Steele VFX Makes Funky Chickens for BK

To promote Burger King’s Big Kids meals, featuring lightning bolt and star-shaped Chicken Tenders, ad agency Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis and Santa Monica, Calif.-based production company Visitor called on Steele VFX to create some birds of an entirely different feather.

Titled Maybe Not, the spot opens on two boys sitting in a Burger King restaurant wondering where their fun Chicken Tenders come from. They imagine a barnyard populated by fowl with star-shaped bodies and others with lightning-like zigzag backbones. Back in the restaurant, the boys dismiss the vision as preposterous and go back to eating lunch.

Also based in Santa Monica, Calif., Steele VFX used computer animation to create the misshapen chickens. Artists initially produced illustrations and clay models of the foul, which were used to build the 3D computer models. Detailed texturing of the chickens’ feathers and realistic movement help sell the illusion. "We went out into the field and shot stills of real chickens to study their staggered walk," explains visual effects supervisor Jerry Steele. "It’s that movement and the way the chickens carry themselves that makes them seem real."

The chickens’ bizarre shapes suggested certain personality traits to the artists. "The star-shaped chicken is a little like a Sumo wrestler. It has a heavy, lower body weighted motion. Whereas the lighting bolt is a little unstable and top heavy," Steele says. "We saw them as a kind of Laurel and Hardy pair."

Steele VFX also handled 2D effects work for the spot with compositors integrating the animated birds into the live action barnyard background.

The spot was exec. produced by Steele’s Ian Dawson, Campbell Mithun VP Matthew Brenner and Visitor’s Lisa Hollingshead. Visitor’s Michael Patterson directed for producer Doug Meyer. FilmCore in Santa Monica provided editing services.