Award-winning animation and visual effects studio Hinge Digital recently teamed up with BVK to create a clever series of advertisements for Carrington College. The integrated campaign includes two animated and live-action broadcast spots, as well as three online outtakes, 24 print ads and plush toys, which all showcase original character designs by Hinge Digital’s talented team of artists. “Carrington College Squirrel,” the first :30 campaign promo, introduces new Carrington bird mascots, Goldie and Blue, and is now airing on TV, with a live-action spot to follow in September.
Under the direction of Hinge Digital’s Alex Tysowsky, a 30-person crew delivered multiple pieces of the campaign from concepting and storyboarding to character design and modeling, animation, VFX and editing, all in less than three months. The team faced a number of complex animation challenges throughout, especially in making the characters stand out without dialog and adapting design elements to ensure they would work across all facets of the campaign.
“Truly unique, the first ad introduces Goldie and Blue for the first time without any dialog, so our animation really had to drive the story,” said Tysowsky. “The success of the entire campaign hinged on our ability to visually convey the story through our animation on this first spot. Adding to the challenge, we had to carefully design the characters to work graphically across multiple platforms: TV, twitter, pens, plush animals, billboards.”
In “Carrington College Squirrel,” an amiable squirrel atop a tree sees three other squirrels on a neighboring tree indulging in acorns – representative of the student demographic. Intent on joining them, he edges out to the end of the branch, but one look down below petrifies him, and he returns to the base of the tree defeated. Goldie and Blue, symbolizing Carrington career counselors, appear and encourage him to take a leap of faith. After confiding in Goldie and Blue, he musters the courage to leap across – joining his friends. Outtakes of the spot, which started airing at the end of August on Carrington’s website, offer a look behind the scenes of the shoot.
“The creative process on this project ran smooth,” said Hinge Digital VFX supervisor Michael Kuehn. “BVK came up with the initial concept, but gave us the freedom to design these characters and bring them to life in an interesting way that would translate across the campaign. It was pure magic. When you run through dailies with a client and receive a genuine positive, passionate reaction to the characters you’ve worked so hard to create, that’s a great feeling.”
“Hinge Digital offers the right mix of creative talent, artistry and technology that this sort of campaign requires,” BVK art director Ryan Smith said. “They were there for us throughout the entire creative process and played an integral role in developing loveable, believable characters that carry this campaign.”
Hinge Digital leveraged a variety of technology throughout the project including proprietary plug-ins, Maya for 3D animation, Shave and a Haircut, Mari for 3D painting, Nuke for compositing, Mudbox and ZBrush for modeling, headus UVLayout, mental ray and SquidNet for rendering, as well as Shotgun, Revolver, Tweak RV and cineSync.