Over 100 years of technological advancements
We were tasked with the challenge to bring to life the iconic RCA dogs Nipper & Chipper in a unique and contemporary fashion. The classic RCA dogs image symbolizes the long heritage and the warm, youthful energy that is unique to RCA. Listed as one of the Top 10 Famous Brands of the 20th Century. We needed to stay true to this message and embody it into our characters, storytelling, animation, and style development.
RCA (Radio Corporation of America) is an iconic brand that has endured from generation to generation. Over time RCA has created a Legacy, a story we were honored to tell.
The intention for this Legacy Film was to construct a visual memoir, telling the story of 100+ years of technological advancements.
At the center of these advances, RCA, in each vignette represented by its logo, functions as a stencil to conceptually emphasize the brand's contributions and most significant developments.
As a 3D animation studio, our tools are multidimensional but we don't let that define our look or style. Our quest is often to mimic 2D animation styles, honoring its handcrafted 'imperfections' and charm.
The RCA dogs
The iconic image of the RCA dog Nipper became part of the long heritage of the RCA brand and an international symbol of quality and excellence. In 1990, a puppy dog named Chipper was added to the RCA dog family. Nipper and his companion Chipper became the famous RCA dogs.
Our mission was to bring these loveable canines into the 21st century.
With every project that ends up on our desks, a style is tailored to fit. Every style requires a unique approach and in this case, we even turned analog.
We felt we needed to use real-life situations and materials as inspiration to hit the briefed 'handcrafted' look and feel.
In the end these effects were dialed down, but remains can be found in the endresult.
We decided to strip the dog's shading of a few layers and simplify like one would do when crafting an intricate 2D animation.
A base 'fill' with one layer of simplified shadow was all we needed for most shots. Simply offsetting and eroding each dog's alpha channel, roughening the edges and using this as a mask in comp gave us a simple yet effective way to create a rim-lighting effect.
All 'imperfections' introduced by these solutions were warmly welcomed and played a key part in enhancing the handcrafted look and style. A toon outline with varying width and heavy denoising gave us a smooth and clean result, like our concept art below.
A simple cel-shader using a clamped ambient occlusion output was set up in Maya and rendered separately. Screenspace displacement and roughened edges were added in comp providing us with ultimate control over noise and grain. Screenspace noise was often combined with 3D noise to help with the sense of directionality.
We never know what the future might hold but RCA will sure be part of it, or even lead the way. All we know is that our dogs will contribute and help to further build the brand.