Psyop has completed the latest in a series of cardboard-centric spots for UPS, featuring a devastating storm that is solved by the efficiency of UPS' business services.
The spot follows on from Psyop's previous cardboard-themed UPS spots.
Psyop commented: "We were also given the task of creating characters and environments that looked truly hand crafted with the caveat that everything must always be made of cardboard. We worked collaboratively on a series of scripts in order to finesse the story and craft these worlds."
Creating truly convincing cardboard scenery was one of the major headaches for the studio: "One challenge we faced was creating a fully cardboard world that could feasibly have been created in a sound stage by stop-motion animators. Each character had to be broken apart and looked at from the standpoint that if we were to create this in reality, how would they be built to allow the animators to have the full range of motion required?"
Psyop continues: "We didn't want the characters to look "CG", so we tried to not cheat by using tricks in 3D. This forced us to approach character setup with some additional boundaries that in some ways made setup easier, but in others forced to us to become more like mechanical engineers and really focus on the details of believable mechanics."
The geometry was another challenge. Psyop says: "99.9% of the corrugation you see is modelled. We really focused on keeping the details in the model and to not rely on texturing tricks. This posed a challenge for our machines and our modelers. Without running on x64 machines and operating systems we wouldn't have been able to approach the project this way."
Even so, the project pushed Maya to the limits on what it can handle in a scene at once as the geometry polygon counts were so high. Psyop says: "It also pushed how much corrugation our modellers were able to handle before cracking mentally. Giving our geometry a messed-up look without going too far was also a challenge. If we kept the geometry too clean, it ended up looking too CG. On the other hand, if we pushed it too far our cardboard ended up looking like it came out of the garbage so we had to walk a fine line between the two."
However, the biggest challenge of all was fitting an epic tale into 25 seconds. "All of the scripts read like short films and we worked hard to tell these stories in a visually powerful way but within a tight time frame. Beyond this, the design of the worlds and characters in each spot was intense. It’s an interesting struggle to design everything out of cardboard and make it look and feel “real”. Our use of corrugation and texture, plus the thought that went into the rigging of the characters was an epic struggle in and of itself."