In creating the spot for the ‘Ultimate
Break’ Kit-Kat campaign for JWT Paris
and Nestlé, Akama Studio aimed high.
his beautifully crafted short was created as a viral promotion
for a competition for Nestlé Kit-Kat in France. Initially, the
agency J. Walter Thompson Paris approached Akama Studio
with the idea to make a short animated movie about a broker working in a cubicle office, needing to take a break. This commercial for Kit-Kat was for Internet distribution, so there was no constraint on its duration.
“The goal was to create a good comedic story, with an open end,” explains Alexandre Ada from Akama Studio. “This would lead people then to go to the Kit-Kat web site to discover the "Ultimate Break" concept. The production challenge was the deadline. They gave us only eight weeks to finish.”
In concept stage, Alexandre Ada admits first up the inspiration for the models were from Pixar films. “The boss character and others borrowed that look of ‘The Incredibles,’ though each design was finished according to their own personality,” Ada continues. “The hero was to be very expressive, affected by all the events happening to him.
Three modelers worked to create the characters. The modeling of the character ‘s UVs was done in Maya and Silo, and ZBrush was adopted for the details applied with Normal Maps. The office set,
the building and all the props were modeled in 3ds Max by three others digital artists. The setup, character rigging and the animation were made using key frames by five animators on 3ds Max. Finally, four digital artists with V-Ray did the process of lighting and rendering, and two of them were also supervising an important part
of this project.
The Walk sequence from the cubicle to the Kit-Kat dispenser is important because after the stress caused by his job, the hero character needs to take a break. As he navigates the corridor, he meets some of his colleagues, and we see his reaction as he encounters each of them. The other characters in the office have their own special flavor. The irritatingly successful guy is elegant, well dressed and possesses so many positives, it grates. Anything you can do, he does it better.
The twins are vicious, cunning and a little unhealthy. They dress in black and adopt a cheating gesture and position. The vacuous secretary is a caricature of a young female secretary. "One of the animation challenges was to show the personality of each character in a very short time," says Alexandre, "because we see them a maximum once or twice, so we had to be effective about the situation's meaning and subtlety at the same time."
“When our hero stands up to leave his office, the camera precedes him,” explains Cedric Jeanne, the Animation Director. “This was one of the moving shots we definitely wanted to keep because we needed to convey his giddiness and need for a boost of energy. For this, we had four hours of computing for each frame. So we used a lot of locked shots in 3D. We were afraid to have too static a movie, so we computed them in a larger format to secure the freedom to achieve 2D movements during the compositing.”
“On this project our pipeline was composed by 15 Quad Core workstations and one render farm of 80 processors,” continues Cedric. “The modeling was made on Maya, Silo, 3ds Max, the maps on ZBrush and Photoshop, the animation and rendering on 3ds Max with V-Ray, the final compositing and editing on After Effects.”
"We have a team of 16 digital artists on this project, and two of them were supervisors," says Cedric. "Three for character modeling, three for set and props modeling, six for animation and setup, and four for lighting, shading, rendering, compositing. And two character designers at the beginning in pre-production."
The main challenge when we accepted making this short was the timing. Only eight weeks to create good concept designs, manufacture them and animate a movie of nearly three minutes long, and of course keeping in mind the rendering process.
"So we had to find solutions to optimize the story validation process as well as the computing process. For the validation we were lucky to have a very good feeling with the advertising agency's creative team because we’d worked with them before, so a true relationship of trust helped us convince the agency to get us do the job."