Director Jake Mengers recently relied on MPC’s visual effects artists to produce a new 30-second spot for SCA-owned brand Cushelle. The spot takes the brand’s mascot, a cuddly Koala, into a dynamic video game world that evolves from the 8-bit graphics of 1980s’ video games, through to a 64-bit filmic action sequence.
“There’s a collective affection for Cushelle’s Koala, so it was great to bring him to life as an action-figure, adding some energetic comedy elements while keeping his cuteness intact,” said Mengers. “We designed his new environment from scratch and the options were endless – from the layout to the spiky obstacles he encounters along the way.”
As the Koala negotiates its new surroundings, his ‘Whoosh 3000’ transforms pixelated objects into softer versions of themselves. MPC’s VFX team developed the spot entirely in CG, using a variety of VFX techniques to create the environment.
Mengers had a clear vision for the design of multiple layers of this pixelated world, which enabled the VFX artists to jump straight into the pre-vis. The 3D pre-vis mapped out the placement of the various objects, as well as determining how the camera and Koala would travel through the environment. With a lot of action to fit into the 30-secod spot, pre-vis was key in the early planning stages.
Creating an 8-bit pixelated world that had to morph into filmic, photo-realistic CGI required some creative and technical problem solving. Designing pixelated trees that would hold up as the camera pans past them required the team to develop a new software tool. This tool was designed specifically to arrange 3D cubes, (representing pixels), on a grid in a 3D model.
VFX supervisor Fabian Frank said, “Creating a whole new environment for our Koala was incredibly fun, especially as developing a pixelated environment like this was quite subjective – what should an 8-bit blossom tree look like? It was important to keep certain elements intact so everything was recognizable in its new state.”
This was also the first time MPC’s VFX team used Arnold rendering software, which meant that a new pipeline had to be set up to work with MPC’s in-house fur tool, Furtility.