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09/10/2006

C'Mon's Create Puppetry Magic For Vauxhall

Framestore CFC's versatile Commercials animators have created new characters for the Vauxhall spots, 'Follow That Car' and 'Get Up & Go'.
Created by agency DLKW, directed by Dom and Nic, and produced by John Madsen for Outsider, the two 40-second spots have begun airing in the UK this week. Featuring the urban adventures of a gang of five fabric puppets, the spots are the culmination of a couple of month's worth of oblique marketing devices. Virals (also created by Framestore CFC), websites, and an MTV presence have all been used, without any branding attaching to the puppets, all with the aim of getting the characters – collectively known as 'The C'mons' - onto the public's radar.
Over the last couple of years, the collaborations between directing team Dom and Nic and Framestore CFC have produced innovative and multi-award-winning projects. These have included the animated paper cutout, Hector, for Renault, and a menacing automaton for the Chemical Brothers' Believe promo. So when Dom & Nic needed someone who would be able to offer them all the freedoms they've come to expect from CG animation, but requiring a look that would usually be achieved with real figures, the returned to Framestore CFC and to frequent collaborator there, VFX Supervisor Ben Cronin.
Cronin commented: "A big benefit of CG, in addition to the flexibility it offers the creative team is that it speeds up the shoot immensely."
The shoot for the two TV spots took place in Barcelona a few months ago. After a brief reconnaissance, Cronin and Supervising Technical Director Jake Mengers spent several days getting the material they needed. This included some quite tricky elements.
Senior Animator Dale Newton commented: "We did a lot of work on the animation even before the shoot. We worked up a rough animation rig and started putting it through some run cycles. Just playing around with these gave us a good starting point for the characters. The challenge at this point was not only to work up an appropriate puppet style of animation, but a style that would be appropriate to each individual. Imbuing each puppet with character was important for us every step of the way."
One aspect that emerged from the team's work was that the puppets were built to work the same way they do in real life. For Senior Technical Director Simon Stoney, a central challenge was getting the knitting and stitching of the various fabrics to look right.
The final Framestore CFC touch for the two spots was the Telecine, created by Dave Ludlam. "Both spots needed an urban feel - natural and not too polished," Ludlam commented, "Although Get Up and Go had a bit more gloss, to capture that night-life vibe."
It is this frame-by-frame attention to detail, characteristic of the Framestore CFC approach, that helps the C'mons to come alive on the screen, creating a set of memorable and quirky cloth chums who are a delight to watch.
(DS/SP)
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