About the animation of a bee and a child with a big head from a production point of view.

Modelling and animation of a character. Reference video, animatics and animation for dubbing. Tracking the scenography for implementation of a 3D character in natural light.

The idea of creating characters as the representatives of a brand is being rediscovered. When a brand needs its brand heroes to communicate with its consumers, the agencies are tasked with designing ‘mascots’ that will withstand the passage of time.
We created a pair of heroes for SmartBee. A cartoon girl and bee with human attributes act as hosts in almost every aspect of communication: from commercial spots, through printed materials, to an application. How did the production process look?

Beebox - OMI Media House

First, we summarised the brand’s characteristics and divided them into two groups: children and parents. We created concept art drawings that let us define not only the look of the characters but also their personalities.

Based on the illustrations, we build both models in a standard process with future character animation in mind. Sculptured models were anatomically and physically constructed like real humans (well, maybe except the wings and antennae). Some parts’ proportions were intentionally exaggerated — our brand heroes were to be designed in a cartoon style.

render pszczoły - OMI Media House

The reference for the 3D team was Merida the Brave from Pixar studio and her fiery locks. The expression of movement and proportions were adopted from Vanellope von Schweetz. The bee was not based on any character — here, we set the standard ourselves.

render postaci - OMI Media House

For a better understanding of relation, mass and movement expression of the characters, we organised a reference recording in a studio, where two actors with stage experience played out the scenes for commercial spots. The cartoony style of the characters did not allow an adaptation of a classic motion picture. That is why we limited ourselves to gesture analysis.

spot reklamowy - OMI Media House

aktorzy w animacji - OMI Media House

We revised types of shots already on the animatics stage: close-ups, full shots, camera movement. The inertia of mass during flight had to be taken under consideration in the case of the bee model. On the other hand, the girl’s physicality needed to be a little made-up because of her big head and wild curls.
We analysed the actors’ facial expressions thanks to the markers on their faces. They enabled a partial mapping of the facial muscles’ movement and synchronisation (lip-sync) to dubbing.

mimika twarzy w animacji - OMI Media House

We were thinking about close-ups during texturizing, which is why the textures were made with great detail. The skin and hair are photorealistic to a high degree. To make them look real, we gave them adequate light permeability parameters thanks to Subsurface Scattering (SSS).

render w animacji - OMI Media House

The concept of SmartBee Club brand was that of connecting the virtual and real worlds in Augmented Reality (AR) application. Following that idea, we chose to embed our characters in actual video material. In locations, we designed scenography so the viewer would have the impression that the scenes with characters are happening on a kitchen table, a child’s desk or on an armchair — in a realistic scenery.

kulisy produkcji - OMI Media House
kulisy producji filmowej- OMI Media House

To correctly implement 3D characters, we used a mirror ball during the shooting to create a lightmap. Thanks to that, we were able to precisely recreate the softness and direction of light affecting our objects.

modelowanie postaci - OMI Media House

A well-planned scenography provided a comfortable space tracking in the video in SynthEyes. The more significant the number of contrastive points in the scene, the easier the camera tracking for the character. The shots were filmed without a stand to improve their realism. The operator deliberately did not correct natural shocks and a subtle ‘swimming’ of the camera.

Our conclusions are always the same: you can perfect the production indefinitely, and your only limit is the time and budget. Still, such complex tasks make our team rise to the challenge. The process and dependencies between stages require planning already in the modelling stage so that no errors appear in the animations (such as stabbing trachea with hair).