“We wanted to create a world with a fantasy feel. We were not after a realistic looking world, but at the same time not hing that looked like a cartoon. We decided to place the children in the project in an environment that you would love to have been in when you were a child, and thought of an attic with the cosy feeling of a cubby house, and employed the device of a pop-up book. Compositing the footage was done in After Effects, using Keylight for keying with rotoscoping to merge some shots together. For example, the first shot in which the three children run towards camera, is a combination of two separate shots. “As directing children is quite challenging and this lot were quite young it was difficult to get them all to do the right thing at once.Rotoscoping helped us combine the best performances into effective shots.” – Callan, Creative Director
Creating the Animals.
They spent a fair amount of time putting together mood-boards for the animals. We wanted them to look unique in their own way, but weren’t sure if we wanted them to unfold in a realistic style as they do in pop up books, or keep tham as animals drawn on pieces of paper that folded up more simply. We ended up combng an origami look with a cut-out paper effect, folding down in a way that let them spring up looking natural and organic. Callan said, “I manually animated the Elephant first to see what kind of look we wanted to go for in animation, settling on a bouncy look as we felt this was friendlier and suited the style of the commercial. But we didn’t manually animate every single keyframe for every animal. One of our animators put together an After Effects expression that supported automatic secondary animation controlled with mathematical equations. This meant we needed just two keyframes for each moving part of the animal – the folded position and the unfolded position – and with the expression applied, it would automatically animate as if it were bouncing. This made it much easier and quicker to animate every animal. As there’s around 20 to 30 animals in the video, it saved us a lot of time!”
3D and Ray-Tracing in After Effects
True 3D was only used for two shots in this video – the possum and the frog. These were both created, rigged, lit and rendered out of Maya by one of Jumbla’s animators.
Although it is quite rigid, the children’s pop-up book is based on a real book in the team’s studio and works in a way very similar to an actual book. Pop-up book pages are very sturdy in order to hold the objects inside without bending and tearing. The cover was created using basic shape layers in after effects that were then extruded using After Effects’ ray tracing engine.
“We could animate the shape path and it would animate the extruded shape – meaning that we could create a spine that animated when the book opened. The spine was drawn separately from the cover and back page, which had additional flat layers on them that were textured, as you cannot apply textures to extruded shapes in After Effects. The pages themselves again were separate compositions with a paper texture in them, but using ray-tracing engine allowed us to curve the pages somewhat. So when the book opens up, the pages curve to give them a bit of movement,” said Callan. “I created the book and animated each page opening and closing manually, which required a lot of key-frames to get it looking right and to not have layers crossing over one and other. I left about 10 seconds in-between each page turn. When all of the animals were completed, we went into the book composition and placed them across the page.
“We also used the ray-tracing engine for the animals, as it allows you to bend and curve layers. This meant that for all of the animals we could apply curves to certain parts of them, such as their ears or necks. Each animal has curved pieces of geometry combined with flat folded out parts, giving us a more realistic, hand-made look.”
Black & White and Colour
The agency Grant Day James originally came to Jumbla with a script and the idea of making the commercial essentially black and white, where the pop-up book would appear very white and pure. During the development phase the team came up with the idea of adding the children into the story that would interact with the book as it would slowly come to life.
As the spot is about extinction of animals, they found it effective to start the commercial off with the black and white, pure feeling – but when the main message is delivered, a world full of colour represents the end of extinction. They felt this had much more impact and made more sense for the story than keeping the entire story black and white, and also looked nice from a stylistic point of view.
Callan said, “We wanted it to be an explosion of colour, with all kinds of animals jumping out and birds flying out of the book. That one master shot when the book explodes out of nowhere took several weeks to create inside of After Effects. The water was again created using the ray-tracing engine to bend and curve layers in an interesting way.