Completed September 16, 2003

Robaxacet was completed approximately one month ago and is currently playing in Canada. This is the first of a series of spots featuring the familiar Robaxacet puppets in a new advertising campaign – the full integration of the CG puppets into live action sets.

Because the animation had to be very realistic, we had live actors perform the required actions on film which we then referenced for our keyframing. This was very important because it was through reviewing the actors’ actions that we picked up on subtle nuances we would have otherwise overlooked. Since the actors were only used for reference, we could add additional actions which we thought of afterwards on top of the already existing referenced animation. This allowed us to have a basic ground motion to work from, which we could then embellish with additional actions when required.

During the shoot, we made sure to shoot sufficient reference material for lighting and rendering purposes. The most important of these was my trusty white sphere and cone which is made of matted white Styrofoam, and is fantastic for describing the location of the lights, the intensity of the lights, the color of the lights and the ambient color of the set. As mentioned before, we had all the reference of the actors on film for animation, and finally, we also shot various instances of the real puppet in-situation which was perfect for describing how the light interacted with such a dark, glossy wood.

As you may have already noticed, we took some liberty with the color of the puppet’s wood and lightened it up a little. This was important because although the dark color worked just fine for the interior room shots (against the yellow), the exterior shots made the puppet look virtually black and therefore very difficult to see. In addition, due to the very organic forms of the puppets which would therefore be quite difficult to effectively texture map, we decided to use procedurally generated wood for textures. At first we were skeptical about the idea due to the complexity limitations of procedurally generated materials, but soon after we realized that by using various procedurals layered on top of one another, we could very precisely mimic the original puppet wood material.

The lighting and rendering of Robaxacet was a combination of traditional lighting techniques in conjunction with image-based lighting and global illumination. In most instances, virtual 3D sets were modeled so that the lighting would interact appropriately with the characters. This is especially noticeable in the scene in which the front door opens and the dog, boy and girl come running out of the house. The front of the house had to be modeled so that the scene could be properly lit inside the house with warm yellow lights and outside of the house with cool blue ambient lights.


Directed by Richard Rosenman.
Animated by Kyle Dunlevy and Justin Kupka.
Modeled by Joel Mongeon and Ben Pilgrim, rigged by Ben Pilgrim.
Composited by Brad Husband.

Produced at Redrover Studios Ltd.