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Cuppa Coffee Makes A Big Splash With Ritz Scuba

When J. Walter Thompson Toronto approached Cuppa Coffee Studios to develop a mixed media look for the launch of Ritz's new line of crackers "Mini Ritz SCUBA," Cuppa Coffee combined multiple mediums ranging from live-action actors, stop-motion puppets, 3D particle animation, digital post effects and embellishments, water displacement and watercolor illustrations. The spot has a quirky surreal feel, turning the breakfast table into an underwater world where the main character interacts with mini Ritz crackers shaped like ocean creatures.

An intricately detailed miniature kitchen set was built for the establishing shot, which transitions to a full-scale model of the kitchen table and window where the stop-motion elements were animated. Aside from the ocean creature crackers, the main characters existed as stop-motion puppets with live-action faces.

Director Hector Herrera said, "Compositing live-action footage of actors' faces onto stop-motion puppets gave the team a lot of freedom when designing the characters while at the same time giving the characters a face for the viewer to connect with."

The actors' faces were shot on mini DV, covering a wide range of facial expressions that were used to create a toolkit to be assembled and composited based on the script. Both large-scale stop-motion models as well as computer-generated crackers were designed and animated to suit specific purposes.

"The large-scale models were used for close ups as they were a more accurate representation of the product's texture and shape," explains Herrera. "Computer-generated schools of fish were created to be used in cases were the amount and level of control needed for the scenes would have demanded a lot more resources."

Once in the underwater world, watercolor backgrounds were composited together with cel-animated elements, stop-motion characters and 3D computer graphics.

"With our orchestra of very talented Cuppa animators and a well planned vision, we created an exciting synergy that translated to the screen," said Hemeon. "It was wonderfully collaborative, cohesive and fun endeavor!"

Cuppa Coffee Credits:Hector Herrera - Creative Director / DirectorLisa Hemeon - Executive Producer / ProducerAl Piazza - Post Production & 3D SupervisorSylvie Trouve - Stop Motion AnimatorFrance Daigle - Production ManagerZane Knisely - Head of Art Dept & PuppetsHenry Sansom - DOPMatthew Hemming - After Effects Animator / Special EFXDermot Walshe - Production DesignerDaniel Robinson - Design AssistantIgnacio Peon - Graphic DesignerTed Healey - Prop and Set DesignerTrevor Mercer - Prop and Set DesignerKalle Malloy - Character Designer & Storyboard ArtistStephanie Lee - Art Dept - Puppet FabricatorDarren Stamos - Art Dept - Prop FabricatorJeanette Billard - Art Dept - SculptorJulie Faulkner - Art Dept - SculptorJig Saw Casting - CastingChristine Rubiales - Makeup

J. Walter Thompson Toronto Credits:Mark Hansen - Account DirectorJanice Foote - Account SupervisorLaura Seaton - Account ExecutiveAndy Brokenshire - VP, Executive Art Director, JWT Toronto.Dean Hore VP, Associate Creative Director, JWT Toronto.Donna Heffernan - Producer, Head of Broadcast Production, JWT Toronto.

Ritz Credits:Stephanie Wilkes - Category Business Director (Crackers /Salty Snacks)Irene Huang - Product Manager (Crackers)Vanessa Mosakos - Associate Product Manager (Crackers)

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Rick DeMott
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