Sainsbury's 'Mog'

November 2015

Sainsbury’s delivered an emotive spot for the festive season, as Judith Kerr’s family favourite Mog returned for one more calamitous adventure. Framestore were delighted to work alongside creative agency AMV BBDO and Director James Rouse at Outsider on the campaign, preparing Mog for her first-ever animated foray.

The full three minute film premiered across UK television channels on 12th November, and holds an important cause at its core. Creator Judith Kerr worked with Sainsbury’s to script the exclusive narrative for Mog in aid of Save The Children, highlighting literacy education and the inherent joy of shared stories and fantastic tales.

A true passion project from the start, Framestore are extremely proud to have worked on such an iconic creature, re-imagining Kerr’s illustrations for the screen in a unique way.

Framestore’s creative journey alongside director James Rouse took Mog from early concept to fully actualised character. ‘Being able to work with a much-loved character like Mog has been a real joy for us’, says Senior Producer Heather Kinal. ‘There’s a lot to consider with a literary character - we form strong attachments to them, particularly when were young, so a degree of sensitivity is needed.’

VFX Supervisors Ben Cronin and Grant Walker, and CG Supervisor Ahmed Gharraph, led a broad team of artists to create Mog, a CG cat whose emotions are built on a careful combination of feline and human references. Judith Kerr’s original illustrations formed the base of the work, with concept drawings further refining the intensity and range of Mog’s expressions.

The team also amassed a huge library of cat pictures and videos on a dedicated reference machine for the job, and paid a visit to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home to gain hands-on experience with real-life Mogs.

In order to achieve the right ‘weightiness’ for Mog’s character, Framestore pushed the typical CG rigging layers of skeleton and muscle to incorporate a ‘fat layer’, which would animate and deform to give her highly realistic feline movement.

Finer analysis was needed to define Mog’s facial expressions. Director James Rouse and Framestore drafted in actor Jeremy Swift and rigged him with a GoPro to create references, as they sought to add a highly relatable, human edge to the cat’s emotions. Neither cartoon nor entirely photoreal, her readable face and expressive eyes work to highlight the story at the campaign’s heart, and the heart-warming tone of the ad.

‘The big “Christmas ad” has become such an anticipated event, and delivering work which is not only beautiful and charming, but supportive of a great cause like Save The Children, is a real achievement’, says Heather Kinal. ‘We can’t wait to see people fall in love with our Mog, and remember the brilliant books at the heart of this campaign’.

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