What do you get when you mix Louis Theroux with dogs and one-line illustrations?

An affecting poem and Dane Khy's special scrawls are magically brought to life.

Fans of dogs, digital artistry and British TV's favourite non-nature documentary maker should brace themselves for A Life Shared.

The affecting spot, embedded below, brings to life a poem inspired by people and animals for Mayhew, a London-based animal welfare organisation. It also features single line illustrations by renowned artist Dane Khy, and champions of Mayhew, theatre actor Emily Raymond and the one and only Louis Theroux, provided voiceovers.

Coffee & TV were commissioned by McCann Demand for the project; C&TV's head of design Steve Waugh was on director duties while the studio’s motion graphics team took Khy’s 2D artwork and remodelled the imagery to live in a 3D space.

Khy also supplied Coffee & TV’s artists with watercolour washes so the team could add a painted look to create depth and mood in scenes. That's enough explaining for now; watch the short here and find out more from Coffee & TV on its creation process.

"We were briefed by McCann Demand to bring to life a poem, which tells the touching story of the relationship between a dog and their owner," Coffee & TV tell us. "They wanted a campaign film to focus on why it’s so important that people and their animals stay inseparable. 

"Accompanying the poem, we were given a series of amazing one-line illustrations by Dane Khy. We decided to recreate Dane’s seamless drawings in a three dimensional space, so that we could create dynamic camera moves to enhance the emotion.

"We felt it was very important to retain the simplicity of Dane’s illustrations as they communicated the story so efficiently and effectively. By setting the scene in 3D space, it just enabled us to have that extra level of creativity.

"Instead of the line existing solely as static and complete, we were able to give it life and a sense of progression. As we track and follow the line, its advance matches that of the narrative, revealing it as we progress."

A method shared

"We took the original drawings as reference and extruded the lines back into 3D space in Cinema 4D," C&TV continue.

"We then joined a series of illustrations together and animated the end point along with the camera to make a seamless piece. Adding extra 3D layers of watercolour washes in After Effects helped build a more solid scene."

"After quite a lot of research we ended up with the pace of the line being in a state of exaggerated realism. Plenty of contrast in the speed of line was the key.

"At times the line had to cover quite a lot of distance in a shot so we animated it much faster than you would assume would feel comfortable.

"At other points the line slowed down almost to a still but without ever quite stopping."

A line scrawled

"Essentially all the elements with the film are practical. All of Dane’s artwork was drawn by hand and any mattes we used were shot, including the textured watercolour paper.

"For the watercolour bleeding we used shot footage of ink in water as mattes. It was the only way to get a natural feel.

"I think all this helped to bring a human touch to the project."

Related: How Coffee & TV created a singing dog using ZBrush

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