In times of rising energy prices, an increasing number of consumers is keeping a close eye on how efficient their household devices are and making sure not to waste electricity.
The happy-go-lucky mascot of the Thüringer Energie AG (TEAG) is different: He’s a slacker and doesn't care how much energy he wastes, leaves the refrigerator door open too long and dries his fur with not one but two blow dryers. He gets his electricity really cheap thanks to TEAG’s low rates and doesn’t have to worry about high electric bills anymore.
The bear had already been designed in 2D for a previously run print campaign. The 2D bear had a defined look and a single pose and had to be turned into a 3D character, which was just one of the challenges this project posed. The 3D model had to depict the bear in any pose and from any angle, whereas the 2D illustration only had to depict the character from the front and side – independent of each other.
It was also important to the client that the bear didn’t look threatening or intimidating but friendly and a little awkward with fluffy fur and big – but nowhere near dangerous – teeth. The team at Aixsponza used a front view of the print version of the bear as a reference for the 3D character to make sure that a consistent look was maintained throughout all campaign types. Especially the face, eyes and teeth had to be recreated very precisely in 3D.
A particular challenge was creating the bear’s fur. The creative team had to first find the right value for the number of guides. Too few guides won’t offer the necessary control when the fur is combed and too many will also cause problems because individual guides would always lie in the wrong position, which did not look good.
They started out with relatively few guides and added more manually as needed using the Add Guide Tool. This made it possible to simply vary the number of guides to achieve specific effects with the fur. They fine-tuned the fur using the Frizz, Kink and Clumping features. The Cinema 4D Viewport gave very fast feedback, which helped speed up the process immensely.
The Hair tool is fully integrated in Cinema 4D, which meant that the team at Aixsponza didn’t have to spend time importing or exporting files for the bear’s fur. A Wind object was added to the blow dryer meshes to simulate their air flow. This way their airflow always blew in the right direction when they were moved.
To make the workflow even more efficient, Aixsponza used multiple Hair objects on the bear’s mesh. This made it possible for several artists to work on the bear’s fur at once. This also sped up rendering since the 3D artists could hide all Hair objects for the body, arms and legs when they rendered close-ups of the bear’s head.
The Hair tools played a key role for the project, explains Achim August Tietz, partner and creative director at Aixsponza: “We found the Cinema 4D Hair tools to be very powerful, stable and highly expandable thanks to the tight integration with XPresso.”
The Advanced Biped template was used for the character object to rig and animate the bear. Pose Morphs were used to animate the bear’s facial expressions and the soft sofa pillows under the bear were animated manually. The environment through which the bear moves consists in part of live footage (bath, living room, kitchen) and the rest was modeled in 3D.
Cinema 4D’s comprehensive feature set made it Aixsponza’s software of choice for the TEAG advert. “The fast Viewport feedback and great connectivity of the Hair tools to external render engines were also very effective”, says Achim.