all the different teams involved could see each element in context and so better examine continuity across shots. The  grade was crafted in telecine by Steffan Perry.

Mike McGee, said: "This was a huge opportunity to have input at the ground level. But not only was it a satisfying creative challenge, it gave us an opportunity to work closely and collaboratively with the Creative Team, Jess Oudot and Matt Leach at JWT which ensured we were always on the same page in terms of how the project was developing, making the process more streamlined and efficient."

Jon White, Marketing Director for Kimberly Clark Europe, comments: "As a market leader and innovator, we pride ourselves on keeping our brand fresh and relevant for our consumers without losing sight of the quality of our products or the care and playfulness that's at the heart of everything we stand for."

"We consistently invest in our brand to ensure we continue to strengthen its bond with consumers. We firmly believe that the Puppy's new image and our new communications platform, It's The Little Things, will reinforce our brand with both existing consumers as well as a whole new generation and therefore deliver positive effects for the category as a whole."

Guy Hayward, Chief Executive of JWT UK says: "The Andrex Puppy is one of the most recognised brand icons in the UK and it's amazing how much he means to Andrex's consumers. JWT created the brand mascot for Kimberly Clark in 1972 and after nearly 40 years we thought it was time to bring him into the 21st century with a new look and his very own Puppy World. We think we've really captured his heritage and the essence of the brand and are excited to see consumers' reactions."

Play spot http://framestore.com/#/Commercials%20London/AndrexPuppyworld,ItstheLittleThings
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Genres: Visual VFX

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Framestore, Tue, 07 Dec 2010 15:00:00 GMT