Burbank-based FuseFX recently helped bring Penn State University‘s Nittany Lion to life for a 30-second commercial promoting the school and its students as “connected for life.” In the spot, which airs during televised Penn State athletic events, the statue flexes its muscles and leaps from its stone pedestal.
Kristian Berg, a senior producer/director with WPSU Penn State, came up with the idea of animating the Nittany Lion statue as a way of highlighting the bond between the school and its students and alumni. “The lion is a powerful symbol,” he explained. “Every graduate has his or her picture taken with the statue. It’s an emotional touchstone for all Penn Staters.” The statue was a gift to the school from its Class of 1940 and cut from a 13-ton limestone block.
The commercial blends digital cinematography of the statue with a 3D computer-animated model. The model was produced by FuseFX artists from a minutely-detailed 3D laser scan of the statue. The animation makes the statue appear to move with feline suppleness, while retaining its sculpted form and texture. “It had to be a statue but it also had to look like it’s alive,” said Berg. “It was fascinating to watch how well the FuseFX team was able to blend cat and stone together.”