MPC builds a rockstar kitty for Three Mobile

MPC’s VFX team developed and animated a digital double of Bronte the cat, complete with skeleton, muscle structure, luxurious fur and a very special talent for belting out Starship’s “We Built This City” as his young owner cycles round the neighbourhood.Three-Sing-It-Kitty-60sec_still12
Bronte, riding in his bike basket, is one of the stars of Three’s brand message of ‘Silly Stuff. It matters’, directed by Traktor and conceived by W+K London. Traktor, the filmaking collective, released this statement: “The commercial was a chamber-piece that had some epic challenges in the shape of a Pint-sized fan of Starship. We built this Kitty, indeed. Our hope was that it was going to look effortless despite the obvious efforts that must, somehow, have gone into it. Realism was not really our main aim (although it does look real) as the moment it sings, that is a moot point. We wanted emotion, and MPC provided that in droves.”
A real cat, Bronte, was cast from a litter of rare flat-faced kittens, selected based on his colouring and relaxed personality. MPC’s 3D team elected to cast the cat ahead of developing a digital double of Bronte for the final spot, in order to have the perfect reference for his movement and look.


“We collaborated closely with Traktor and W+K on developing Bronte’s personality to bring him to life,” said MPC’s VFX Supervisor Bill McNamara. “Working on his movement and attitude, we help his confidence grow from a shy little kitten to a full-blown performer belting out the lyrics. His eyes were key to his charisma and our animators developed the expressions to get some real emotion in his performance.”
The first step for the 3D team was to develop a detailed model of Bronte using Maya and ZBrush. A rig was then put in place, setting up the bone structure and muscle systems. As the real Bronte has fur with substantial depth, the team studied the hairless Sphynx breed joints, as their shoulder blades and wrists can be easily seen. Luckily Bronte enjoyed a regular bath, as his anatomy was much easier to study when wet.
During the shoot, the VFX team were on hand to capture lighting conditions and measurements to be replicated later in the studio. A 3D model of the entire environment was re-created, to ensure all the conditions of the shoot were replicated before Bronte was composited into the shots using Nuke.Three-Sing-It-Kitty-60sec_still2
MPC used proprietary software tool Furtility to develop Bronte’s fur, perfectly capturing the dynamics and depth of the real cat. The animation stage saw MPC working with W+K London and Traktor to film an actor singing lyrics, and the mouth movements were then applied to Bronte. A team of animators also used reference of cats yawning and snarling to develop the perfect singing feline.

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See more by MPC on Fired By Design
MPC has posted a ‘Making Of’ video on Vimeo

Agency: W+K London
Agency Producer: Lou Hake
Creatives: Luke Tipping, Chris Lapham and Aaron McGurk
Production Company: Partizan
Director: Traktor
Production Company Producer: David Stewart
DOP: Tim Morris Jones
Editor: Rick Russell @ Final Cut
VFX Producer: Chris Allen
VFX Supervisor: Bill McNamara
3D Supervisor: Anthony Bloor
3D Creative Director: Jake Mengers
Shoot Supervisors: Michael Gregory, Tim Van Hussen and Fabian Frank
Grade: MPC
Colourist: Jean-Clément Soret

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