Whisker

Litter Robot 4 CG Product Animation

Over the last year we have experienced a noticeable uptick in projects that require some type of animated visualization component. These are usually product launch campaigns with features that are either difficult to show or may not even exist yet in real life. Depending on the use case, our team can use either photoreal CG animation (Cinema 4D, Houdini, Redshift) or real time, game engine applications (Unreal or Unity). 

Litter Robot 4 CG Product Animation
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The Challenge

For this project, the creative team at Whisker reached out to assist in the launch of their new Litter Robot 4, a revolutionary hi-tech, self cleaning cat litter box. Having worked on prior live action campaigns over the years, we were thrilled to flex our CG skills supporting a new product launch.

 

There were a number of challenges that made CG animation the right choice for this project:
 

  • Hidden features – There were a number of technical gadgets and functions that simply could not be seen without taking the product apart, making CG the obvious choice. The team developed a custom x-ray effect that revealed the inner workings of the product in a high tech, sophisticated manner.

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  • Self-cleaning functions – The most important feature of the product was how it tumbled the cat litter to separate and filter out the waste. This required advanced simulations for accurate portrayal.

Technical Details

During production, our animation team used a variety of tools to achieve the final look. After generating a clean mesh from the client’s CAD data though PiXYZ Studio, Cinema4D was used to block out and animate each shot. Once the shots and their timings were approved, Houdini was used to complete the simulations for elements like the litter and the rubber liner.

 

Using Houdini for the simulations provided a ton of flexibility, enabling our team to try multiple workflows to get the most realistic result. Ultimately, the Vellum toolset was used in order to have all simulated elements interact with each other bidirectionally as well as modeling the waste drawer liner. As a thin plastic bag, it was difficult to model normally, but Vellum allowed quick iteration of looks that could be sent directly to simulation once approved.

 

To get the best balance of realism and efficiency, Redshift was used to achieve the final render of our scenes. It allowed quick renders to share with the client and gave us the ability to affordably show multiple drafts of each shot. The look of the Litter Robot itself was also meticulously matched to the original using Substance Designer. As the unit did not fully exist at the time of production, we end up mixing photography and material samples to create procedural surface finishes to match the desired look of the unit.

 

Special thanks to Motke Dapp and the fine folks at Whisker as well as the amazing Fivestone team that worked on this CG animation project!

Credits

Our team is world-class, demonstrating our commitment to bringing our A game to every engagement. Here are a few of our allies that helped craft this project.
Lead Animator
Jake Wegesin
Creative Director
Kevin Harkness
Animator
Michael Southerland
Editor
Ken Conrad
Producer
Jennifer Bonior
Executive Producer
David Perry
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