Framestore collaborated with director Tomas Jonsgården, Boys + Girls and Ponder to create “Jeff’s World” for Three Ireland where they were tasked with bringing to life Jeff, a plucky pet bearded dragon who goes on an adventure while his owners are out of town.
"We could not have picked a better partner than Framestore for this project. The sparring of the ideas and their execution was just brilliant. Can’t wait for the next chance to collaborate on a project and perhaps that includes taking Jeff out for another spin." Tomas Jonsgården, Director.
Starting from the concept, the team headed up by Framestore’s VFX Supervisor, Jules Janaud worked closely with Tomas Jonsgården who directed the piece for Boys + Girls to define Jeff's character. Paying close attention to how a bearded dragon moves and behaves in its environment the team gathered a bank of reference material. They then created Jeff’s features including the scales, his iconic soft chin with spikes, the distinctive jiggle, and a bespoke rig for the inside of his mouth. They also used a procedural system in Houdini to ensure the scales would function and look realistic whilst Jeff was tweaked and iterated along the way.
On set, the team used a taxidermy bearded dragon for lighting references. In addition, they 3D scanned each scene and captured as many references as possible to help reconstruct each shot environment to perfection
“Several shots were shot at high-speed, so it was tricky to ensure the animation felt real,” said Jules Januad. “Lizards move in a broken-up way and if you start slowing things down it doesn't always work well visually. We had to find subtle elegant moves whilst ensuring Jeff remained looking like an authentic lizard, so we added some skin passes, such as rippled, deformation and details on the spikes to move with the wind.”
“It was challenging to create a character that was both anatomically correct, but also have the ability to be comical in its performance,” said Jules Janaud. “Jeff had to be believable but at the same time we needed to create something beyond the boundaries of realism.”
Kris Clarkin, Creative Director of Boys + Girls said “An idea like this one lives or dies in how it is executed, so we were delighted when Framestore came on board. From day one, it felt like we had a shared vision for the project. The craft and attention-to-detail from Jules and his team was second to none. They are truly world class and it was a joy to collaborate with them on Jeff’s World.”
"In order to illustrate Jeff's newfound lust for life we built upon his generally relaxed posture and inserted some lizard-like head looks and eye darts to emphasise the comedy,” added Framestore’s Lead Animator, Daniel Bielawski. “The parts that work best for me are when he’s not in control – his entire body might lose grip on the slippery vacuum cleaner surface, but he still happily bumbles through the city streets!"
Alongside the creature work, the environment called for various set digital matte paintings and backgrounds including some sky enhancement and adding buildings such as skyscrapers to heighten the vibrant city feel.
“This type of work is a playground for VFX artists in general and it’s pure enjoyment to make something that’s fun to watch.” said Jules Janaud.
The grade for the spot was completed by Jean-Clément Soret at Framestore’s sister company, Company 3.