MPC has created Eefer, a CG robot at the centre of E4's latest channel idents who lives in a grimier, grittier world of bedsits and caravan parks than you'd expect a fully sentient artifical creature to inhabit.
Eefer appears in five idents, including Caravan (above) and Bedsit (bottom). They were directed by E4's creative director Neil Gorringe, with MPC providing character design and development through to final VFX work.
"I wanted to keep the logo in our idents," says Neil, "and bringing it to life as a robot with E4's personality felt like it offered us loads of possibilities across the board.”
MPC first shot a test film in Soho to work out how the character would move – and how they could realistically render and composite him into authentic-feeling footage. The firm also explored a number of versions of how the character could look before fixing on the one in the idents, which you can see below.
With a final design settled on, the character was modelled in Cinema 4D. Scratched and rusted textures were applied to make Eefer feel as real as his environment. This model was then used to create a physical 'dummy' of the robot be used on-set (below)
MPC's team photographed each of the locations and sets to created 3D replicas for Eefer to interact with.
Back in Soho, MPC filmed Eefer's animation moves at its in-house mocap studio – using scaled props based on the photos they'd taken on-set/location.
The mocap data was applied to the model of Eefer. His eyes and hands were hand-animated to portray his emotions.
Once fully animated and rendered, Eefer was composited into the scenes – and these were subtly graded to bring all the elements together.
"Through character development, Eefer has grown from an innocent, naïve little guy into the slightly down-trodden but surprisingly loveable character you see today," says Rupert Creswell, character designer and lead animator from MPC’s Motion Design Studio. "The detail and finishing touches make all the difference – especially his battered finish and the 'beer-pouring hatch.’ "
Text in the idents can be updated easily to tie them to particular shows, freshen them over time, or to allow user-submitted phrases to be added (as can submitted photos).