Little Black Book – March 9, 2018

Carbon animators brought the new cornerstone paper and packaging characters for the national marketing campaign Paper & Packaging – How Life Unfolds® to life just in time for their launch in February. The new campaign creative, developed in conjunction with integrated marketing and communications agency, Cramer-Krasselt (CK), for client, the Paper and Packaging Board, includes two :30 TV commercials and five self-directed fully CG films designed specifically for social media, and several print ads. These characters, a corrugated box and a ream of paper, highlight the authentic properties and value of paper and paper-based products in everyday life.

To ensure these characters looked, acted and felt real, Carbon filmed scenes that aligned to initial scripts and used lighting and tracking information to put the characters into their respective environments before creating the detailed animation tests that gave each character its own distinct and memorable personality. These early tests ultimately set the look for character behavior and helped the client and agency understand everything from range of movement and physicality to the potential for emotional expression, helping inform the characters’ personalities even before the storyboards and scripts were finalized.

“It was immediately clear to everyone involved that these characters were not cartoons,” says Carbon Chicago’s Managing Director, Phil Linturn. “We were tasked with creating 100 percent believable characters that genuinely belonged in a variety of scenarios where paper and packaging naturally exist and who were subject to the real-world physics and lighting as if captured in-camera.”

“Our characters needed to look and react authentically, staying true to their materials, but they have fixed facial features and don’t speak to express themselves,” noted Jim Root, vice president, creative director at Cramer-Krasselt “Carbon’s characters surprised us round after round with unexpected moments of humanity. Even the subtlest movements communicated so clearly. We are so proud of how these characters turned out and look forward to what we can do with them next.”

Sister companies Carbon and Whitehouse worked together from edit through animation, lighting, rendering, composite and color, all on the same floor of their offices in Chicago. Whitehouse Post editor, Matthew Wood, created parallel edits, layering the puppeteering footage over the plates to be used in the final film. Overlapping the edits allowed everyone to understand the timing of the spots before the edits were locked and the animation began. Carbon’s team of animators provided a stream of rough animation updates, making the feedback process faster and more efficient. Once edit was locked, the animation style formed by the initial tests was refined and rendered using lighting references from set to create the final photo-real character animations. Finally, Nuke and Flame compositors, part of the Carbon team, worked closely with CGI and color to ensure that these characters truly occupied each real-world scenario.