A new brand of candies called Bilar ("Cars") was introduced to the stands and candy shelves of Finnish markets. Director Sam Shingler and advertising agency Family had together worked up a concept for the launch: the idea was to produce a series of interviews of other finnish candies and record their reactions and opinions about the newcomers in documentary Creature Comforts style.
"We wanted to stick carefully to the documentary/interview style. We didn't use panning and flying cameras or the crazy effects you usually see in 3d animations. It was decided to keep it simple and focus on the characters and the things they say.", Sam says and continues: "In the scenes with the reckless Bilar characters more cinematic approach and setups were used, but it was still within the same styleframe."
Sam and Family contacted Piñata early in the production so we could collaborate with storylines and design and get the production in the right direction straight from the start. "We all had more or less the same vision what the final film was going to look like. Still, there were a lot of small questions about details and design we had to think through.", animation director Mikko says.
After discussing with the agency and Sam, Tuomas started working on the design and look of the world while Mikko, Jani and Ville focused on characters.
"Finding the right kind of look was relatively easy because this is a familiar style for me. The hardest part was defining the amount of cartoony aspects and colorfullness for the world... The candy characters were the main focus even though the backgrounds were build rich and detailed. Finding the balance there was the challenge.", Tuomas sums up the process.
Because of the many speaking characters the project was heavily emphasized on animation and a lot of working hours were spent on rigs, animation and thinking about the personality of different characters. Animator Jani describes: "Actually people have said that something in IsoTatti's ("BigShroom's") facial expressions and persona is reminding me. Haha! But yeah, my animations skills really improved with this project. For the first time the rigs were so good that technical aspects didn't limit my freedom with the animation, I got to practice my lipsync animation and all... it was great."
Ville continues about the more technical aspects of animation: "In the end the rigs were quite simple: the characters had no hands or legs. But then again, there was a huge amount of different characters with different kind of physique - if you can say that... so all characters required special attention."
In this project it was also exceptional that we had enough time to focus on each character and not rush to the deadline every afternoon. At first, Mikko drew rough 2d versions of the animations for reference but in the end it was quicker to just block out things live in 3d.
While the guys worked on animations the world was coming to life on Timo's desk: most of the 3d modeling, materials and lighting was done by him. Timo describes the process: "I just tried to follow the style of the concept sketches but take it into more realistic direction. With the lighting I used basic setups but emphasized the cartoony aspects with soft and colorful lights and occasional secondary lights. The lighting was the glue that made all the different pieces fit together."
From there on, it was Mika's job to finalize the look and add small animations and effects to make the world look lively. And when you produce several separate pieces of animation it is inevitable that some of if looks a little bit different. Then it's Mika's job to do the final tuning, color grading and see that everything blends together nicely.
"It was nice how far the other artists had taken the material already. I could focus mainly on my job and not spend huge amount of time fixing big things. Our pipeline worked very well here! Also the client had an exceptional trust on us with the whole animation and we didn't have to do ANY big changes.", Mika says.
The sound world created by Humina was also a major part of the film, creating the environment and emphasizing the personality of characters. "We even went that far we didn't tell the voice actors they played candy characters. This finalized the feel of a real documentary and added great deal of humour to the animations.", Sam says.
Piñata producer Sari sums up the production: "I love producing cases like this. There lies a challenge in the sheer scale of the production but then again the whole studio can participate and create something together. It's a wonderful feeling when you complete something together and the client is extremely happy with the result!"
Client: Leaf / Ahlgrens Bilar
Director: Sam Shingler
Creatives: Sauli Hirvi, Pia Af Hällström, Juhana Mikkanen, Minsu Kuusisto, Elli Tuominen
Project Manager: Jari Karlsson
Sound design: Humina
Piñata artists: Timo Hämäläinen, Ville Ikonen, Tuomas Korpi, Jani Toikka, Mika Rantala, Mikko Vormala