When Arm & Hammer wanted to showcase its AbsorbX kitty litter made from desert dry minerals, they turned to MPC to direct and create a spot that demonstrated its benefits in a fun and memorable way and highlighted the product’s origins – the desert.
Working closely with the team at The VIA Agency, our director and artists created a host of photoreal cat cowboys and cowgirls congregating in a desert saloon. The shoot took place in an existing two-story desert saloon bar in Bulgaria with a limited crew and MPC Director, Michael Gregory, directing remotely.
In addition to the production, we remotely handled the animation and VFX, enhancing the western feel to the footage and the set. The animation team seamlessly blended CG cat heads with human bodies. All of the cats in the spot were based on real cats, which were used as references on set for lighting and modeling. These references were then handed to the animation team to build out the characters.
This campaign is an example of what can be achieved when teams are working remotely across the globe. The end result is an award-winning campaign that is unforgettable and demonstrates true craftsmanship. The high-quality creature work was recognised at the prestigious VES Awards, winning the award for ‘Best Animated Character’ and was nominated at the AEAF Awards for ‘Best Animation’.
Doing everything remotely was a whole new experience for me as a director. From casting and wardrobe to SFX, tech scouts and callbacks on Zoom – it all took a little getting used to at first, but we quickly adapted and made it work. We were able to work with a scan of the location prior to the shoot, which enabled us to do an extremely accurate pre-vis, and we had the Arri camera and Cooke lenses on the location scout which was a huge help in blocking out the action and working out the framing prior to the shoot.Michael Gregory, Director, MPC
To keep the lip sync feeling animalistic, our animation teams sacrificed some of the ‘ooo’ and ‘w’ mouth shapes that start to make the face look too human and instead, we focused on a solid sync for the jaw movement, exaggerating the closed mouth shapes and using the head to gesture the more animated phrases. This technique enabled us to make a talking cat feel convincing, while preserving the cat-like features and expressions.
MPC Creative shot the film in an existing Western film set in Eastern Europe. With Covid only a few months old, the travel and on set restrictions our teams faced were a significant challenge. Our MPC Creative Live Action Producer was on set with our Director (and clients) viewing the entire pre-production and shoot remotley from the US. Working across four time zones, the shoot was ambitious and complex, from wardrobe fittings to art department briefings, to the actor’s performances on set to the VFX requirements.
The VIA Agency
Creative Lead Ian Dunn
Creatives Will Garcia, Renata Chimenti
Producer Barry Wolford
Client Strategists Leslie Henderson, Hannah LaSala
Director Michael Gregory
Producer Johnny Blick
POST PRODUCTION TEAM
Animation Lead David Bryan
2D Lead Vanessa Duquesnay
VFX Supervisor Kiril Mirkov
Animation Team Chris Welsby, James Bown, Clementine Supiot, Shiny Rajan
CG Team Matias Heker, Prashanth Paramasivam, Silvia Bartoli, Tiago Dias, Maximilian Mallmann, Radu Ciubotariu, Jemmy Molero, Kartik Gupta
2D Team Marjolein Verheij, Pratyush Paruchuri , Emma Tyler
DMP Team Charles Downman, Radhakrishnan R
Editor Lance Pereira
Storyboard Artist Maurits Valk
Concepts Michelle Tolo, Stephen Molyneaux
Creative (Concepts) Claus Hansen
Flame/Finishing Benji Davidson
Colourist Ricky Gausis
Colour Assist Nate Seymour
Executive Producer Karen Anderson
Senior Producer Johnny Blick
VFX Producers Nicole Saccardi, Solomon Tiigah
Finishing Producer Ciaran Birks
Line producers Chanakya Chander, Anna Kravtsov
Production Coordinator Sririthika Iyer
Colour Producers Diane Valera, Sasha Pace
Production Service Company
DP Krum Rodriguez
Sound Designer Gavin Little