To help define the stunning full-CG that went into the animated storybook sequences of David E. Talbert’s new Christmas film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, Framestore enlisted the help of FPS, its newly formed in-house pre-production services team. FPS previsualised all of the sequences so shot composition could be signed off ahead of final asset delivery, creating a faster and more efficient process of creative development and project schedule.
Jingle Jangle is one of FPS’ first feature film projects after its official launch in January 2020 and was overseen by creative director of visualisation Vincent Aupetit. While the CG team, led by Ian Spendloff, Tim Jenkinson and Johannes Sambs, were working on the creation of the project’s visual language, the previs was created and used to define the action and blocking of the sequences as well as the mechanics that would be deployed during final production.
Creating previsualisations of the sequences allowed the teams to quickly iterate on different ideas and concepts; a key benefit of deploying pre-production services on any project. And not only does it remove the need to invest time and resources just to try out ideas, it also removes any potential technical or story-related roadblocks from appearing further into the project’s delivery.
Because the fully-CG sequences were so integral to the film’s overall narrative, it was important to produce a high level of detail and visual fidelity in the previs to allow the team to get a feel for the sequences. And because the FPS team completed the work within the wider Framestore pipeline, the assets were much more than references and instead gave the team a basis on which to bring their storybook world to life.
Talking about the partnership, Ian Spendloff said; ‘I had storyboarded and edited all of the sequences, but things really opened up when FPS came on board. It was great being able to work with them to figure out how to get from one set up to another in interesting and fluid ways.’
One of the major considerations on this project was that while it was all built in CG, everything needed to look and feel like a physical storybook world populated by wooden toys. This was the case even at the previsualisation stage, meaning the team had to make sure that all the virtual camera movements were ones that could be legitimately done by a camera shooting live action models on a miniature stage.
‘This project perfectly demonstrates the technical aspects of pre-production rather than a means of just blocking out animation,’ said Vincent Aupetit. ‘We were able to not only plan out the action but also define the virtual cameras and lenses, their use and their movements - all of which is invaluable information and tangible data used by the final delivery team.’
‘I think it's fair to say that technology and creativity have never been more entwined and Jingle Jangle exemplifies this entirely,’ said Alex Webster, Managing Director of FPS. ‘It’s a perfect example of how previs can be used to explore complex and emotive narrative sequences early in the creative process and to help inform meaningful decisions which can carry through an entire production. The final sequences are not just visually stunning but also have a huge narrative and emotional impact and I’m thrilled with how much of our thumbprint is visible in the final film.’
As well as the CG sequences, Framestore also delivered the animation and VFX for film's main live action narrative.