MPC NY recently created a light-hearted animated short film called Sunny and Steve – Enjoy the Sweets the first in a series of Sunny and Steve shorts that the studio plans to release. Written and directed by in-house talent Bill Dorais and Ty Coyle, the short film tells the humorous tale of an office worker as he struggles with a protective, seemingly innocent bunny on a quest for sweets. In this first episode released for Easter, Sunny revels in every opportunity to keep his Easter eggs from Steve, and goes to any length to ensure there is no sharing allowed.
Enjoy the Sweets is a blend of traditional stop-motion techniques and the latest animation technologies. Enhancing every frame with quirky details that capture a snippet of the 9-to-5 life of Steve, (set in the 1970s), the MPC team developed the concept, designed, shot and edited the two-minute short film – wrangling over 3,000 frames.
“Working on a project of this scale, along with the incredible support of the entire studio, has been an inspiring, immersive experience, and above all, a really fun team-building exercise to harness our animation and character development skills,” said Dorais.
“We wanted to push our creative freedom and make a special film of our own,” said Coyle.
Leveraging MPC’s character design skills and proprietary tools, along with a state-of-the-art fur pipeline previously used on the Dell “Thomas” campaign, the MPC team imagined and created the characters and environments from scratch.
“We’re always tailoring our animation style to meet the needs of the project,” explained lead animator Grae Revell. “We were drawn to stop-motion animation as the simplicity in the story lends itself well to this technique. Creating this look had two distinct challenges; we had to craft unique character performances while at the same time mimic that classic, tried-and-true style.”
The process began with a series of sketches from in-house concept artists before taking key designs through to character development. Striving for a bit of imperfection, every possible detail was carefully considered to reveal a quirky feature of the story. Look directors Charlotte Bae and Vanessa Lee set out to create the distinctive look of the animation by instilling a retro palette that visually represents each character’s personality and correlates with the handmade office setting, including the set build, which was created from scrap cloth, styrofoam and wood, as well as the character’s puppet-like limbs, the boss’s facial mole, Sunny’s whiskers and Steve’s slight scar. The level of attention to detail contributed to bring the characters to life in a fun and simple way.
With artwork as a starting point, the team further developed the characters through modelling, rigging and animation. Additional work was undertaken to develop the overall comedic look of the film and characters through textures using Mari, lighting using Arnold and compositing in Nuke. Sound design and music, crafted by Michael Scott, played a critical role in tying the story together. Colorist Adrian Seery put the finishing touches on the film, grading the images with a vibrant hue to match the slapstick tone.