Click 3X Gives Cute Critters Mischievous Makeovers for GEICO
Believe it or not, baby animals could always be cuter and with the aid of a Flame suite, there's no limit to cuteness. When The Martin Agency and director Frank Todaro needed to add a little more personality to a baby pig and two nutty woodchucks for a pair of slapstick GEICO spots, they turned to the Click 3X team lead by CD/Flame Artist Mark Szumski, Lead Flame Artist Evan Schoonmaker and VFX Producer Chris Kiser.
In both Piggy and Woodchucks the seasoned VFX team gave mischievous facelifts to animatronic animals created by Legacy, adding subtle details and movements to bring out the critters' impish personalities.
"We gave them a bit more character and made them seem like real creatures," says Szumski. "The end result is more like a character animation piece rather than just a rigged animatronic puppet."
For Woodchucks, in which two rodents literally chuck a hapless farmer's woodpile into a pond, Szumski cloned a single woodchuck puppet, color corrected their fur to differentiate the twosome and then composited the plates on top of the log cabin. They also added more life to their eyes and created subtle body movements, such as jiggling bellies, to make the creatures appear more cuddly, and less callous.
With Piggy the team undertook a small VFX shoot to film the pinwheels a piglet is holding inside the car after crying "weeee" all the way home, much to the chagrin of the vehicle's driver. They also tweaked the color of his nose and eyes to up the cuteness factor.
In all, the job took just under a month to complete. One of the most gratifying parts of the gig, Szumski says was the collaborative process with the agency and veteran director Todaro, who spent a day with the Click 3X team. "He was great to work with," he says. "We spent some time adding little nuances to the characters to make them more expressive. We've done a ton of creature work so this job was pretty second nature for us. Both spots were fun to work on and we really enjoy working with The Martin Agency."
Spot Title: Woodchucks, Piggy
Air Date: September 2010
Agency: The Martin Agency
SVP/Creative Director: Steve Bassett
Senior Art Director: Justin Harris
VP/Associate Creative Director: Wade Alger
VP/Executive Producer: Molly Souter
Asst. Producer: Nicole Hollis-Vitale
Financial Coordinator: Megan McDermott
Senior Integrated Prod. Bus. Mgr.: Amy Trenz
Talent Business Supervisor: Suzanne Wieringo
SVP/Account Director: Chris Mumford
Account Supervisor: Liz Toms
Account Executive: Ben Creasey
Prod Company: Moxie Pictures
Director: Frank Todaro
EP(s): Robert Fernandez, Lizzie Schwartz
Producer: Laura Heflin
Production Supervisor: Valerie Thomas
Editorial: MacKenzie Cutler
Editor: Ian MacKenzie
Post/Effects: Click 3X
Managing Director: Jason Mayo
Producer: Chris Kiser
Creative Director/Flame Artist: Mark Szumski
Lead Flame Artist: Evan Schoonmaker
Flame Artist: Sophia Avgousti
Flame Artist: Joe Vitale
Flame Artist: Kevin Quinlan
Flame Artist: John Ciampa
Shoot Location: L.A.