ASDA 'Chocolate Hen'

March 2016

Hand-crafted, carefully tempered, and perfectly formed: Framestore is pleased to present one incredible chocolate hen, as part of ASDA’s Easter eggstravaganza.

A team of talented artists worked closely with Director Gary Freedman and the creative team at VCCP to create the enormous chocolate chick, who will be starring in three spots across UK television and cinema screens in the build-up to Easter weekend. Framestore were responsible for the planning, crafting and execution of the supersized hen, with careful consideration for the real-life mechanics and behaviours involved.

The shoot for the spots took place across four days, and called for a multitude of environments and set-ups, including a rather talented Easter bunny ‘acting’ in a muddy field against green-screen. Framestore amassed a huge amount of photography and research material in the process, to ensure each and every shot was thoroughly prepped.

One of the greatest challenges existed in the modelling and rigging of the hen, fulfilling the need to portray a solid chocolate exterior whilst faithfully echoing the movements of a bird. The decision was made to have the hen exist in two halves - as per the two-parted shells of an Easter egg - to maintain a grounded and organic form of motion as she takes steps. By locking the leg joints partly in one axis, a sliding effect was created to allow the two shells to part as the hen moves, giving her legs the weightiness called for by her stature.

Framestore’s animators played with styles for the ads, trialling everything from traditional stop-motion through to hyper-real chicken physicality. The final balance makes allowances for the hen’s realistic chocolate finish, with the artists using extra rigged controls to limit the amount of internal movement across her body.

The chocolate look itself called for a great amount of intricate, sugar-fuelled research from the Modelling and Texture teams, whose task it was to implement the imperfections on the hen’s chocolate surface to avoid too clean a look. Macro photography of real Easter eggs was key, capturing the details that would make the chocolate hen look both incredibly real, yet suitably delicious (and induced some hunger pangs along the way).

The project was an exciting, one-of-a-kind brief for Framestore, who applied their extensive experience in creature design and CG skill with great enthusiasm. Says 2D Supervisor Leonardo Costa of the work, ‘We were able to really push the boundaries here, to create something unique and hyper-realistic. I believe the results show just how incredible the talent pool is here, and I am very proud of both the team involved and the final results for Asda’.

For VFX Supervisor Simon French, the ad’s success came from full team collaboration: ‘Both 3D and 2D teams have really pulled out all the stops to deliver a carefully crafted piece of work in a short amount of time. Right from the start we knew this one would be rewarding, and were given great freedom throughout from the client to have fun with the idea and flex our creative muscle — ramping up the pandemonium in the car park, and adding the sort of textural and modelling detail that make you want to reach in, snap off a chunk and get your chocolate fix’.

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