Talking Animals VFX & CGI

Over the past 12 years, I've been lucky enough to become an expert in creating bespoke talking animal VFX to enhance TV programs, commercials and film. Whether it be cats, dogs, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, chickens, fish, kangaroos, horses, donkeys or rodents - I can bring life, voice and character to any cuddly creature or farmyard animal required in your production. Anything is possible using VFX/CGI techniques, patience and a big bag of talent.
Press play on the reel below to see for yourself.

  Talking Animals VFX Reel

In-depth examples:

Talking Animals VFX & CGI // ‘Oi, Pussy’, BBC Three

Guidance: contains strong language and adult humour.

London production company Big Deal Films approached James to bring their BBC3 adult-comedy mini-series to life with talking animal VFX of cats and dogs.

After creating the 3d model mouths for each of the characters and setting up the mouth rigs, a total of 117 individual VFX shots had to be created for 3 episodes, with each of the shots requiring tracking, lipsync animation, rendering and compositing.

In order to achieve the most realistic effect possible within the timescale, each of the shots required specific and custom amounts of CGI fur, specific lighting setups, motion blur, depth of field and colour correction.

The rendered shots were then composited and rotoscoped frame-by-frame.

The show premiered on BBC iPlayer and BBC Three’s Youtube channel on 15th September 2019.

About ‘Oi, Pussy!’:

Oi, Pussy! combines live action and CGI elements to create a world where opinionated, street-savvy cats can talk and pass judgement on their human owners without a filter.

Pussy wanders around the UK’s most notorious estate. unnoticed, gaining a unique perspective on all the dodgy dealings and anti-social antics going on in his manor. When innocent bystanders get caught in the fray, like Robin Hood, Pussy’s determined to make things right – one petty, karmic move at a time.

Oi, Pussy! is produced by Big Deal Films for BBC Three. It is written by Atlanta Green and directed by Mustapha Kseibati. The executive producer is Thomas Stogdon for Big Deal Films and the commissioning editor is Sarah Asante for the BBC.

Cast:
Pussy: Hakan Hassan
Muffin: David Whitely
G-Man: Humza Arshad
Mags: Lydia Rose Bewley
News Reporter: Simon Marriott
Cat Owner: Lauren Douglin
Toba: Gamba Cole
Aaron: Pierre Moullier
Pearl: Paddy Navin
Photographer: Felix Trench
Model: Talitha Stone
Muffins Owner: Lucille Johnson
Gavin: Isaac Perez

Crew:
Executive Producers: Dhanny Joshi & Thomas Stogdon
Commissioning editor or BBC: Sarah Asante
Written by: Atlanta Green
Additional material by: Tasha Dhanraj
Produced and Directed by: Mustapha Kseibati
Line Producer: Simon Marriot
1st AD: Emma Pounds
DOP: Stuart White
Focus Puller: Chris Pollit
2nd AC: Daniel Svilenov
Sound Recordist: Aris Anastasssopoulos
1st AS: Nikos Nikolaleos
DIT/Editor: Isaac Perez
VFX: James Kearsley

Online Post Facility: 1185 Films
Colourist: Nick Franco
Sound Mix: Mark Hodgkin
Music: Audio Network
Location Manager: Sharon McGuinness
Production Designer: Frederico Nobre de Carvalho
Set Dresser: Lara Zeidan
Animal Trainer: Jo Vaughan (Birds & Animals)
Animal Trainer Assistant: Julie Tottman
Key Make-up Artist: Julia Sanchez Merino
Head of Wardrobe: Karmjit Kalla
Casting: Shout Loud Casting
2nd AD: Ruby Lake
Runner: Jake De La Mothe
Runner: Artur Haluda

Software used: 3ds Max, Vray, After Effects, Photoshop

Talking Animals VFX // ‘Dog Cafe’, Association of British Insurers

Award-winning London based communications agency Third City approached James to create some talking animal VFX in their promo ad as part of their digital campaign for ABI – The Association of British Insurers.

The film was shown across Instagram and Facebook, which resulted in a total of 715,180 video views, a reach in excess of 1.4m and over 1.8m impressions.

Working with Curveball Media – who directed the video and handled all the shots on set, James modelled, textured and rigged 4 individual dog mouth models for each of the different breeds. After pre-production planning to discuss the suitability of shots and the possible pitfalls to avoid, the shots were filmed on-set at the ‘Central Bark’ cafe…. Once the final rushes were received, shots were then tracked to isolate the dogs head movement and tweaked to enable the mouth overlay to sit and follow the motion of each of the dogs for their respective shots. The 3D model mouth rigs where then animated in time to lipsync with the voices of the actors.

Finally, a large amount of rotoscoping and masking across individual keyframes was required throughout in order to blend between the live action footage and CGI renders.

Producer: Graz Belli, Third City
Direction & Video Production: Curveball Media
Talking Animals VFX: James Kearsley / JumpKick
Software used: 3ds Max, Vray, After Effects, Photoshop

Talking Animals CGI // Sunraysia Organic

Working with Creative Nation and Tapestry, James was asked to help bring a baby kangaroo to life and talk to the camera about its favourite juice drink, Sunraysia Organic.

After the initial ideas and storyboard were agreed upon, stock footage was sourced to find a suitable set of plates to cut an edit, which included stabilising footage and time-remapping where necessary. In order to create realistic talking animal CGI animation, a 3d model mouth was then tracked to that of the Joey’s head and lipsynced to match the spoken VO as closely as possible.

After compositing the mouth, new eyes were added to increase the cuteness factor and allow more control over the kangaroos focus. Other elements such as the kangaroos arm, drinks pouch and waving hand were modelled and rendered in 3D, then composited in the edit to allow for changes.

Once finalised, the process had to be repeated again to cover a Cantonese VO version which needed new lipsync animation to match the voice.

Talking Animals CGI; 3D Modelling, 3D Animation & Post Production: James Kearsley
Software Used: 3DS Max, After Effects, Photoshop.

Talking Animals CGI Animation // ‘Big Barn Farm’, CBBC

Big Barn Farm tells the story of the farmyard bunch, a friendly group of talking animals. iCarley Media contacted James to help bring the animals to life and communicate in over 450 visual effects shots.

In order to achieve the talking animal VFX, James animated CG models of the animals mouths over the live action footage, before tracking the position and rotation of the CG model mouths so that they matched the position of the live action mouths on the filmed plates.

The mouths were then animated using a variety of modifiers in 3DS Max, in order to lipsync the mouth movement to the audio. Once the mouth layers were rendered, they were composited using After Effects and additional layers of the original live action footage were rotoscoped in as overlays or blends to help the CG sit in the scene.

With a quick turnaround time required, it was important that a balance of speed vs. quality was reached in order to get through the large number of shots before going to air.

The series was aired on the CBeebies TV channel in the UK in 2010.

Talking Animals VFX, 3D Animation & Compositing:
James Kearsley / JumpKick

Software Used: 3DS Max, After Effects, Photoshop.

More awesome 2D / 3D Animation, motion graphics, CGI, VFX & post production projects:

Just click on any of the below..

Talking Animal VFX // ‘Oi, Pussy’, BBC Three

Award-Winning VR Experience // ‘Dispatch’ : 3D & Animation

Talking Animal VFX // ‘Dog Cafe’, Association of British Insurers

Eurosport | Australian Open 2015 Commercial | Melting CGI

Music video VFX | All We Are – ‘Keep Me Alive’

Stylised, glitchy 2D Animation & Motion Graphics // Red Bull: ‘The Noise’

Product launch promo
Vehicle CGI & 3D Animation

Burn / Lotus F1 – ‘Burn Yard : Sao Paulo’
Live action VFX event promo

CBBC ‘The Revolting World of Stanley Brown’
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Clean, stylised motion graphics | BAE ‘SuccessFactors’ 2D animation

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Iglu & Hartley: ‘Violent & Young’ Music Video
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Urbanara animated brand promo
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CBeebies Big Barn Farm
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Pacha Ibiza House Anthems
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Christmas 3D Animation

Natural Motion
My Horse
UI & Concept design