The red and yellow M&M mascots sit back to back with their hands tied


From the archives: A history of the sweet working relationship between Framestore and the mighty M&M's. This animation adventure has spanned commercials of all shapes and sizes, including detours via America's Super Bowl and Hollywood movie tie-ins. Starting with our most recent foray, read Framestore's long-standing history with the brand below.

red and yellow m&ms sitting on a coffee table
red and yellow m&ms sitting on a coffee table as rain pours down on them

'Rainy Day', 2016

Framestore found themselves in the midst of a superhero drama, as the M&M's land in Charles Xavier's library for the X-Men movie tie-in ‘Rainy Day’. Having worked with Red and Yellow before, Hulin and his team knew the exact animation beats to hit in order to get the funniest performance from the comedic duo. The crew also had to create interactive CG rain hitting them as they delivered their lines.

Said David Hulin, Director of Animation on the spot: ‘I love these characters. They are always really fun to work with, and the spots are very memorable. Our collaboration with the Mars brand is always interesting - we recently set up a real-time animation system to enable them to produce large amounts of content for them with a fast turnaround. In this instance however, it was nice to be able to craft the animation by hand, and make something worthy of a blockbuster franchise’.

cg animated yellow m&m pointing at a conveyor belt full of peanuts

'Conveyor', 2014

Working with BBDO New York, Framestore took 'Conveyor', all the way from start to finish, concepting and creating the giant peanut sorting department that finds the lucky one-in-100 peanuts that become M&M's.

With our storyboards drawn (see below) director David Hulin and our production team swiftly put together a seamless shoot, before we animated Yellow and extended the factory back in our New York studio.

"I really love working with the big name brand icons" says David. "When I direct the shoot and then animation-direct the characters it allows me to have a little more creative input and hopefully take some of the worry off of our client’s plate. The M&M’s account is another great example of clever people working together to make quality work."

storyboard sketch of a yellow m&m working on a conveyor belt with two people nearby
cg animated yellow m&m pointing at a conveyor belt full of peanuts

On set Framestore made sure everything was set up perfectly to get the most out of our CG character, and give maximum control to art direct the spot in post. The team also came up with ways to visualise how the ad would eventually look during production.

'The CG and comp team at Framestore are the best in the world!I love how quickly we were able to create the fictional "peanut-sorting department" and bring an advertising legend to life', adds David. 'Although after that shoot I will never eat another peanut ever again… except inside an M&M.'

cg animated ms. brown chocolate m&m holding her glasses with a stern expression

'15 Minutes', 2014

Continuing Framestore's long-standing collaboration with both BBDO NY and The Martin Agency, we brought two much-loved advertising icons together – an old friend in the GEICO Gecko and a new one in the Brown M&M.

'We'd spoken about M&M's work when we first met senior BBDO executives at our launch party when we opened the New York office back in 2004. Coming from an animation background it was the kind of work that I set my sights on, both as an account that produced such great work and also something that would provide a challenge for our amazing animation team here in NY', explains Creative Director David Hulin. 'Over the last decade we have collaborated with BBDO on some incredible campaigns for Pepsi, Fedex and GE which I think earned us the relationship and trust to be asked to be a part of this legendary group of animated characters.'

'BBDO and Framestore had worked together on past M&M's campaigns, but this was the first opportunity for us to create one of the iconic M&M’s characters for the first time. The New York team is accustomed to having their animated performance carry a 30-second spot, but had the additional pressure of hosting both characters representing two separate brands. Managing two different brand icons brought its challenges - we needed to explore how they interact with one another and figure out how the different styles of animation and 'look' would integrate.'

cg animated geico gecko
cg animated geico gecko and chocolate m&m having a discussion at an office desk as the window overlooks cityscapes

'It’s the sort of intensive animation VFX job that we all love', said CG Supervisor James Dick. 'We had to seamlessly match the existing M&M character, so we meticulously studied all the existing brand equity for the M&Ms from the past 20 years, then worked on our own visual style that would be complemented by the Gecko to find a look that played off of both their strengths.'

The spot involves a long look at Ms. Brown, and as Animation Lead Jim Hundertmark describes, 'we went the extra mile to make her feel perfectly integrated into the office environment. We needed to keep her well-defined surly, take-no-prisoners persona throughout a long take. We studied an extensive amount of material to get inside Ms. Browns "head"! It was fun creating some awkward tension for our famous lizard friend to see him maintain his consummate professionalism. We had a blast!'

'We spent a lot of creative time making sure Ms. Brown matched existing material, but we wanted to make her feel more tangible', says Technical Director John Montefusco. 'I think we helped her become more believable and appealing. You almost want to chip off a bit!'

perspective from inside of a car as actors are looking inside set in nighttime
a wolf in between trees in a forest set in nighttime

'The Delivery', 2014

Traktor and BBDO NY came straight back to Framestore to get the seamless VFX and premium finishing that they demand for this year's M&M's Super Bowl commercial, 'Dostavka' ('Delivery'). Although the Yellow M&M was animated for this spot by Laika, nearly every shot in the commercial was touched by Framestore, including the newly designed end tag.

;As with most live action shoots of this magnitude, there are always little things that aren't feasible to get exactly right on the day', says Framestore Creative Director David Hulin. 'Between the day-for-night effects and matte painting, compositing work and completely seamless CG integration we were able to help realize the spot exactly as the director and agency creatives envisaged. We were really happy to be a part of such a beautiful and hilarious spot and we're really happy so many people will see it during the Super Bowl!'

'The work we did is the kind that people respond to with "I didn't realise there were any effects on that spot" - they may not realise that all the footage was shot day for night', says Flame Artist Mindy Dubin. 'That meant all the car shots needed headlight and taillights that interact with the environment. We also created matte paintings and projection mapped them to the mountains to make the roads feel more snow-filled and ominous.'

This M&M's Super Bowl commercial iswasone of five campaigns that Framestore contributed to in 2014's prestigious Super Bowl ad breaks, including spots for Ford, T-Mobile, GoDaddy and Sprint.

cg animated yellow m&m on top of the red m&m at the beach as a persons legs are peaking

'Wish', 2011

M&M's 'Wish' sees Red and Yellow appearing on a desert island as part of a Genie's wish. Traktor asked us to create a smoke trail for the genie, along with all of the rig removal and set creation.

The desert island was dressed on a back-lot in LA, this was then combined with live action plates shot in the Caribbean. VFX supervisor, Murray Butler, joined the small crew searching for seas that would match perfectly. The Genie's smoky tail was created as a particle simulation in Houdini. Lead Flame Artist, Raul Ortego then finished the comp work.

Framestore worked in conjunction with Laika Studios, who handled the character animation.

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