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MPC Brings Sporting Goods Items to Life in Dick’s Commercial

Studio once again teams up with Anomaly and Pacific Rim Films’ Shawn Levy to bring back animated characters for a DICK’S Sporting Goods adventure.

Multiple MPC studios have come together with Anomaly and Pacific Rim Films’ Shawn Levy to produce a new spot for DICK’S Sporting Goods. Following in the footsteps of last year’s holiday campaign, the spot’s “lovable” animated sporting good characters are back again to continue their adventure. This time, the group escapes from a DICK’S Sporting Goods Distribution Center, commandeers a delivery truck, and drives to a young boy's family home to deliver the presents themselves.

The VFX work was led out of MPC’s New York studio with support from LA, Bangalore, and London, as well as the MPC Film team, which handled previsThe MPC team was led by animation director Chris Bernier and creative director Anthony Bloor, working closely with Anomaly and Levy in a collaboration process that started well before the shoot began.

“This year we were all focused on bringing even more character into the whole story,” commented Bernier. “Anomaly, Pacific Rim Films and MPC worked together to come up with ideas during the edit, so that our animators could include as much action as possible to make the characters likable and fun, including kick flips, rail slides, fun runs and football kicks.”

David Piombino, 2D Lead, added, “The main challenge in re-creating something in CG that also exists practically is that you need to be incredibly accurate. In the shoot, we were mindful of this and shot elements of the actual products as stand-ins. The director, agency, and set crew were very understanding of our process and this gave us a wonderful reference to match with and guide us to our final result.”

The team revived many of the characters from last year’s DICK’S Sporting Goods holiday spot to serve as supporting members of the group. The main cast for this year’s spot includes updated versions of the hoodie, skateboard, and ping pong paddles from last year’s spot, as well as new characters such as the gym weights and football.

MPC’s VFX and animation were once again key to bringing these objects to life, while also allowing them to express emotion without the use of humanlike facial features or expressions. According to Anthony Bloor, MPC creative director, “Every character – original and new – was updated so that their performance was pushed even further this year. There was more emphasis on trying to get more emotional read and humor, so each character had to hit very specific poses for us to master the emotional connection. Technically that meant building new animation rigs or find new ways to simulate the cloth in instances like the hoodie, where we also used our famous fur system to recreate the fibers of the material to give it a realistic cloth effect.”

“The key challenge with an animated campaign like this is finding the very fine balance of a believable photoreal product that also has a fun, likeable character,” Bernier continued. “We lean on the traditional animation principles like squash and stretch to build character and fluid movement, but we have to make sure we don't push it too far into a cartoon feel. The lighting, texturing, shading and simulation of the characters goes a long way to introducing believability, but ensuring a fun performance to avoid the risk of feeling hollow or lifeless.”

Though many of the characters were the same this year, one big different with the new campaign was its creation during a pandemic. A physical shoot took place in person with socially distant safety protocols while MPC interacted with Anomaly and Levy remotely to go through the animated shots together via collaborative review sessions. Although different, the process was smooth, and communication was seamless throughout. “It was a pleasure to work with Pacific Rim, Shawn, and the team at Anomaly again,” Bernier concluded. “They bring an excitement, creativity, and collaborative spirit that allows the work to really shine.”


Agency - Anomaly NY
Chief Production Officer - Chad Hopenwasser
Agency Producer - Carrie Lewis
Executive Creative Director - Seth Jacobs
Creative Directors - Bryce Cline, Jeremy Straight
Music Producer - Ben Dorenfeld


Production Company - Pacific Rim Films
Director - Shawn Levy
DP - Stuart Dryburgh
Executive Producer - Annie Johnson
Head of Production/Managing Partner - Bryan Mitchell
Line Producer - Melissa Murphy

VFX and Color:

VFX and Color - MPC
Animation Director - Chris Bernier
Creative Director - Anthony Bloor
Executive Producer - Matthew Loranger
Producers - Sally Wnek, Sandra Eklund
Production Coordinator - Stephen Dierks
3D Leads - Mike Lombardo, Fernando Tortosa
2D Leads - David Piombino, Mike Simons
Colorist - Vincent Taylor
VFX Shoot Supervisors - Jessie Amadio, Dan Fine, Vadim Turchin
Animation Team - Jacob Fradkin, Ross Scroble, Andrew Boccio, Anthony Travieso, Andy Reid, James Bown
Lighting Team - Roberto Maki, Lucy Choi, Mattias Lullini, Ash Yee, Emily Griswold
Rigging - Maximilian Mallmann, Amar Chundavadra, Navin Pinto, Gretchen Asmar, Garlapati Yeswanth
Modeling - Jemmy Molero,  Vignesh Sivakumar, Vinutha A R, Selva Kumar K, Smruti Prabhakar Satpute, Manjunath R,  S Shashi Kumar
FX - Emre Sumer
Assets - Deepali Negi, Palash Ramnaresh Soni, Shreyas Joshi, Sandeep Grover, Vivek Mayanglambam, Sumitha D, Harshitha V V
Tracking - Elangovan Ganeshan, Ganesh Kumar Selvarajan, Ashwin Mahajan, Konduru Achiraju, Sathya Narayanan, Nishant Ekka, Muruganantham T, Shridhar Bhat, Avaneetharan Karuppasamy, Karthick Ks
2D Team - Mazyar Sharifian, Thiago Porto, Josh Parks, David Filipe, Esther Song, Yashvardhan Jain, Akula Srikanth, Udaykiran Chowdary, Anand Swain, George Gijo Peter, Saravanan D, Aginesh K M, Arulanandhan P, Bijeesh K U, Padmapriya K
DMP - Bakiyaraj P, Joyett Granfred Fernandes, Winnie Sharma, Mudraboina Vamsi Krishna, Srinivas Achary
Additional Production Support - Zahid Khan, Nisha Pawar, Gaurav Joshi, Anshul Gattani

Previs - MPC Film
Previs Supervisor - Joshua Lange
Previs Artists - Dave McMahon, Xavier Coton, Hannah Addington, Simon Halpern
Head of Visualization - Patrick Smith
Visualization Producer - Mary Loibl
Production Manager - Kristin Aasen
Visualization Coordinator - Jing Marshall, Maximilian Reid
Art Director - Leandre Lagrange
Concept Artist - Svetlana Kudakova
Art Department Producer - Maryanne Pittman 

Edit Company - Arcade
Editor - Jeff Ferruzzo
Assistant - Laurel Metzler
Producer - Ellen Lavery

Editor – Arcade Edit
Partner/EP - Sila Soyer
Audio – Honeymix
Mixer - Eric Thompson
EP - Mary Tomasiewicz

Chuck Berry "Run Rudolph Run"
Human "Christmas Heist”
Composer - Thomas Keery
Creative Lead - Morgan Visconti
Senior Producer - Craig Caniglia
Executive Producer - James Wells

Source: MPC

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.