How the TSB bank commercial was made

Mega UK bank Lloyds TSB was recently forced to split into two as part of the EU bank bailout deal. We've already told you about how Lloyds launched its new brand, while TSB have launched this brilliant animation. It was created by multi BAFTA-winning animation agency Studio AKA, who developed a beautiful mixture of 2D character animation and 3D CGI sets.

The team first became involved with the project when Damon Collins, from creative agency Joint, approached them with the idea of creating a cinematic and emotionally engaging film for TSB. Studio aka’s Marc Craste co-wrote the script with Joint, then worked closely with the entire team at AKA to deliver the film from storyboard to final master.

The cinematic and emotionally engaging film for TSB is centred around its founder Henry Duncan, and its subsequent history up to the present day

Super software

To create the charming animation, the team utilised a variety of sofware, including their own. "We mostly used Softimage 2013 for 3D animation, lighting and rendering," explains CG artist Christian Mills.

"We began the project with a line-up of about 40 characters, which were rigged with our in-house proprietary tool, thus making the whole process possible and enabling us to transfer animation and swap characters very easily.

We mostly used Softimage 2013 for 3D animation, lighting and rendering

"For this job, we also integrated some new software within our pipeline called TV Paint. We had an amazing crew of 2D animators set up camp at Studio AKA for around six weeks.

"Historically we’ve produced 2D animation with good old fashioned paper and pencils or with Photoshop animation layers, but in this case we needed a more robust and solid 2D solution.

"On the 3D side of things, ICE was essential for all the effects including the trees and all the water effects. For the second half of the film we created a rain and puddle ICE system that could be used in any shot."

Softimage's interactive creative environment (ICE) was used to create various effects, including rain, for the film

Mixing disciplines

In order to merge the 2D and 3D elements together seamlessly, the Studio AKA team organised an efficient and effective workflow. "We used the 3D characters to create a pre-visualisation of the whole film," Mills continues.

We used the 3D characters to create a pre-visualisation of the whole film

"This part of the process was crucial in order for us to gain client approval on the overall action and pace of the spot, and also secure any camera moves before the 2D animators began work.

"In some instances, a 3D animator would block out a 3D version of the character in the shot to help the animator keep consistent volume and perspective, enabling them to concentrate on bringing the character to life with flourishes."

The Studio AKA team used the 3D characters to create a pre-visualisation of the whole film

But the team still encountered some hurdles along the way. 3D generalist Cristobal Infante explains: "The most challenging aspect of the job was splitting all the scenes into different sections so the 3D animators could focus on a few characters at a time.

"At the same time, we needed to update the previz constantly, so we decided to use nested referenced models within Softimage, which was new technique for us but ended up being the perfect and most flexible solution for everyone. "

Words: Kerrie Hughes

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