‘Paddington and The Christmas Visitor’ was a true labour of love for Framestore, and a triumph of creative collaboration. Supported throughout both shoot and production by director Daniel Kleinman and the team at Rattling Stick, with whom the company has frequently partnered to turn out stellar advertising creative, Paddington’s commercial foray proved a fine opportunity to showcase the talent of Framestore’s many skilled Integrated Advertising VFX artists.
For the company overall, the work demonstrated the versatility of two divisions in amplifying the impact of one much-loved property; bringing a bear with serious heritage to television audiences and cinema-goers alike.
Framestore and Paddington are, of course, old friends - Framestore’s Film division having worked extensively on the bear’s first picture in 2014. Translating Michael Bond’s character to a 90-second advertising setting was something entirely new, and called on the talent of over 75 artists across the Integrated Advertising division to land the campaign narrative.
The VFX team was acutely aware of the weight of responsibility in working with a character so imbued with emotion, tightly tied as he is to childhood memory. Eager to pay dues to Kleinman’s vision and have the campaign sit seamlessly between Paddington’s two movies, Framestore’s Advertising team worked hand-in-hand with the Film division, as well as previsualisation partners The Third Floor, to fulfil its brief. The result would be the ultimate demonstration of the company’s vast lateral creative scope.
The Paddington asset was baton-passed from Film to Advertising at a near-finalised stage. Framestore’s Geraint Wright led the team in hand animating the many nuances of his star performance, with input from Film Animation Director Pablo Grillo.
Practised in crafting creatures with emotional nous, Framestore’s artists were well-equipped to uphold this bear’s reputation as a bit of a heartbreaker. The film’s dramatic turn - and the most technically intricate shot of the piece - in which the foiled ‘Father Christmas’ embraces Paddington, saw the team perfect a seamless digi-double to matchmove the burglar, in order to painstakingly dramatise the emotional pull of this iconic character.
Framestore’s Effects artists were key in adding sparkle to the story: responsible for the many festive CG assets which decorate the ad’s shots, and the array of difficult interactions between furry creature and snowy scenes. Down to the types of snow created, and the ‘behaviour’ of each snowflake in such effects, every element of Framestore’s VFX contributed to an overarching love for magical narrative.
Environment work also fell under Framestore’s spell, with many of the film’s 45 shots extended; digital matte paintings helping to place the action in a suitably festive location that would best serve the story. Of that total too, only two shots remained fully live action, demonstrating the incredible weight of the VFX produced by Framestore in only twelve weeks of production.
The campaign was a great success for M&S: now approaching 7m views on YouTube, rated top advertising pick by titles including Campaign and AdWeek upon launch, and named best creative of the season by Thinkbox Academy.