A robot learns to fly in a cute new Ikea ad, directed by Daren Rabinovitch of Encyclopedia Pictura

Mother London has created a charming animated commercial for Ikea, which aims to emphasise the value of play. We talk to post-production house MPC about how they worked closely with director Daren Rabinovitch to create the ad’s distinctive style…

The theme of play appeared in another recent set of films from Ikea, where the brand collaborated with DreamWorks to promote its new Lattjo series of toys. This ad doesn’t focus on a particular product range though, and is instead a general brand spot, forming part of the ‘Wonderful Everyday’ campaign which has previously seen ads with revolving kitchens, flying beds and monkeys let loose in a jungle kitchen.

The tone of this spot is different again, however, with Rabinovitch and MPC creating a fantastical animated universe, which at the end is revealed to be the imaginative play world of two young kids and their dad.

MPC teams from across three offices – London, New York and Bangalore – worked closely with Rabinovitch to bring his visions to life in CG. “We went through a series of development paintings with the DMP (digital matte painting) style, as we explored hand-painted and photomontage techniques,” says Tom Robinson and Stephen Ross, MPC studio leads on the project.

“We seemed to float between a realistic matte painting reference from the New York Natural History museum and a storybook illustration from some concept art from the Lion King. Over time the style gravitated towards the fantasy storybook feel.”

Set Design 01
Behind-the-scenes images
Behind-the-scenes images

The clouds in particular required close attention. “Daren worked closely with us to design the forms of each cloud,” say Robinson and Ross. “We created hero clouds that were very stylised as well as a bank of background clouds that could be made with a custom cloud machine we created for this project. We then could make large numbers for different clouds that could be rendered out and used in the 2D composite and the digital matte paintings.”

Development images
Development images

“The overall style of this piece of work comes directly from Daren’s personal style of drawing,” the duo continue. “All the shapes and forms of most of the major elements, from the main cloud, to the rocks and the trees, were designed and originally drawn by Daren. We had to learn his style and incorporate this into our workflow. We worked very hard to facilitate his desires and bring to life his vision. Because of this, there is a stylistic consitency on all levels that holds true to Daren’s art direction as we tried to keep it as pure as possible.”

Ad agency: Mother London
Director: Daren Rabinovitch of Encyclopedia Pictura
Production: Strange Beast, Ghost Robot
Executive producers: Sam O’Keefe, Mark De Pace
Producer: Kitty Turley
Line producers: Hera King, Josh Hartsoe
Post production: MPC
VFX producer: Jakub Chilczuk
VFX leads, 3d/Motion Design: Tom Robinson, Steven Ross; 2d: Rod Norman
Colourist: Richard Fearon
Sound studio: 750mph
Editing: The Whitehouse
Editor: James Norris
Soundtrack: Rolls Bayce (Hudson Mohawke Remix) by Battles

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