XYZ adds cartoon fun to McDonalds ad

Australian studio XYZ Studios created the effects that let a live-action boy interact with a cartoon world to advertise McDonalds' Champion Kids competition for Australian TV.

The ad was commissioned by Leo Burnett Sydney, for a nationwide competition that invited sporty, active kids to email McDonalds telling the company what they love about sport. McDonalds has chosen six winners to visit the Beijing Olympics next month and XYZ's 60-second spot was produced to celebrate this.

Alongside the spot, XYZ also produced illustrations for in-store placemats, online banners and the McDonalds Web site.

In the spot, a boy plays in his house as an exotic cast of characters come to life on the walls, morphing and changing to match his imagination.

The team, directed by Tim Kentley, sketched out the characters by hand and used Photoshop for the 2D animation. They filmed the spot in RED 2K and edited it in Final Cut Pro. They used Shake and Combustion for tracking and compositing.

Tim Kentley said: "The Red camera is a perfect match for an animation workflow and proved itself on this shoot. It gives you 35mm depth of field at 4K without the film float and dust busting of traditional film, not to mention I can be editing the next day on my MacBook Pro. It's a bit easy, really."

Kentley explains that the agency originally envisaged that the animations would take place on a plain wall around a winners' head, but XYZ had other ideas: "We were in Sydney on another job, so dropped in on the agency to show them a much cooler way that we thought it could be done - 'let's put the animation on the walls and have the kid running around the house' - which they really loved and sealed the gig.

"As a kid I had ADHD which drove my parents nuts," he continues. "In fact, they always wanted four kids, but decided after me that three was enough – I didn't have to look hard in my past to get the inspiration of the kid running amuck around the house, with crazy thoughts appearing all over the walls!"

However, although the idea came easily, the logistics were harder, with casting and location proving particularly tricky. In the end, XYZ used Angus, one of the actual competition winners, and filmed the ad in Angus' real-life home, "so all the shots had to be worked out the day before the shoot," says Kentley. "We were really happy with how it all worked, with some creative work in post where we deleted doors, lowered fireplaces and replaced windows to make the walls a bigger canvas for the illustration.

"Once the footage had been captured, the difficulty became how best to bring a kids imagination to life," explains Kentley. "Using the walls, roofs and floors of his house as a canvas, the illustrations and characters designed by Auver Austria came to life and became a part of not only his thoughts, but our world as well. Using hand drawn pencil sketches as a basis for the character designs, the team of 2D animators set to work at a furious pace, cranking out frame after frame. In conjunction with the compositing team, a huge effort was undertaken to cram the spot full of as many details as possible. We wanted to create a spot that was dense with animation and detail, something that people could watch again and again and always find something new" said Kentley.

Click here to watch the ad.

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