Tab is the first of two new spots for Wrigley’s Extra chewing gum which features a cast of collectable characters, like Mr Banana, Mr Coffee and Mr Donut.

In the course of an ordinary day, the group follows our young hero around, until finally they are dispelled by a stick of Wrigley’s Extra. Conceived by advertising agency DDB Sydney and directed by Window Production’s Jonathan Baker the spot brings a cool, fresh and youthful spirit to the brand.

Fuel was provided with the initial character designs by illustrator Morten Rowley and from these developed up the 3D models, spending a lot of time discussing the different 3d toy textures with the director, to make the toys look as real as possible. Jonathan is a big fan of vinyl designer toys from artists like Kid Robot, Tim Tsui, Pete Fowler and Head Lock Studio, and wanted his characters to have a similar quirky sensibility. The director also insisted that the characters be seamlessly integrated into their environments; that they appeared like real toys that had sprung to life.

"There lies the challenge", admits Fuel’s 3D supervisor Anders Thonell, "animating the characters is only half the job, the thing that makes them look as if they live in the scenes is the way that they physically interact with all the surfaces and environments around them."

Thonell explains, "When CG meets live action, whether it is an escalator, linoleum floor or barber-shop chair, you have to recreate the real-life environments, their structure, lighting and textures in 3D, because the characters cast shadows and reflections - they affect the environment. If you want digital animation to be convincingly integrated into live action footage, 3D environments, elements, lighting and texturing, are key".

Sam Cole who was the lead compositor on Wrigley’s agrees, "When you get it right no-one notices, but get it wrong and the animation will ‘pop’ which is why I’m so happy with the work that Fuel’s lighting and 'shake' compositing team did on this job, in particular the contribution of lighting technical lead, Pawel Olas."

Shake is a compositing tool traditionally used on long-form or film production but is being utilized more and more on television commercials. Wrigley’s Tab with it’s menagerie of 3D characters that appear in almost every scene is a perfect candidate for shake.

"We used the same pipeline or process on Wrigley's that we pioneered on 'Charlotte's Web', which proves how sophisticated and complex commercials are getting these days," Sam Cole adds, "I’m also proud to say that the 2D team managed to output almost final composited shots, really only requiring finessing in Flame."

Fuel’s VFX supervisor, Andrew Hellen, sums up: "Fuel is always grateful for the opportunity to work on ambitious commercials, especially with directors like Jonathan Baker, who are so enthusiastic about the medium and come to digital animation and visual effects with such strong ideas and a collaborative approach."

The commercial can be found here (direct link to QuickTime).