When Live Was Not an Option, Monkeyhead Used CGI
June 22, 2021

When Live Was Not an Option, Monkeyhead Used CGI

Like many other companies, Monkeyhead was forced to change their approaches to animation with the new difficulties COVID created. It seemed like every project needed a new approach and had its own unique challenges. They are super proud that not only did they stay busy in 2020, but they also gained new clients and new skills due to their need to rethink their strategies to animation overall. Monkeyhead are particularly excited about their latest commercial for Mothers CMX Car Care Products that they partnered with agency SCS to create.
What makes this spot unique is that due to COVID, Monkeyhead had to pivot away from their usual approaches when partners at SCS approached them with their dilemma — SCS needed a water-focused car commercial but couldn't shoot it live action as they originally planned due to local government restrictions. SCS came up with the clever solution to capture the new product line and brought the idea to Monkeyhead to execute. 

What was the solution? To create the entire 30-second spot in 3D with not just water beading off the car, but SCS also wanted the water to animate to custom music created for this commercial. Monkeyhead had amazing synergy working together with the team at SCS and they think that definitely helped create such this fully CG spot.

The process for this job involved many simultaneously moving parts and required Monkeyhead to build a team of strong, experienced artists who could work quickly and effectively, independently as well as part of a team. The team involved not only multiple designers and animators, but also multiple compositors, lighters as well as numerous water specialists. Since this spot relied so heavily on the water reacting correctly to the music track, Monkeyhead put together a group of water specialists, each focusing on a specific effect to make sure all types of motion were covered.

Since this commercial is being driven by music, it was important to get custom music created that could really help sell the products hydrophobic technology. The team knew they needed something with large sound hits as well as subtle backup sounds to really create a dancing yet impactful feel throughout the spot. SCS partnered with composer David Helpling due to his experience with ambient and powerful tracks, which is exactly what this type of spot needed. 

While the music was being composed, the next step was to secure the perfect car model to showcase CMX’s new product line. The team decided they wanted to use GM’s new 2021 Corvette and set out to acquire a model when they ran into a new hurdle — GM required creative approval from their team on the concept and usage of the car before they would allow Monkeyhead to use the model. The first step of the process was a written explanation that the new Corvette was the perfect car to showcase Mothers CMX line and that their intention was to heighten the beauty of their vehicle. A second step took place that involved sharing design frames with GM to approve the look of the Corvette, which Monkeyhead received. 

During the first two steps of the Corvette clearance, Monkeyhead started on design. SCS provided Monkeyhead with a rough concept for environment and atmosphere and Monkeyhead went to work exploring lighting, atmosphere, speaker layouts and design, flooring and the right amount of water to use throughout the commercial. The final look has us in a moody yet heightened environment as we feel a sense of mystery and intrigue as we follow the water through its dancing journey across the surface of the car. 

As you can imagine, Monkeyhead’s team spent hours upon hours running different water simulations to see what was working best for each scene. As you watch the commercial, you’ll notice that there isn't just one type of water shape or motion but multiple different kinds. This is due to the unique music hits that pepper their way through the commercial as well as different parts of the car being highlighted. Tons of research was needed to see how water would naturally react to different surfaces and curves of the car and thus, many hours of simulations were run. You’d think that this would cause heavy render times, however, Monkeyhead was able to utilize their in-house render farm as well as external render farms to make sure they stayed on their five week schedule. 

Once final renders finished up, compositing with their team was a breeze. Monkeyhead’s compositors each tackled specific moments so no detail was overlooked, whether it be their subtle red smoke hovering above the Corvette or the fine water mist coming off of the solo product moments. 

By the end of the project, the SCS team and Monkeyhead team had a commercial they were all very proud of and a client with a huge smile on their face. This project really shows how important an awesome team as well as a solid creative idea are for a successful end product.

The commercial can be viewed here.