Beautiful beans deserve the ultimate preparation, so who better than NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, with a storied career of greatness, to push them to their highest potential.
Good boy Duke and his pal Jay Bush have been helping generations fall in love with Bush’s beans for over three decades, but they’re introducing a new rookie to their team just in time for Super Bowl LVII. The five-time NFL MVP is a perfectionist, willing to give everything it takes to be the best at bean promotion, going the extra mile at every turn.
This was not Framestore’s first time collaborating on Bush’s Beans, but director Michael Illick and creative agency Carmichael Lynch’s cinematic and detail-oriented approach showcases the beans at their best.
“There is such a long running partnership between Bush Beans and us here at Framestore, we couldn't wait to be working with Duke again,” said Framestore Creative Director Andy Rowan-Robinson. “We have such a tried and tested workflow for augmenting his performance, it is a dream to work on these projects. And the fact this will be airing during the Super Bowl just made it even more special.”
The VFX team’s greatest challenge was enhancing Duke’s performance – while well-trained, he’s not exactly a seasoned public speaker. Using Framestore’s CG tools, the canine was able to deliver his lines like a pro. Since the team was only replacing his muzzle, they had to go to great lengths to ensure that the CG version of Duke matched the real one exactly. LiDAR scans allowed artists to capture his precise dimensions (it helped that Duke is good at sitting still). Photoreal skin textures and fur brought the model to life and allowed them to blend the animated mouth onto Duke’s performance.
Following the shoot, the asset team immediately got to work creating a virtual Duke, ensuring proportions were accurate and reference photos were used to build textures – quite an undertaking, given how closely the camera pans into Duke’s face. The groom artist then undertook the painstaking process of creating dog fur that was photorealistic.
Once the edit was locked, the animation team placed the CG Duke into the 3D space and animated his lines using pre-recorded dialogue. Simultaneously, the lighters brought the animated dog to life while compositors tackled the final step of blending the CG Duke seamlessly with the real one.
"Working with a canine actor on set is always a fun experience, but it also poses its own unique challenges – lots of patience and heavy post-production work,” said Carmichael Lynch Creative Director, Daniel Alves. “Framestore has years of experience working with our iconic character, Duke. They have the process of animating Duke's (a.k.a. William) muzzle down to a T and have become more than a VFX partner—they are performers. Internally, we think of Framestore as Duke's acting chops. From figuring out what's just the right level of roundness in Duke's teeth to how to pull off the perfect "mischievous smirk," it has been a pleasure working with such an amazing team.”
Final color grade was completed by colorist Bryan Smaller of Company 3.