Framestore Crafts CG Character for McD’s Festive Campaign

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

As a longtime partner of Leo Burnett and McDonald’s, this isn’t the first time Framestore has collaborated on such a high-profile offering for McDonald’s, or their highly anticipated Christmas spots, after creating the busy Christmas ad. of McDonald’s “#ReindeerReady” VFX. For McDonald’s Festive 2021 – Imaginary Iggy, Framestore worked with acclaimed writing and directing duo, Bert & Bertie, and creative agency Leo Burnett.

In this campaign, we meet a young girl who befriends Iggy, a kind-hearted imaginary friend, but as she grows into 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 moving finale that resonates all the more at Christmas time. Rounding out the atmosphere is R&B star Mabel’s stunning delivery of the poignant song, Time After Time.


The spot had the full Framestores art department behind it and in order to lock in the concept, the Framestore team needed to make sure Iggy could live in the real world and connect with the actors in a way that would instantly translate for 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, ensuring that he always stayed true to his nature. .


“We had to create something that looked physical and not cartoonish, but at the same time find 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 team could then start previewing the scenes before filming. They designed a life-size puppet of Iggy to use on set, allowing the actors to interact with the character and begin integrating Iggy into the world being created.


“As this was an indoor shoot, there was a lot of lighting and dynamic lighting, but we were determined to sit our furry creature in the environment seamlessly, so we compiled as many data as possible from the shoot using Lidar scanning,” said Nuke Composer Christian Baker. “We had to make Iggy’s fur soft and fluffy without her falling apart with the actors around her – it was hard to match.”



Textures matching Iggy were sprinkled throughout the scenes, including the fluffy socks in the opening sequence and the Christmas stocking seen later. Encouraging the viewer to play with the idea that Iggy was made up of things the little girl grew up with in the house, further reinforcing the idea that Iggy was an imaginary friend.


Shot with anamorphic lenses, which gave the whole film a cinematic feel, Framestore crews further dressed the scenes with Christmas items, creating snow at the end to create a wintry feel. “It was shot in the summer, so we had to replace the green summer exteriors with winter scenes using digital matte paints.” said Christian Baker.


Once filming was complete, the team began animating the character defining her body language in each scene.


How the character plays and moves in shots was of utmost importance to the team; they wanted audiences to wonder what Iggy was made of and bring out a sense of mystery and wonder while rekindling childhood memories.


“The challenge was to create a rig that performed well enough to thrill but didn’t stretch too much like a cartoon character. creature effects area,” Jules Janaud said. “The character looks very naive and simple, but on the other hand, you want to feel like it could almost be someone in a costume, but you don’t 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 there’s a lot of very technical stuff in it,” Jules Janaud said. “His fur is quite long and fluffy like mohair, his socks and horns are hand knit, his scales are felt and he even has a garland tail. All of these materials had to be meticulously crafted and cured using our own custom hairstyle system generated at Houdini and all of these characteristics had to be individually simulated to make Iggy physically believable.”


“To be able to partner with this McDonald’s commercial was an absolute joy and to watch those early concepts develop through to seeing the final character alive in film was truly special,” said Helen Hughes, head of publicity. “It was a privilege to be able to draw on our expertise as a team to create a character that I think people will fall in love with.”


Finally, Framestore’s color master, Steffan Perry, made an elegant note that brings out the festive warmth and simply reinforces 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 spirit of childhood or the magic of Christmas, and the team did an impeccable job. The advert aired on November 12 across the UK.

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