Directed by Independent’s Gary Freedman, this festive ad for McDonald’s opens in a quintessential toyshop where we meet Juliette, a wooden doll, looking hopefully out of the window at groups of friends having fun in McDonalds. December rolls on, toys are picked up and taken home, but she remains on the shelf. The companionship and joy she can see over the road become hard to resist, and she escapes into the real world to reach the comfort of the golden arches.
Juliette is a 3D-printed doll with a painted wood effect, concepted and designed by MPC in collaboration with props specialists Artem. Throughout the film, she appears as both a puppeteered and CG doll. The teams creative challenge was to create a seamless transition between the puppetteered and the interspersed CG shots. Keeping her movements expressive without straying into full animation was key to Freedman’s vision.
Dan Sanders, MPC’s VFX Supervisor, comments: ‘The biggest challenge with this film was to create a CG doll that matched the look and movement of a puppeteered wooden doll. The doll also had to convey the right emotional depth and range within the material constraints of wood. She has to look vulnerable, so we feel the reward of her reaching the safety and comfort of McDonald’s. We conveyed her fragility with the subtlest of animated facial expressions and movements, from widening eyes to skidding in the snow. Once inside the restaurant, she needs to be filled with wonder and optimism, but this characterisation is challenging as she has no eyelids, and her mouth can’t open – but she still needs to emote.’
Using the same data for the 3D printing, the team of VFX artists created the doll’s digital double. To create the CG doll’s furry jacket, MPC used its bespoke fur system to expertly craft every strand, in the same approach to creating a CG creature. Extensive Digital Matte Painting (DMP) created a Victorian-style street setting complete with falling snow, footprints, Christmas decorations, twinkling lights, and other festive touches.
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