MPC London recently finished a distinctive new on-screen look for British broadcaster E4. The company worked with agency 4Creative and director Neil Gorringe on the concept and development of the entertainment channel’s five new idents, which are centered around new E4 robot, Eefer
MPC was involved throughout the project, which began with a series of concept sketches from in-house concept artists before taking key designs through to character development.
“It’s been a lot of fun working with 4Creative and playing with multiple personalities for Eefer,” said Rupert Creswell, character designer and lead animator from MPC’s motion design studio. “Working closely with Neil Gorringe through character development, Eefer has grown from an innocent, naïve little guy into the slightly down-trodden but surprisingly loveable character you see today. The detail and finishing touches make all the difference – especially his battered finish and the ‘beer-pouring hatch.’”
The company developed a test film, filmed in and around Soho, to explore how the character would move and how he would look fully rendered and composited into a real world scenario. Eefer was taken through various iterations, including alterations to his size and form as options were explored for his final look.
“I wanted to keep the logo in our idents, and bringing it to life as a robot with E4’s personality, felt like it offered us loads of possibilities across the board,” said Gorringe.
Once the final character was selected he was modeled using Maxon’s Cinema 4D then textured and given a scratched and rusted finish, with various hatches and compartments added in. The idents were shot using motion capture and a custom rig designed to weigh an actor down and restrict his movements. The initial test filming took place in MPCs Film’s motion capture suite before the five-day shoot took place.
Filmed in various locations, including the Brecon Beacons in Wales, a life size model was created to act as a stand-in on set. The team photographed the sets for texturing and lighting as each room and location, down to the pieces of furniture would need to be re-created in 3D. It was also essential to measure everything he would interact with in order to build scaled props for the animation.
Following the shoot the team returned to the motion capture suite, where they filmed for one day. Eefer was composited into the shots, and his hands and eyes were hand-animated to give various expressions. George K completed the subtle, realistic grade, helping to integrate the CG character into the real world.
The campaign has also been broadened, with Eefer communicating with viewers on-screen via a purple placard he carries and off-screen via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as E4’s YouTube and Spotify channels.
The new idents feature updateable text, image and video elements, and over time, viewers will be able to submit their own photos and suggestions to feature in the idents and on Eefer’s placards.