Projecting 3D models onto real people gave a distinctive look-&-feel to Aardman Animation’s campaign for the BBC’s multichannel services.

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The BBC may soon to be a little short on staff, but it doesn’t want to be short on viewers in the age of multichannel TV. As part of its commitment to promoting its digital television services – and digital TV as a whole – the Beeb commissioned advertising agency DFGW to create a series of commercials to encourage viewers to invest in the equipment or services necessary to receive the BBC’s six extra digital channels.
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The original concepts required modification as The Dregs were too dark for DFGW creative director Dave Waters. Instead Cook and Harding-Hill took the technique and used it to design the BBC Digital Family.

More modification was required to create the adverts in DFGW and the BBC’s time frame. Aardman was given five weeks to complete the first 60-second commercial – with the two 40-second ads due a week later.

“This forced us into the more experimental approach of ‘projecting’ live action footage directly onto the CGI models,” says Harding-Hill. “This would save time both in the build process and also in animating of the lipsynch.

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“It would also gives us a more distinctive look – or so we hoped. The BBC were very excited by this and encouraged us to go for it, which was very refreshing.”
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Aardman’s main challenge was that its own CG department was too busy to take on the job, so the modelling, texturing and animation of the central characters was farmed out to Glasgow’s Axis Animation – while Aardman looked after the design work, background artwork, the live action footage and the 2D animation for the background characters.
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Cook and Harding-Hill also worked on the limited amount of R&D that the project’s deadlines allowed for – creating a very basic live-action projection test in Maya.
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STEVE HARDING HILL

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Characters remaining: 335

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