MPC Advertising in London pulled out all the stops to produce an instant classic holiday advertisement for the venerable John Lewis retail chain. The ad features two minutes of foxes, a badger, a squirrel, a hedgehog and a dog, and was one of the biggest challenges MPC Advertising have ever taken on. It was a massive effort where everyone poured a lot of love into.
There were six photo-real creatures, plus a surpassingly complicated trampoline that the team ended up calling “the seventh animal”. Except a few of the real dog shots, every animal was rendered in Arnold via MtoA, using MPC’s custom fur suite ‘Furtility'.
The trampoline was a system built in Houdini that would simulate each animal’s interaction on the surface membrane and ripple up through the poles and safety netting. Houdini Engine then showed it back in Maya so the animators could get feedback, and for most of the shots the team ended up rendering the surface of the trampoline as curves to get the specular highlights to match the woven material on set. Most of what you see on screen is just loads and loads of rendered curves.
Of course the animals are the real stars and the team at MPC brought them to life with tremendous heart. The animals had a full muscle system and skin sliding to really get a nice movement going in such extreme movements. The final fur dynamics were also Houdini sims that were passed back to Maya for the final lighting and render.
Read more in MPC's own article about the ad here.