MPC Crafts Unexpected Creatures for Commercial
December 23, 2014

MPC Crafts Unexpected Creatures for Commercial

Little Frill, a frustrated digital frill-necked lizard, and his housemate, the cheeky tarsier, are the latest stars of first direct’s “unexpected” brand campaign. Conceived by JWT and directed by Outsider duo Dom & Nic, the new integrated campaign features CG creatures developed by MPC and builds on the success of the award-winning “Barry the platypus” ads.

Filmed around hipster hangout the Truman Brewery in East London, the spot follows the quirky CG character who finds frustration in poor customer service, and recommends first direct bank as an antidote. MPC’s 3D team developed the Australian fauna, an intensive and detailed task due to the creatures unconventional looks. 

CG Supervisor Jon Park said, “Receiving the script for these unique creatures was intriguing to say the least – none of us had ever seen a frill necked lizard, let alone built one in 3D! We created Little Frill from the best bits of the lizards we studied, giving him his own particular neck pattern and face shape. Our creatures are designed to look physically real, but creatively take on human characteristics in their mannerisms and movements.”

Little Frill spends all his time standing upright, which the lizard naturally wouldn't do. The team manipulated his body to stand in a human position; referencing footage of comedian Seann Walsh holding a giant phone recorded during his voiceover. It then became a balancing act between human and lizard performances for the animators.

Developing the tarsiers groom proved to be a challenge, as their fur is dense in areas and sparse in others. MPC proprietary software Furtility was used to develop the slightly scraggly look. 

As the tarsier character doesn't speak, capturing details in her look were key to portraying her attitude. Tarsier’s eyes are naturally huge in comparison to the rest of their features (roughly the same size as their brains), and in the first shot they are seen in extreme close-up, which required a lot of attention from the VFX team. Intricate textures and tears were added to enhance the eyes’ naturally watery appearance. In addition, specific attention was paid to the iris and the way light and shadow reacts to the surface. Adding almost imperceptible movements of the pupil and eyelids completed the realism.