August 23, 2021

Team Spotlight: Crafting Feu Vert’s Ramsés the Cat with Shiny Rajan

The award-winning artist at Technicolor Creative Studios’ MPC unfolds the story behind the creation of an iconic brand mascot.

Technicolor Creative Studios is home to some of the industry’s most talented artists and innovative thought leaders – always willing to share their insights and behind-the-scenes observations from across our global studios.

Shiny Rajan is a VES winning artist at Technicolor Creative Studios’ MPC. Her impressive portfolio of work includes many memorable character animations – where art plays with science – including O2’s brand mascot Bubl, JEEP’s cheeky songbird, Arm & Hammer’s cowboy cats, and even animated humans such as Xbox’s Daniel Kaluuya.

In a recent interview, Rajan talked about her work on one of MPC’s most iconic characters, Ramsés the cat, brand mascot for leading European automotive company Feu Vert. Rajan is based at MPC in the Bangalore studio, and you can follow the Technicolor Creative Studios team there on LinkedIn at Technicolor India, where you can also learn about #JobsoftheWeek and apply at The Focus.

Can you talk about the craft behind creating Ramsés – brand mascot for Feu Vert?

Ramsés the cat was developed from the basis of existing assets and reworked from rig to fur so that the identity of the mascot matched the existing brand identity, while bringing a fresh new look. The photoreal character was made extra realistic with particular attention given to the texture, fur, rendering, and of course, its animation.

What was the biggest challenge when creating Ramsés?

Being an animator, the very first challenge while animating with a lip sync is the language; Ramses is French, and I don’t speak French! To start with, we were given the English translation for his dialogs. I watched many French news channels to see how the mouth and lips move, the pronunciation and body movements. After intensive research, I was able to bring the character to look like a photorealistic animal speaking French as natural as possible.

What was the most important feature to Feu Vert?

Feu Vert was revamping its brand identity by launching a new mobility service. Ramsés has 15 years reputation being the brand mascot, but the character needed a modern fresh look in line with the adaptation of its activities. “At Feu Vert, there is no substitute for the expert…” is the slogan in support of the new branding. And so, our animation had to live up to the boldness and pride of the mascot Ramsés!

What sort of research and time is involved? How well do you have to understand the animal or human anatomy?

If you invest in research you will get great results. It’s an ongoing process and only stops when the project’s over and you jump on to the next. We are constantly learning every step of the way. With the immense CG being produced at MPC, understanding animal and human anatomy is the first thing to concentrate on to make any character believable and alive. As an animator, you need to be great at observing and acting.

How did you give the character a ‘human’ feel and create the emotional connection?

I picture myself as the character whilst animating them. As the characters come to life, I start adding the personality and realism, yet be creative and try to bring out the best acting performance in the characters through patience and understanding the rig and their restrictions.

How did you balance realism of the character with the potential of over expressiveness of a CG creature?

Animals are very expressive when you observe them. Being a little extreme and taking reference of realistic expressions really helps to shape the show. This is my way of keeping it real creatively.

Where do you see the future going for CG characters?

With a rich heritage and reputation in photoreal characters, MPC has created many animals, humans and robots over the years. For me, CG characters in the future will continue to grow, and may also replace live actors, or even bring back some great ones from the dead.

Read the full interview with Shiny Rajan at MPC.