Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf stands grinning

Have Your Elf a Merry Christmas

The Framestore team were excited to embrace this creative and technically challenging brief, which brings Buddy, from the beloved holiday classic Elf, into the nation’s living room for a charming and hilarious Asda Christmas campaign.

asda have your elf a merry christmas text logo

Integrating existing film footage into an all-new production represents considerable creative and technological challenges - especially when someone as well-known as Buddy is the hero character for the ad’s entire 90-second duration. 

Planning and preparation were key. An approved edit of selected Buddy takes enabled Framestore to analyse the shots and extract lens information and camera position/movement, providing vital data for the previsualisation phase and live action shoot. “We had to come up with a sound methodology of how to successfully merge 35mm colour corrected footage into the modern day material filmed on digital camera” said Framestore Creative Director Kamen Markov. “Given the unique nature of the project, this offered a great opportunity to flex our collective VFX experience and knowledge”.


A digital ASDA store was created by LIDAR scanning a real, bricks-and-mortar location, as well as an existing studio set. This allowed the creative team to scout their locations virtually and relative to Buddy’s performance, meaning the story could be engagingly told and that its logistical details - the preferred spaces for each scene; camera lenses and movement - could be effectively mapped. 

Buddy himself was skillfully extracted from the original film background, meaning he could be used in previs and also on set using mix and overlay, to line up his performance with the live-action environment and lighting. An on set body double was also used for eyeline reference, and to provide nuanced shadows and interactions which could be deftly incorporated into the final composite. VFX Supervisor Jules Janaud explained: “Being able to overlay the film footage and our rotoscoped Buddy was a huge help for action framing and being able to replicate the film lighting conditions on the contemporary set”.


Work then began to seamlessly integrate the original film footage and the new plates. Extensive and highly detailed rotoscoping work was applied to cut Buddy out of the original film. This included everything from rotoscoping fine hair detail (and rebuilding it where it was lost due to highlights) to keying out motion blur and the fluff of his costume. Careful match grading was incorporated early in the process to bring the modern world towards that of the original footage, handled by Steffan Perry of Company3, Framestore’s grading partners. Grain, chromatic aberration and physical film stock look were also applied to the plates shot on a digital camera. 

Beyond skillfully integrating Buddy the Elf into the Asda scenes, the VFX team were also tasked with digitally extending the studio set to give it the scale and feel of an ASDA store. Compositing Supervisor Ben Taylor explained: “We also created digital matte paintings to extend the snowy outside environment, and, of course, for that perfect Christmas finish, added a (digital) sprinkle of falling festive snow”.

‘Framestore’s attention to detail and support on this project was as ever, much appreciated by me.’
Danny Kleinman


Senior Director, Brand Communications & Marketing
Stephi Brett-Lee
Head of Campaigns
Rebecca Holmes
Campaign Manager
Amy Kennedy
Production Manager
Claire Ibbotson
Creative Agency
Havas London
Chief Creative Officer
Vicki Maguire
Chief Client Officer
James Fox
Creative Director
Dan Cole & Andy Garnett
Associate Creative Director
Rob Greaves & Sam Daly
Head of Production
Katie Keith
Head of Film
Louise Bonnar
Production Lead
Olivia Riddle
Senior Producer
Adam Henderson, Barney Ferguson
Rhy Hogan
Assistant Producer
Ella Myerscough-McClymont
Production Company
Rattling Stick
Daniel Kleinman
Executive Producer
Johnnie Frankel
Amy Appleton
Ben Smithard
Creative Director
Kamen Markov
VFX Supervisor
Jules Janaud
Compositing Supervisor
Ben Taylor
Kamen Markov, Ben Taylor, Sam Meisels, Alice Locuratolo, Ewelina Freuer, Jack Neale, Alessio Perico, Julia Caram, Juriaan Wolters, Lindsey Lo Presti, Simon Stoney & Joan Marques
Cedric Profjit & Henry South
Paul O'Brien
Adam Smith & Victoria Stuart
Micaela Arslanian & Oliver Cordwell
VFX Editorial
Humberto Reynaga & Micah McLeod
Basim Kadhim
Head of Advertising
Helen Weil
Executive Producer
Anna MacDonald
VFX Coordinators
Robyn Goncalves-Borrageiro, Chloe Dunn & Poppy Chadwick
Production Assistant
Bryony Murray
Data Services
Nick Rafferty, Ed Brown, Oluwaseun Adeleye & Asher Hunt
Lidar Scanning
Framestore Pre-Production Services
Production Manager (FPS)
Noah Ensus
Technical Director (FPS)
Harsh Baburajan
Company 3
Colourist (CO3)
Steffan Perry
Colour Assist (CO3)
Adam Stannard, Alex O'Brien & Santino Napolitano
Executive Producer (CO3)
Ellora Soret
The Third Floor
Managing Director (TTF)
Marcus Alexander
Visualisation Supervisor (TTF)
Andrew McCully
Line Producer (TTF)
Helen Langley
Previs Co-ordinator (TTF)
Anja Woller
Eve Ashwell @ The Assembly Rooms
Sam Ashwell @ 750
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