Creating Charismatic Forest Creatures

Category: Web Exclusives
Hinge Digital collaborates with BVK to deliver integrated ad campaign featuring original character designs.

Animation and visual effects studio Hinge Digital (www.hingedigital.com) recently teamed up with BVK to create a clever series of advertisements for Carrington College. The integrated campaign includes two animated and live-action broadcast spots, as well as three online outtakes, 24 print ads, plush toys and more, which all showcase original character designs by Hinge Digital’s talented team of artists.

“Carrington College Squirrel,” the first 30-second campaign promo, introduces new Carrington bird mascots, Goldie and Blue, and is now airing on TV, with a live-action spot to follow in September. Comedic outtakes from the project are also available to view online here: http://hingedigital.com/work/#carrington .

Under the direction of Hinge Digital’s Alex Tysowsky, a 30-person crew delivered multiple pieces of the campaign, from concept and storyboard to character design and modeling, animation, VFX, editing and more – all within less than three months. The team faced a number of complex animation challenges throughout, especially in making the characters stand out without dialog and adapting design elements to ensure they would work across all facets of the campaign.

“Truly unique, the first ad introduces Goldie and Blue for the first time without any dialog, so our animation really had to drive the story. The success of the entire campaign hinged on our ability to visually convey the story through our animation on this first spot,” said Tysowsky, director. “Adding to the challenge, we had to carefully design the characters to work graphically across multiple platforms: TV, twitter, pens, plush animals, billboards.”

In “Carrington College Squirrel,” an amiable squirrel atop a tree sees three other squirrels on a neighboring tree indulging in acorns – representative of the student demographic. Intent on joining them, he edges out to the end of the branch, but one look down below petrifies him, and he returns to the base of the tree defeated. Goldie and Blue, symbolizing Carrington career counselors, appear and encourage him to take a leap of faith. After confiding in Goldie and Blue, he musters the courage to leap across – joining his friends. Outtakes of the spot, which started airing at the end of August on Carrington’s website, offer an uncut, insider’s look behind the shoot.

“The creative process on this project ran smooth. BVK came up with the initial concept but gave us the freedom to design these characters and bring them to life in an interesting way that would translate across the campaign; it was pure magic,” said Hinge Digital VFX Supervisor Michael Kuehn. “When you run through dailies with a client and receive a genuine positive, passionate reaction to the characters you’ve worked so hard to create, that's a great feeling.”

BVK Art Director Ryan Smith shared, “Hinge Digital offers the right mix of creative talent, artistry and technology that this sort of campaign requires. They were there for us throughout the entire creative process and played an integral role in developing loveable, believable characters that carry this campaign.”  

Hinge Digital leveraged a variety of technology throughout the project, including proprietary plug-ins, Autodesk Maya for 3D animation, Joe Alter’s Shave and a Haircut, The Foundry’s Mari for 3D painting, The Foundry’s Nuke for compositing, Autodesk’s Mudbox and Pixologic’s ZBrush for modeling, Headus’ UVLayout, Mental Images’ Mental Ray and SquidNet Software’s SquidNet Network Render Manager for rendering, as well as Tweak’s Shotgun, Revolver, Tweak RV, and Rising Sun Research’s cineSync.


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