Sainsbury's: how Framestore brought Judith Kerr's Mog to life for her first-ever animated foray

Framestore took home the ‘TV and Cinema: single executive or campaign’ award at The Drum Dream Awards 2016 (now The Drum Creative Awards) for its Sainsbury’s Christmas campaign ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’. Here we look at how the creative studio brought Judith Kerr’s family favourite literary character to life for her first-ever animated foray.

Background

Creator Judith Kerr worked with Sainsbury’s to script the exclusive narrative for Mog in aid of Save the Children, highlighting literacy education and the joy of shared stories and fantastic tales. Working with AMV BBDO, Framestore’s creative journey ran from early character concept to the fully actualised idea.

Strategy

“Being able to work with a much-loved character like Mog was a real joy for us,” explained Framestore senior producer, Heather Kinal. “There’s a lot to consider with a literary character – we form strong attachments to them, particularly when we’re young, so a degree of sensitivity is needed.”

VFX supervisors, Ben Cronin and Grant Walker, and CG supervisor Ahmed Gharraph, led a broad team of artists to create Mog using Kerr’s original illustrations as the basis of the work. The team also worked with a huge library of cat pictures and videos on a dedicated reference machine for the job, as well as visiting Battersea Dogs and Cats Home for hands-on experience with some real-life Mogs.

In order to achieve the right ‘weightiness’ for Mog, Framestore pushed the typical CG rigging layers of skeleton and muscle to incorporate a ‘fat layer’ giving the character a more realistic feline movement. Finer analysis was needed to define facial expressions with director James Rouse bringing in actor Jeremy Swift to create references captured with a GoPro, bringing a relatable, human edge to the cat’s emotions.

Outcome

‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ achieved the accolade of the nation’s most love Christmas advert for 2015 with the wider campaign raising over £1.5m for Save the Children through associated merchandise. The three-minute long film, which debuted on TV screens in November 2015, also accrued upwards of 30m YouTube views.

“The big ‘Christmas ad’ has become such an anticipated event, and delivering work which is not only beautiful and charming, but supportive of a great cause like Save the Children, is a real achievement,” said Kinal. “We are thrilled to see people fall in love with Mog, and remember the brilliant books at the heart of this campaign.”

The Drum Creative Awards are currently open for entries, if you want to find out more visit the Creative Awards website.

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Gillian West

Gillian West is The Drum’s social media manager and works to ensure The Drum’s content reaches followers across platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram in an engaging, relevant and timely manner. Based in Glasgow, she has been actively involved in building The Drum’s Creative Works brand for over three years now and has interviewed major creative figures including Rankin, Peter Souter, Rosie Arnold, Bob Greenberg and Vicki Maguire. During her time at The Drum she has attended events such as Cannes Lions, the Edinburgh International TV Festival, Art Director’s Club Europe, D&AD and more.

All by Gillian