Gilbert Grouse is one of the most iconic brand characters that exists, so for us to get the chance to work with him was an inspiring thing for us to do.
The brand has been around for over 127 years and throughout that time we've really captured the imagination of consecutive generations with our creative storytelling.
The key with this was to really take the Grouse to new places and tell that story for today and tomorrow's consumers.
So we wanted to challenge that old saying that blended scotch could only be drank neat and on your own. The Famous Grouse was named after the social occasion, to be consumed together after a day in the Scottish countryside. The Famous Grouse has always been about togetherness.
The thing about Famous Grouse is he's actually famous. You've got something that's very exciting, but it's also a huge responsibility.
With Gilbert, we wanted to kind of create this sense of both a character and a creature, and we realised that was a kind of fine balance between keeping him natural and feeling like the wild animal that he is, but also giving him a sense of personality.
There are some challenges about working with characters that don't speak. You’re really having to look at what you get out of gesture and physicality.
What I really, really loved about this job was really having to explore birds. The way they move their heads super-fast, the rest of the body continues to move, but the head is still because it's looking at something specific. And I think that's something very fun to play around with.
In animation there is a truism that you're not just moving the character, you're trying to create a sense that the character has an internal emotional life.
So, for example, the Grouse does a little shake where he is just very proud of himself. I think that's a really cool example of that.
Birds are always one of the most complex challenges, so creating Gilbert was really interesting because he has to be able to move to perform in different situations. We have to make sure that rigging and feather grooming really work hand in hand.
Hair is a complex system in CG, generally having difficulty on the bird anatomy in general, the way they form their wings, the way they take things that are different, felt as a way that feathers playing with each other. It is a challenge in every way.
The Famous Grouse is one of those rare brand icons that's instantly recognisable and utterly beloved.
We’ve met him as a star of the show in the iconic white world. We've met him in the Scottish Highlands. And now he's welcoming us into his home in the red world.
It's a cozy environment which Gilbert knows and sort of pads about in, and that was really fun because then we can put in some Easter eggs from different ads, then if you look closely in the background, we've got a little painting of the Highlands, which is sort of as a reminder, which you may or may never have seen a Famous Grouse ad, but if you have you’ll spot them and that's quite funny.
When it came to integrate the character in it, I thought that we had to to strike the right balance because of course the other colours are quite warm. We have to find the right way to make sure it still stands out.
I think it was Nexus, a technical digital innovation that is required to do this project.
We had storyboards, starting concept art, and then we go modelling, texturing, rigging, animation, lighting, rendering effects, simulations for the feathers and the liquids. And we finish with compositing and the final colour grade.
I think we can be really proud of what we created. It's a very challenging and also ambitious project. The whole team was super dedicated and motivated and inspired. And I think you can tell that with the final results.
Everybody knows Gilbert and for us to be his animation home was just the thrill. This is the kind of project our studio loves to do, which combines that animation craft and the digital artistry all in one in one film is a perfect brief for our team.