When Leo Burnett needed a full-service production studio to launch a major new McDonald's campaign, they chose DUCK, who called on two of their top directing collectives, Screen Novelties and Kompost, to create the stylized, vivid fantasy spots.
DUCK pitched eight different directors, and the agency chose Screen Novelties and Kompost. "Eric Faber at Leo Burnett came to me and said they had two boards for a really unique McDonald's project and they wanted two completely different takes on each," noted DUCK EP Mark Medernach. "He chose DUCK because of the depth and variety of the artists on our roster. This has always been one of our major strengths - one that has allowed us to build a diverse and ever-expanding client base."
Bebe stars a little girl who imagines a world of kooky animal companions. Set in a child's playful version of a pastoral landscape of staggered rolling hills, the spot features a crafty, fabric look, with rich textures and a unique color palette. Screen Novelties constructed the sets, and fabricated the puppets with various densities of foam built over a wire skeleton and then covered in fabric.
Screen Novelties Directors Mark Caballero, Seamus Walsh and Chris Finnegan led the team that animated the commercial in stop-motion over a few weeks with digital SLR cameras on two stages. They shot most of the scenes in-camera, animating some cycles and elements on green screen to allow for timing flexibility in edit.
"We were excited when we first saw the boards for this animated Happy Meal spot," stated Screen Novelties Director Mark Caballero. "It's always a blast to design and animate animals and monsters, so we knew this would be fun. Fortunately, the gang at Leo Burnett was really supportive of our stylized approach."
Spaceman Stu is set in an illustrated universe of a child's vivid imagination; a stylized and slightly disproportionate world in which fantastical stars hover around the characters and gravity works selectively. The spot stars a character that hovers impossibly over the globe and inside of a McDonald's, smiling as he enjoys his Happy Meal. His large head and helmet, short arms, and odd body proportions created a physical makeup that rendered certain actions impossible and presented difficulties in making the character look comfortable. Kompost used creative problem solving - like cropping in very tight whenever the character's hands interacted with the helmet - to circumvent the awkward movements. Kompost drew the character's mouth in cell animation and later projected onto the 3D geometry, a process that took extensive back- and-forth internal coordination.
To inject the setting with a handmade feel, Kompost crafted the textures and cut the stars out of cardboard before digitizing. In order to create the project in 3D without losing the 2D look, the crew created the original style frame in 2D and then rebuilt the environment and the characters in 3D, running them through various 2D pipelines to recapture the original feel.
To meet the project's abbreviated timeframe and incredible technical demands, Kompost assembled a core team of eight of the most talented and experienced artists from around the globe. "Our crew has once again proven their track record of creating artistically unique and visually stunning work," said Kompost AD and Director Oliver Conrad. "The atmosphere as we worked this piece could only be described as a creative think tank - we collaborated to solve new problems as they arose and immediately evaluated and put into practice new ideas and concepts. Most important is all the passion that went into the project. As in all Kompost projects, everyone on the team was devoted to doing their best to create a truly outstanding piece."
Spot Title(s): Bebe, Spaceman Stu
Air Date: September 2010
Agency: Leo Burnett
CCO: Susan Credle
ECD: John Montgomery
CD: Keith Hughes
Agency Producer: Eric Faber
Prod Company: DUCK
Director(s): Screen Novelties (Mark Caballero, Seamus Walsh, Chris Finnegan)
DP: Ralph Kaechele
Executive Producer: Mark Medernach
Production Manager: Terri Watanabe
Assistant Camera and Lighting: Carl Helder
Animation: Kelly Mazurowski, Musa Brooker, Max Winston
Character Design: Mark Caballero, Seamus Walsh
Set Design:Chris Finnegan
Puppet Fabrication: Lisa Davis, Margaret Meyer, Christopher Rabilwongse, Max Winston
Set Fabrication: Brian Capati, David Waddle, Alexandra Rougeau, Paula Lauterbach
Art PA: Brad Schaffer
Compositing: Brian Kokoszka, Kelly Mazurowski
SPACEMAN STU SPOT
Production Company: DUCK
AD & Director: Oliver Conrad of Kompost
Executive Producer: Gian Klainguti of Kompost, Mark Medernach
Production Manager: Terri Watanabe
CG Supervisor: Kenneth Polonski
Lighting and Rendering: Kenneth Polonski
Lead Animator: Christian Semczuk
Layout and Additional Animator: Laszlo Nyikos
Lead Compositor: Olio Vergine
Nuke Compositor: David Francois
Liquid Simulations: Christopher Soyer
Particles and VFX: Ernst Schwarz
Rigger & Modeller: Boris Ignjatovic
Additional Modeling: Adam Juhasz