Sunday, March 2, 2014

Let's all do the Hamster Dance

I usually like to take a quasi serious approach towards these posts. Despite my greatest attempts, I almost always fall flat on my face. Now I bet I know what you're thinking. Is this going to be the turning point? Is he finally going to write something that I can learn from? Will I finally be putting my time to good use? Nope! Sorry, dude. There may, at some point, be a change in the tone of my posts, but this is not that post. The fact that the post is titled "Let's all do the Hamster Dance" should have been a strong indicator. I'm terribly sorry to disappoint you, but as long as you're here you might as well keep reading!

Let's get down to business. And no, I'm not referencing the forever-adored song from Disney's Mulan. I mean I should probably tell you why you're here. But good luck getting that out of your head now. Have you seen the commercial for the "totally transformed" 2014 Kia Soul? Of course you have! Because, like all the Kia Soul commercials, it features our favorite fuzzy hamsters. Well, if you haven't seen it yet, here it is:

2014 Kia Soul Hamster Commercial from Asad Baig on Vimeo.

I'd really like to just take some time to discuss this advertisement. Mostly because there are hamsters. Actually, entirely because there are hamsters. From watching a VFX breakdown video, I learned that the Kia hamsters are actually actors wearing suits that were later CGI'ed into the furry creatures we've grown to love. Up to this point, I was positive the hamsters were entirely computer-generated. I honestly had no idea, whatsoever, that the hamsters' heads were usually the only parts completely created in post-production. Here's the video I'm referring to (yes, I see that it's titled "2013 kia," but they're mistaken):

What I simply cannot figure out is why the animators would always seem to add the hamsters' upper torsos only to take them away. Why wouldn't they just add the head and neck? The only explanation I can really think of is that it would help more accurately map out the hamsters' movements. I could be completely wrong, and probably am, but I'm all out of ideas.

The most fascinating part of the entire commercials for me can be found in the video preview image above. When the hamster (or actor) jumps into the pool, clearly one would expect to see a cloud of bubbles following behind it. Well, the makers of the commercial hit it spot on. Most of the bubbles were originally created from the actor physically jumping into the pool and swimming, but much of the cloud had to be added in after shooting since the hamster is larger and shaped differently than the actor. I know there are plug-ins and whatnot that can be used with ease to create such effects, but I'm just assuming some of the final product is the result of the animators' talent.

Like I said, this was not meant to be a well-articulated post, nor was it meant to teach you much of anything. I'm not the one who wasted your time. You did that to yourself. I just needed an excuse to type out "hamster" thirteen times (including this time...and the title).

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