Christmas 2015 saw Judith Kerr’s family favourite literary character, Mog, reimagined in her first-ever animated foray. Framestore worked alongside creative agency AMV BBDO and Director James Rouse to deliver an emotive spot for the festive season, developing Mog from original illustration to star of the small screen in an exclusive narrative for Sainsbury’s, in aid of Save The Children.
From Book to Screen
The full three-minute film premiered across UK television channels in November 2015, and held an important cause at its core. Creator Judith Kerr worked with Sainsbury’s to script the exclusive narrative for Mog in aid of Save The Children, highlighting literacy education and the inherent joy of shared stories and fantastic tales. A true passion project from the start, Framestore was extremely proud to have worked on a character as iconic as Mog, re-imagining Kerr’s illustrations for the screen in a truly unique way. Framestore’s creative journey, embarked upon with Director James Rouse, took Mog from early concept to fully actualised character. ‘Being able to work with a much-loved character like Mog was a real joy for us’, said Senior Producer Heather Kinal. ‘There’s a lot to consider with a literary character – we form strong attachments to them, particularly when were young, so a degree of sensitivity is needed.’
VFX Supervisors Ben Cronin and Grant Walker, and CG Supervisor Ahmed Gharraph, led a broad team of artists to create Mog, a CG cat whose emotions are built on a careful combination of feline and human references. Judith Kerr’s original illustrations formed the base of the work, with concept drawings further refining the intensity and range of Mog’s expressions. The team also amassed a huge library of cat pictures and videos on a dedicated reference machine for the job, and paid a visit to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home to gain hands-on experience with real-life Mogs.
In order to achieve the right ‘weightiness’ for Mog’s character, Framestore pushed the typical CG rigging layers of skeleton and muscle to incorporate a ‘fat layer’, which would animate and deform to give her highly realistic feline movement. Finer analysis was needed to define Mog’s facial expressions. Director James Rouse and Framestore drafted in actor Jeremy Swift and rigged him with a GoPro to create references, as they sought to add a highly relatable, human edge to the cat’s emotions. Neither cartoon nor entirely photoreal, her readable face and expressive eyes work to highlight the story at the campaign’s heart, and the heart-warming tone of the ad.
The Xmas Factor
'Mog’s Christmas Calamity' exceeded all expectations, capturing the attention and hearts of the nation and achieving the accolade of the nation’s most loved Christmas advert for 2015. The wider campaign raised over £1.5million for Save The Children through its associated merchandise, and accrued upwards of 30million YouTube views. ‘The big “Christmas ad” has become such an anticipated event, and delivering work which is not only beautiful and charming, but supportive of a great cause like Save The Children, is a real achievement’, said Heather Kinal. ‘We were thrilled to see people fall in love with our Mog, and remember the brilliant books at the heart of this campaign’.
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