John McNeil Studio unfolds a world of possibilities in this new Intel ad
California-based creative agency John McNeil Studio has created this unfolding world to show how Intel users can create, enjoy and explore new things on their PC. The studio first heard about the project when they were approached by marketing agency Razorfish about a concept it was pitching to Intel – an origami-style animation highlighting the flexibility of Intel-powered laptops.
The studio’s Motion and Image group took the reigns and started the pre-production process. Director Brandon Kuchta explains, “We initially did a test animation that helped push the idea through, and allowed us to sort out the pipeline we’d use for the final animations. The scripts changed a few times before we went into production, but once they solidified we had a great foundation from which to begin storyboarding. The schedule called for eight weeks from the start of storyboarding to final delivery.” The Motion and Image group was responsible for all of the visual elements in the animations, starting with scripts, storyboarding, look development, animation, final rendering and compositing. The team also delivered four animated vignettes, a still image for the landing page and a few other elements to help with the interactive experience.
Watch the ad and make sure you click on the revolving origami fortune teller at the end to see other animations
The main bulk of the Unfold spot was created using a combination of 3D software. “We did all the modeling in modo,” says Kuchta. “The rigging, scene layout and animation was done in Maya, as well as some simulation. Once we had approved animation, we baked everything out using Point Oven and imported the data into modo. We stayed in modo the rest of the way, using it for all the lighting, texturing and final rendering.”
But it was Point Oven that proved to be most valuable on this project. “Maya was great for the character animation, modo was the perfect choice for modeling and rendering,” Kuchta explains. “But Point Oven is the software that connected those two applications, and allowed us to use the right software for the right purpose. We were very happy with how stable and reliable Point Oven was for us.”
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing and, as in most animated productions, render times were an issue. “The most technical part of this project by far was our render farm,” says Kuchta. “We knew we’d have to do a lot of rendering in a very short period of time, and would need more horsepower than we have in-house. Most small studios have render farms with less than 10 nodes and that wouldn’t cut it with our timeline. To make sure we were ready when the render crunch hit, we built a custom render manager that utilized Amazon’s EC2 platform and ultimately allowed us to fire up 300 nodes for rendering on demand. This let us to go from animation approval to final renders in about a week – running our render farm for about 9,000 total hours during that period.”