ESB Advertising approached Pixeldust with the task of animating a CGI squirrel host for a 5-part commercial series for Long Fence. The squirrel had to look photoreal with fur and had to be seamlessly integrated into live action footage of their actual installed products on site. Pixeldust explored numerous looks for “Nutz” the squirrel during the initial character design phase, while simultaneously working on storyboards for the commercials. The “Nutz” squirrel 3D model, rig, and fur were created using Autodesk Maya, and Redshift was the render of choice to achieve the photoreal fur.
Creative Director: Ricardo Andrade
Senior Animator: Andy Hencken
CG Supervisor: Samar Shool
Senior Producer: Emily Vitek
Initial process also involved blocking of all the animation using Maya playblasts and rudimentary tracking for some of the shots using Nuke. Initial animation tests were done to experiment with the look and feel and motion of the squirrel.
Pixeldust’s artists used 4K 360 HDR’s with high dynamic ranges shot on location for realistic lighting inside Maya. For final compositing, Foundry Nuke was the software of choice for its industry standard hi definition pipeline. For some shots, nukes’ efficient tracking abilities came in handy to anchor the squirrel on furniture, decks, and railings.