Make Real California Milk part of your family. Fred Savage and Deutsch LA add a gossipy bovine to this family's dinner conversation for the California Milk Board's latest installment in their iconic talking cow campaigns. The first new spot to hit the air is "Friends," with two more rolling out over the next month.
For the VFX heavy spots, Savage and Über Content enlisted Method Studios.
During filming, the team shot four individual cows, one per spot, live on stage with tracking marks strategically placed on their faces for registration later. Savage and Method filmed the cows as secondary plates to split screen in with actors later in post, but wherever there was key interaction between the cows and people they tried to keep as much of the shot live and in camera as possible. Savage and Method worked to preserve as much of the cows’ natural reactions, but also to allow for the maximum range of performance that the cows were comfortable with.
For the post production, Method used a little bit of every tool in their arsenal. Autodesk Maya was used to model, rig, and animate the cows, Houdini to light and render fur and skin, Zbrush for fine detail modeling and texturing, and Autodesk Nuke and Flame for compositing. The pipeline itself involved modeling the cows from survey reference photos gathered on set, match moving the cows using the small tracking markers placed on the cows faces during shoot (which were then cleaned out in post), and then animating/rendering on top of the match moved cows heads.
Method also filmed reference footage of the various voice actors performing their lines to use as a starting point for the animators when they built out the cows’ performances. A bulk of the animations was created in Maya but Method’s team added a fair bit of secondary animation (eyes, cheeks, etc.) using Flame for 2D warping wherever the performance warranted. By doing the animation this way, they could preserve as much of the real cow as possible and only change the bits needed. Their 2D pipeline involved ingesting the CG into nuke and manipulating it there with a blend of proprietary tools and Nuke's built-in 3D capabilities (geo import, UV handling, etc) before exporting pre-comp’ed plates to the Flame for finish compositing.
Source: Über Content