Images courtesy of Framestore

Look behind the scenes of the 'Framestore Zoo'

An Instagram Takeover

Last modification: 22 Feb, 2018
5 mins

"We believe that creating iconic characters is way more than just moving images and keyframes. It’s about designing a loveable character, breathing life into it and then giving it a voice and integrity." 

– David Hulin, Animation Director, Framestore, New York

This article originated as an Instagram Takeover.

Welcome to the @framestore Zoo! Our award-winning creative studio recently put together a menagerie of our finest characters over the years, as seen here in the New York office. We are pleased to showcase some of them here, as well as snippets of the huge amount of development work that goes into each and every creature that walks out of our doors.

Framestore Studios

Dobby the House Elf

The making of Harry Potter's faithful companion, Dobby the house elf, rigged and animated in Maya. Keyframe animated rather than acted through mo-cap, the elf underwent some humanizing tweaks for "Deathly Hallows Part One," maximizing the emotional connection the audience is able to make with the character. 

Harry Potter's Dobby the House Elf WIP, rigged and animated in Autodesk Maya

The Tale of Three Brothers

Our Integrated Advertising division worked on The Tale of Three Brothers, the grainy, sepia-infused animated sequence seen in "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows." The work was inspired by Oriental shadow puppetry - the mysterious character loom and swim into view, in an eerie mix of silhouette and shadows. The piece was a compositor's dream - technical, challenging, with an ever-evolving creative process. 

Still from Harry Potter's The Tale of Three Brothers

Geico Gecko

Bringing the Geico Gecko to life for @martinagency has required a lot of effort from our team over the years. Across over 100 commercials, we've seen him laugh, eat, dance, play sports, and so much more! Our CG process starts with scripts, a brainstorm, and some R&D. We then integrate live-action elements before the character animation process. Animation Director David Hulin has seen the Gecko through many challenges and campaigns, as he has grown into the cute, vibrant personality he is today. 

Gecko from Geico's ads

Cow Character for Lactaid

We worked with BBDO to craft the perfect cow character for Lactaid. Our own John Montefusco, CG Lead on the project, couldn't get enough of her adorable face: "The most fun part was working with the clients to create a sweet, trustworthy, and adorable face for their brand - one that the viewers would fall in love with, just as we did. One of the most challenging parts was her hairstyle. We went through multiple iterations of beehives, long lengths, faux-hawks for a bit of fun, and ended up with a take on the typical cow tuft, which I think makes her feel both classy and sweet."

Cow Character for Lactaid's ad campaign WIP

Sour Patch Kids

Creating fully CG gummy characters with a dark side was something we loved working on. Mother NY asked that we bring the Sour Patch Kids to life more than ever before. We added small embellishments like raised eyebrows, blinks, and subtleties in movements, all of which added up to create characters with serious personality.

Sour Patch Kids gummy characters

Beats "Pill"

Initial sketches of the Beats "Pill." We directed, produced and animated the first spot for Beats back in 2013, working with R/GA. "There was a lot of debate as to how to bring the Pill to life, how real it needed to be - is it a little human? Is it a toy?," says writer Chris Waitt. We'll settle for a little bit of both? Character sketches by Ian Spendloff, in our London Design team.

Sketches for Beats' "Pill" character

We worked with Beats and R/GA again to create the "Introducing the Pills" spot for the VMAs, featuring the voices of Eminem, Chris Rock, Tichina Arnold and Corey Holcomb. "It was an exciting project for us. The Pills are not your average product mascot - they have a life of their own. Unpredictable misfits who aren't afraid to say what they think" says Creative Director Ben West.

Beats Pills

Nature Valley

This cute creature was recently made for @nature_valley. Ben Fox, @framestore CG Supervisor on the job, revamped the CG "fur" using a squirrel from a previous project: "While we were very happy with the final look of the character, it came at the cost of some very long render times. We needed to be extra careful to check our render submissions before they went to the farm, to make sure they would look great 10 hours later."

Squirrel from Nature Valley ad

"Tooned 50"

We reunited with @McLaren for "Tooned 50," an extension of our original "Tooned" series telling the story of the historic F1 motoring powerhouse. Here, initial character work for Bruce McLaren himself, by @framestore Design department character specialists.

Character sketches for Bruce McLaren, Tooned 50

Paddington Bear

Please look after this bear! These early concept sketches for Paddington were the start of a great deal of design work, refining and finessing the character for his 2014 release. "From the Peggy Fortnum illustrations to the 1970s BBC series, there are a lot of looks for Paddington, and everyone has their favorite; we spent a lot of time on the design before we found something that hit the mark," said Andy Kind, @framestoreVFX Supervisor.

Paddington Bear character sketches


The making of a space raccoon. Rocket, from Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy," shown here in the mid-stages of animation, was one of our most central cinematic characters to date. Our Creature FX team had their hands full recreating each of the millions of CG hairs that make up his fur. His coat then needed to interact with various costumes in the film, which pushed the team's simulation skills to the max.

Rocket from Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" in mid-stages of animation


A huge thanks to Framestore for sharing some cool work! We hope you all enjoyed this Takeover!

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