"The first four or so weeks were pure development," says Newton, "During which time we sketched and modelled over and over to get the three dimensional Jeeves right. The client gave us the original artwork, and we could see how the character had evolved from his initial conception to his most recent incarnation in 2004. It was our job to bring him up to 2009 and beyond. He’s energetic, warm, friendly, intelligent and sharp.
"At the same time, any of the older connotations his name and station might carry – aloofness, say, or poshness – were ruthlessly excluded. Part of this was entailed in his sartorial rethink, with a natty suit and tie from Gieves & Hawkes replacing the old morning coat he used to sport."
With the look finalized, further depth could be added through movement. Working throughout in Maya, Newton’s team started – as animators so often do – with his walk.
“He’s relaxed,” Newton says, “He leans back a bit and has a spring in his step. His walk tells you that he’s at ease and can handle anything you throw at him without stress. It’s a lot to pack into a walk…”
The TV spots which will be appearing over forthcoming weeks are essentially cameos, written to show how Ask Jeeves can help ordinary people deal with everyday situations, such as cookery, DIY, parenting and so forth. Jeeves performs in these vignettes on a white background, so all eyes are on him – which, as Newton points out, is every animator’s dream.
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