Not so long ago, auto insurance company Geico and ad agency The Martin Agency approached animation and effects company Framestore NY to draw on the 3D talents behind such projects as WALKING WITH DINOSAURS, DINOTOPIA and HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE and "reinterpret" the already-beloved Geico Gecko mascot.
The Framestore NY team then transformed the urbane lizard into a more versatile, decidedly cheekier cockney bloke. The risky move paid off, evidenced by the new Gecko's win as "Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Broadcast Program, Commercial or Music Video" at the 5th annual VES (Visual Effects Society) Awards.
Never ones to rest on their laurels, the Framestore NY team recently reteamed with The Martin Agency and upped the ante in eight comedy-driven new spots featuring the loveable reptile. This time around, however, Framestore NY provided much more than animation and visual effects. The spots were co-directed (with Joe Lawson) by Framestore Animation director/effects supervisor David Hulin. The company also handled the editing of the spots.
"I believe the key to the success of the Geico spot was in our relationship with the client," said Framestore NY President Jon Collins. "We already had a good working relationship with The Martin Agency, and we were delighted with the opportunity to work with the Gecko again. He's a wonderful, iconic character, and we were all excited about taking him further."
Hulin commented, "We feel so close to the Gecko now and, this time, we were involved from the very beginning, even before the scripts were written. The extra involvement gave us the chance to train our Gecko to show more street smarts, sales savvy and his own quirky brand of humor. He's an East End geezer type, and his cockney accent and mannerisms are an endless source comedic possibilities. The new spots just let us have even more fun with him."
Currently airing, the new spots present the amiable Gecko in his best "stream-of-consciousness" mode; although completely committed to Geico's cause, he is sometimes distracted, not to mention puzzled, by the world around him. In MONUMENTAL, a :30 second spot specifically for the Virginia market, our Gecko sits comfortably on the stone steps of a residential city street. Blithely commenting that there is some 'monumental news,' he fairly quivers as he tells of lower insurance rates in Virginia, explaining that it is "all he can think about." With the Geico's explanation comes a realization: he has no idea where he is. Despite his confusion, however, he manages a friendly greeting to a passerby.
Similar in tone is LOCAL, in which our friend strolls leisurely along a window ledge while explaining that, whether they call, write, or visit, viewers will get great service. He goes on to explain that visiting the local office might get you some "biscuits 'n gravy," if Geico had any, which they don't. Confusing even himself, the Gecko turns and knocks on the window, apparently telling a motorist not to park outside. The Gecko gamely attempts to remain on-message in the shorter spot SECONDS, only to end up questioning whether he can get his point across in such a short space of time. His querying is abruptly interrupted, however, by the final Geico voiceover.
"When we were coming up with our Gecko, [Framestore senior animator] Andy Walker and I created a tailor-made animation pipeline," added Hulin. "Both Geico and The Martin Agency wanted to be able to take the Gecko in completely new directions, and the new spots show how we made that possible. The new Gecko is able to sit down and climb things in every conceivable situation The pipeline makes the lighting and the rendering very smooth. As always, we want to make sure that he performs as naturally and looks as good as he possibly can."
Framestore CFC (www.framestore.com) opened its New York office in January 2004, with the aim of building on its burgeoning international reputation with US agencies. Early 2005 found Framestore NY relocating to new premises on Spring Street, SoHo... complete with roof meadow! The caliber of work produced out of the office has gone from strength to strength with spots created for Axe, Coke, FedEx, Discover Card, Pepsi, Sprite, Dodge and Propel, in addition to the creation of a nine spot campaign rebranding the Geico gecko.
Framestore NY's awards collection includes a 2006 Emmy for Best Primetime Commercial for FedEx STICK. In 2007, Framestore NY picked up a Visual Effects Society Awards show honor for Geico CHAT in the "Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Broadcast Program, Commercial or Music Video" category.
London-based Framestore CFC was formed in December 2001 through the union of two of the most creative and dynamic companies in the industry: FrameStore and The Computer Film Co. (CFC). The company is now the largest visual effects and computer animation company in Europe, with more than 30 years of combined experience in digital film and video technology.