McDonald’s is inviting gamers into the animated world of ‘Maccas Mini Games’ with a new spot that combines the restaurant’s iconic meals with fun mobile challenges. Directed by Passion Melbourne's Simon Robson, the antipodean outpost of Passion Pictures called upon trusted collaborators Red Knuckles for their world class animation and art direction. The advert explores the various games on offer with the McDonald’s app, recreating the gameplay in extensive detail as two players are introduced to the animated world.
The bright spot sees a couple dive into the world of Maccas Mini Games, becoming animated avatars as they embark on mini golf and maze-themed challenges. At the end of the game, they’re both rewarded with a free McDonald’s item, returning to reality to celebrate their wins.
“I’ve been a fan of Red Knuckles since seeing their film Dark Noir some years ago,” says director Simon Robson. “Together, we workshopped ideas to create a better and more exciting visual than the low-poly, simplified phone games. Translating our style frames into the full animated films meant maintaining the frames’ charming illustrated feel in 3D. This is never easy, but the crew at Red Knuckles knew exactly how to work this through, applying great levels of detail and nuance to the 3D worlds. The Red Knuckles artists really nailed it. I couldn’t have been happier.”
He adds: “The icing on the cake was taking a really game-like approach to camera animation. Those big panning camera moves bring a sense of fun to the characters and environments, reminding the audience that the films relate back to the games they’re promoting.”
Red Knuckles were tasked with creating an animation that would act as an enhanced version of the original mobile game, which involved more simplified graphics. As the project progressed, the team delved further into the potential animation elements, evolving the look to see how far they could improve on the initial brief. Although this required more complex animation – including more detailed, expressive characters and added textures and shading – the team’s efforts added a huge upgrade to the production value and final look.
Creative directors Rick Thiele and Mario Ucci comment: “We were really set on doing something better and more complex than our original brief, but still reminiscent of mobile gaming. We had to make sure the animation could look like a perfectly playable game, but with more polished visuals the closer we got to the camera. This is a technique we like to employ a lot in our projects, as it helps with directing the viewer’s eyes to what matters.”
To achieve this, the team worked to bring added complexity to the elements in focus, whilst losing details that were further away from the camera – using matte painted backgrounds to add an additional craft element to the spot. They also worked meticulously to capture the look of the McDonald’s products, going through multiple iterations to authentically recreate the appearance of the iconic fries.
Rick and Mario add: “Most importantly, we had to make sure the Big Mac’s patty was the right level of juicy and we all remember the iconic ‘Big Mac Song’ – so it was hard to get those ingredients wrong! We were so happy with the final upgrade to the look of the animation. It makes everyone’s jobs easier when we’re all loving what we’re doing and feel like we’re adding a bit of ourselves into it.”