October 23, 2019

What Do You Get When You Cross a Turtle With a Giraffe?

More great creature work from MPC as they create a hybrid ‘Turaffe’ for a Starburst campaign.

“Two things in one are just plain better.” That’s the conceit behind the Starburst campaign for their product Duos, a candy combining two different flavors. And what could be better for the launch than a new type of creature that was also a combination of two different things?

The spot from DDB Chicago, aptly titled “Two Thing Thing,” features creative direction from MPC’s Michael Gregory and a unique hybrid creature called a Turaffe, brought to life by MPC by combining a photo-real CG turtle with…you guessed it… a giraffe!

The original script envisioned a creature that lived in the great outdoors, but Gregory and team had another idea. “We really liked the idea of a ‘duo’ creature but suggested making it a family pet living inside a home,” he explains, “to add to the bizarreness, but to also make it more relatable.”

To create this new creature, which they named Patches, the team first had to address a number of questions:

How big will it be?
How will it move?
Will it behave more like a giraffe or a turtle?

“We pre-vis-ed Patches’ movements and the set to help design the shots and art direct the correct furniture and layout,” recalls Gregory. “On the day [of the shoot], we had a two-foot stuffed stand-in to help determine the lighting, depth of field, and blocking.”

Creature creation was led by Animation Director David Bryan and VFX Supervisor Boyo Frederix. The team had to alter the dimensions of both animals slightly as they didn’t quite fit together. In particular, the turtle shell didn’t rest properly on the back of the giraffe’s neck. So they explored different options that would make them fit together in a natural way – staying true to both animals so that they looked as realistic as possible.

“We had to think about the restrictions of the shell on the range of motion, so there was this element of physical animation to figure out,” says Bryan. “Key movements, such as emerging from the shell and walking, took a lot of research and exploration to create a photo-real performance that was believable to the audience. I think that much of it was down to personal experience as an animator to make the right decisions and go with what felt right.”

Also of note, Patches was the first creature to use a completely new fur system – a Houdini-modified tool designed by MPC for greater efficiency in creating large and unusual looking animals.

“This was a really fun campaign to work on every step of the way, from early concept to final shot-making,” concludes Gregory. “Each layer was very cool to design, but the last chapter working with Boyo, David, Rod and those wizards in the CG team, really took it home.”

A true collaboration between their LA, London and Bangalore studios, MPC handled the campaign from start to finish, including director’s treatment, concepting, pre-vis, directing, editing, CGI and color grade. Read more about it here.

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