BEATS BY DRE The Pills take over the VMAs



What a night the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards were! Like with the Super Bowl in 2012 we were tasked with setting up a system that could create instant content in reaction to live events for a massive brand – this time Beats by Dre.

We all knew that a ‘Miley Cyrus moment’ would happen and we needed to create a series of systems that would allow Beats to get maximum exposure on the night.

We designed the original Beats Pill character for a advert earlier this year, and our team in LA developed a series of spots to be used as teasers in the run up to the VMAs, introducing the new characters. Read more about that over here.

We were asked to create a real-time puppeteering system that would allow full live control of the Pill characters and to help with all aspects of social media dissemination. These instant clips and videos were voiced by comedians (Neal Brennan, Corey Holcomb and Tichina Arnold, all writing and riffing material on the spot in our NY office!) and pumped out over Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram and Vine.

Check out this Storify of all the content we created on the night

How we did it

We used the Unity game engine to create the puppet system. This allowed us, with use of Xbox controllers and microphones, to control all aspects of the character’s movement, as well as making them speak in real-time. We created each character’s animation tree in Maya in advance and there were actually over 600 variants per character, which meant a significant level of new pipeline creation to allow us to animate in Maya and export to Unity using the same rig.

For the actual night of the VMAs we were crammed into an office with the Beats social media team, the comedians, our puppetting machine and a Blackmagic capture set-up we produced all the content you cam see above. The comedians would write and record the live voice-over, and Framestore would puppet the characters for them via the Xbox controllers, then instantly upload it.

The last piece of this epic jigsaw, were the paparazzi. We’ve hired a few different types of freelancer for projects in my time, but this might be the weirdest yet! “They were on the red carpet at the actual awards show in Brooklyn, in an official capacity, so that we could get fairly instant images of celebs arriving. We were getting the images to Framestore within 10 seconds, allowing us to do stuff like this.

The other key part of the team on the night were our After Effects and Photoshop wizards. These guys had some serious pressure to turn around the captured content, in the correct format, and then upload directly to all the Beats accounts.

McLAREN Tooned 50

teaser_03_cropbruce_mclaren_story_07Emerson_promostill_01 ep05preview_01tooned_senna_002 IMG_6553

After the success of last year’s series we’re working with McLaren again on another run of Tooned, this time for the F1 brand’s 50th anniversary.

We wrote the scripts, designed the characters, directed and animated the series, which is being shown on Sky Sports before each Grand Prix, as well as working as one long episode.

We also sourced the vocal talent, which includes Alexander Armstrong, the one and only Brian Cox (well, except this Brian Cox, not that one) and a host of F1 royalty, past and present.

Here’s what we’ve seen so far, plus the making of. Plenty more info over on the Framestore website too, and there’s a Storify of us taking the mascots to Goodwood here.

Making of

The Art of Tooned

CCI IDENTS – Create & Play

In our latest project for out-of-home global advertisers Clear Channel International we were asked to create idents for their two sub-brands, ‘Create’ and ‘Play’. Create is responsible for CCI’s bespoke, tailor-made outdoor advertising campaigns; ‘from paper to pixels’, and Play is their premium digital media portfolio. Working directly with the client, we designed and directed these in-house using Maya and After Effects.

As Clear Channel International operates in over 30 countries with each division making their own videos, the idents will be used to add consistency to the brand’s films worldwide. They are part of the CCI website launch that includes the ‘Where Brands Meet People’ film that we originally created for one of the company’s internal conferences.

BRITISH AIRWAYS “Taxi” Application

A Boeing 777-200 makes its way across Westminster Bridge

Don't fly, support Team GB

Framestore  worked with BBH London on British Airways’ Olympic campaign. A lot of work went into animating a Boeing 777-200, making sure it could taxi through London’s streets unimpeded and, hundreds of digitally felled trees and lampposts later, we had a great little spot (watch below) imploring people to support Team GB.

Framestore’s Digital department  also made the App that lets users see a plane taxi down their own street by pulling data from Google Street View. It had 1.5 million unique users in its first month and it’s now hit more than 3 million unique visits (that’s enough people to fill more than 8,000 Boeing 777-200s).  Have a go yourself here.

McLAREN Tooned

Jenson button and Lewis Hamilton in Tooned

Jenson Button get's on the wrong side of some McLaren technology

The Tooned logo on Lewis Hamilton's rear wing

We’ve been spending a lot of time on Tooned, our partnership with McLaren, recently. The three-minute episodes star the voices of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button along with Alexander Armstrong as Professor M, an impatient Q-from-James-Bond style scientist.

We didn’t just create the animation here at Framestore, we did the whole thing. The shorts have all been written, produced and directed in-house, even the mascots you can see wandering around the grand prix were made by our Production Department.

It came all from a chance meeting but it’s grown into a cartoon series that aims to recast the way people view McLaren. As their executive chairman Ron Dennis says “Motor racing can come across as quite cold and scientific, and at McLaren we’ve probably been accused of lacking humour in the past. But a lot of humour exists in F1, so this is about putting smiles on people’s faces.” It’s even ended up on Lewis Hamilton’s (Hungarian Grand Prix-winning) rear wing.

There will be 12 episodes in total (we’re currently at number three), broadcast before each grand prix this season at around 11:45am on Sky Sports F1 in the UK. Just nine more episodes to make before November…easy.

SECRET CINEMA – Prometheus

Framestore Digital's Interactive medical scanner for Secret cinema

The boiler-suited Secret Cinema staff order cinema goers to line up

A still of DNA from Framestore's VFX for Secret Cinema

Cinema-goers go into hypersleep

This summer Secret Cinema invited thousands of people to watch a movie without knowing what it was beforehand, meeting at a tube station and being led (in costume) to a secret venue where they then participated in a show based on that night’s film. The cinema-goers didn’t just watch – they took part.

It’s not a secret any longer so we can talk about what we did for their showing of Prometheus (which took an impressive 3% of the film’s UK box office takings), we ran with the sci-fi theme and made a medical-style X-ray scanner that used Xbox 360 Kinect cameras to sense peoples movement.

We also helped create the landing films, a giant movie wallpaper and 3D maps based on ground plans of the event’s secret location. What we’re most proud of is that our visual effects helped to blur the lines between the passive experience of watching and the active experience of taking part.