London - The Black Grouse, the latest addition to The Famous Grouse whisky family, provided AMV BBDO and Hibbert Ralph Animation the opportunity to create a darker version of the red grouse character. The result is a 20-second animated commercial that has more in common with a Tim Burton movie than the festive spots normally associated with The Famous Grouse brand.
HRA director Jerry Hibbert was to create an animated grouse with a deeper mystery and a smoother, cooler character than the usual red grouse. The result is a photorealistic black grouse in a dark graphic woodland that's lit only by lightening. The result contrasts starkly with the red grouse's minimalist white environments.
Jerry's second challenge was to create continuity between the old photoreal campaigns and this new graphical ad. This issue was resolved by integrating photorealism and graphic elements. For example, the bird was generated in 3D using previous red grouse models for the new black grouse's foundations. But the new model's feather system was adapted: its 4000 feathers were made with actual geometry, each holding a hi-res scan of a real black grouse feather and mapped onto the geometry.
3D was also used to build the bird's environment which was lit and rendered to give a silhouette appearance. Lighting had to be cheated in order to create the look of a photoreal bird in a silhouetted world. Certain details had to be visible: the white feathers of The Black Grouse's tail, the blue sheen and slight detailing of his feathering, and his face, including the red wattle. To make that much visible without looking wrong for the environment was a big challenge. It works because the bird moves in and out of the light while the lightning hits him just long enough to create a reveal.
HRA director, Jerry Hibbert, says: "We've always loved working on The Famous Grouse campaigns but it was good to veer away from the usual template. Previously, the ads have all been about the red grouse's witty and intelligent performances, so character animation was key. But in 'StormyNight' the concept is conveyed more by the bird's environment, not his performance. Hence, our highly stylized approach."
Project: Black Grouse Stormy Night
Client: Highland Distilleries
Air Date: 1st December 2008
Agency: AMV BBDO
Creatives: Alan Foster and Brett James
Agency Producer: Paul Goodwin
Production Company: HRA
Producer: Charlotte Loynes
Director: Jerry Hibbert
Director of Photography: N/A
Editor: Steve Hughes
Sound Design: Jungle
Music/Composer: Julian Ronnie
Software: Maya, Mental Ray, After Effects