'Behind the scenes'
Having produced the previous 2010 animation and print campaign for Citrix Systems, inc. we were delighted to continue the theme into 2011s promoting their computer virtualisation services. Citrix’s ongoing campaign presents how their streamlined services enable you to store and share information wherever you are from one computer system through two separate executions- ‘chameleon’ and ‘work anywhere’. In the chameleon incarnation, the requirement was to demonstrate how the software gives users control ‘from the palm of your hand’, much in the same vein as the initial Citrix campaign, symbolised through the chameleon sat on the palm of a hand, flicking its tongue seizing computer screens from various locations and bringing them into the main The main direction for the chameleon was for it to look real but also capture the character of a chameleon, which has unique and subtle mannerisms for the print and animation segment of the project.
Like the first Citrix project, we were given control of the complete production for this campaign, to deliver assets for print and digital media. As a complete production studio, we were not only able to push the ambitions of the project both technically and creatively, but also efficiently manage the process through our RealWorld Rendering™ workflow.
Tailoring our techniques to the brief, we blended both live-action and CGI, focusing on lively animation and photo-realism. Ensuring an efficient production that maximised value within project constraints, we also repurposed assets from the previous campaign, providing continuity as well as cost and time savings.
In order to achieve the desired level of realism, our R&D department had an extensive research phase, to get the look and feel of the chameleon right. This stage was crucial in the lead-up to production, it was important that we got approval from the client on the chameleon, specifying colour, shape and size. We developed references and moodboards to hone in on the perfect look for our client. Work at these initial stages and the concept sketches provided a great starting block. Nailing that and working on our first still image, which was used as our print-based set-up, was quite difficult; getting him to look really nice as well as having his limbs in all of the screens and his head in the right position, was a challenge we had to grasp from the start and the sketches acted as a helpful guide.
From the sketches, we were then able to create the storyboards to establish timings of the chameleon movement, bringing all of the screens into the correct position in a slick animation. The chameleon is a bit of an unorthodox animal to create, so it was important that we mirrored all of the subtle movements unique to their species. Through our initial research, we looked at a lot of stock footage and nature programmes. A key feature was the eyes, each moving independently from the other; along with their robotic pace and their limb movements. Right from the start we built the chameleon with a realistic skeleton, along with some dedicatedrigging within CAT to recreate all the correct motions. Really capturing the nuances of the creature is what breathes life into any character animation, there was no motion capture so one of our artists lovingly hand-animated his every move.
The level of realism achieved on the chameleon, is a reflection of what we do across all of our work, always striving to attain the highest quality render. Achieving this requires an organised and versatile workflow. We use a very efficient XREF system through 3ds Max which allows us to make amendments to multiple render pass files whilst also rendering hundreds of millions of polygons at the drop of a hat. Coupled with VRay to perform both the lighting and shading, it provides a powerful and versatile workflow providing our retouchers with a highly detailed and base render to work from.
Building the CGI using primarily Zbrush for both the modelling and texturing phases, we then jumped over to 3ds Max for the crucial rigging stage. This ensured that both its model and texture were of a high enough resolution that it could be printed out as an 8,000 pixel wide print. Traditionally, you would’ve had an animated production company doing one part of the campaign and a print production studio doing another, unfortunately this can often lack unity across the separate medias, and it costs the client and agency a lot more money as assets aren’t being shared between print and motion. Instead, we were able to build one asset and animate it in 3ds Max’s CAT whilst positioning it for print.
For the live-action hand, the one element that connects all of the previous print and digital ads together, we were able to re-use assets from the first campaign. On the very first shoot, we gathered a lot of extra shots, making full use of our in-house photography studio, which meant we already had an extensive library of stills and motion, saving the client money and time.
Initially, we had planned on using CGI to create the out of focus background, but quickly we decided that this wouldn’t give us the desired results in the short time and used live-action footage as the back plate to give the piece a really authentic foundation. To achieve this, we filmed de-focused trees, moving naturally in the breeze. The scenes filmed were also photographed so that we could use the same backplate for print, keeping the work consistent across print and motion.
In the final stages, it was over to our retouch team, where they worked their magic to refine some of the raw 3D image by carefully balancing and refining tones, adding further texture and lighting effects. With all of our services held in-house, we have the flexibility to adapt to unforeseen situations, and we’re always looking to find the most cost-effective and best-looking route for the client by being able to offer a variety of production services spanning across print and motion.
The result is a beautifully crafted print and 30 second animation for Citrix’s website and online marketing. The campaign has been running globally since its launch in January 2011, adding to the 2010 animations that are still active. It has received great feedback from both the client and their customers. We loved this little character and so we decided to move this project further into a full live-action shoot, keeping only the chameleon as a CG object. We filmed a live action scene for the chameleon to interact seamlessly with the branch and his environment. Watch this at the end of this piece.
We’re constantly trying to do the most creative work we can whilst evolving the way in which we approach it. We’re in a privileged position of having all the services under one roof so we can always pull on another of our resources to solve a creative problem, and push the boundaries of what a client expects.
PRE-PRODUCTION / AGENCY LAYOUTS
PRE-PRODUCTION / REFERENCE IMAGES
POST-PRODUCTION / FINAL CLIENT