SPCA “Find your Purrfect Match”
We interviewed Image Engine alum Jeremy Stewart about how Image Engine became involved in SPCA’s “Find your Purrfect Match” commercial.
How did this project make its way to Image Engine?
It all started with a request for an animation test on an old cat model we had left over from a bid. Animation tests can be a little uninspiring so I suggested we do something more than just a “test”; maybe a short film. Time constraints, though, meant that we couldn’t do it. The pressure was on to come up with an even better idea! I have donated my time to create animation and video for several non-profit organizations, documentaries and other projects that promote positive social change such as The David Suzuki Foundation, 2 Documentaries and TEDx: Stanely Park. I also have a dog we adopted from a rescue shelter so it didn’t take long to come up with the idea of doing a short commercial for the SPCA.
I knew the hard part would be coming up with a commercial that could be done in a short amount of time, would highlight the CG cat using as few shots as possible, and be entertaining. I sketched out a few ideas and finally decided on the “yoga girl meets yoga cat”.
What inspired the concept for the commercial?
When we got our dog I was a little unsure if he’d be right for us. I imagine many people feel that way when getting a pet from the SPCA or an animal shelter. I don’t regret for a minute getting our dog Rex from a shelter and I wanted to make something that would encourage other people to do the same; to get their next pet from the SPCA instead of a pet store.
I brought the storyboards and renders of the cat to the SPCA and pitched my idea for the commercial to Lori Chortlyk. She loved the idea and asked that we add the tag line “Find your Purrrfect match at the SPCA”. The SPCA makes sure that they match people with a pet that will match their lifestyle, needs and expectations. The girl (played by my wife Susanna) and the cat both have a lot in common… a perfect match!
What was the next step?
With the SPCA now on board I had to convince the crew at Image Engine to pitch in. So many people stepped up! As VFX artists we get to work on cool projects but it’s rare that we get to work on something for a good cause. I think that inspired a lot of people and I was amazed to see all the extra effort everyone put into this “test” project. Many people gave up their spare time to make this look its best, staying late or working through breaks. Lori Chortlyk, Tricia Leslie, and everyone at the SPCA were great to work with. They gave us full access to the facilities and made sure the feline extras hit their marks. I would love to make another commercial for them.
What do you hope this project achieves besides convince viewers to adopt their pets?
I hope this project inspires other artists, filmmakers, and anyone to donate their skills and talent to a good cause. In the end I think this project was a winner for everyone involved. Everyone got to feel good about making it, Image Engine got to show off their abilities to create realistic furry creatures, I got to create/direct/animate a fun project, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals got a commercial, and pets will find some good homes.