Cartoon Network | How to Build a Carnaval Float in 45 Days

joshes Cartoon Network, Motion Design 1 Comment

When Cartoon Network Latin America approached us in late November to create a spot for their Carnaval programming block in early February, we never expected to recreate an entire float in CG. If you don’t know, Brazil takes their floats seriously during the biggest party of the year. For the real world Carnaval, some teams will spend all twelve months making their dream float a moving, mechanical reality. Originally, our plan was to capture that energy without building one ourselves in 3D. There were some initial bombastic ideas, sure, but the end product of our collaboration dwarfs what we had in mind. Guess that’s what happens when you get into the Carnaval spirit.

Tight Turnarounds Are Better with Friends

At Sprocket, we consider the Cartoon Network team close collaborators. Everything we get to make for them is an extension of ourselves, so we insist that it shines. And what better time to shine than Carnaval, arguably the shiniest and most epic of all annual festivals? Going into those initial brainstorming meetings, both teams knew we were looking for something celebratory and on a massive scale. After submitting our ideas, it was clear that the best way to accomplish this would be to recreate the sensation of being at Carnaval, complete with all the joy of being surrounded by the Cartoon Network family of characters. Great idea, but how do achieve that scale with a limited timeline?

Sprocket Creative | Carnaval | Initial Pencil Sketch

Initial sketch for our Carnaval float. Cheer up Marceline, it’s a party!

Making a Big Scene (In a Small Window)

In the motion graphics world, creating a big scene from scratch is a huge undertaking. And working with a forty-five day window makes it doubly so. Our first instinct? Find great footage from the real world Carnaval, and build our Cartoon Network float in that incredible environment. But we found out pretty quickly that the ideal footage didn’t exist. There were lots of captures of boisterous Carnaval-goers, but none with just the right angle. So our initial float concept would have to carry a heavier load, and communicate the sensation of a large crowd surrounding it. To us, that meant our models had to be fully realized and fully bodacious. There would be no faking it.

A Float You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

As you can see in the video below, our float has a lot of moving parts (and a lot of delicious french fries). What you don’t see is that our float is all but ready to drive out of the… float garage. The camera angle paints the scene; you see our character balloons, the cartoons and pieces on the float, and the stands and patrons around it (also populated by the Cartoon Network family). But what you may not realize is that we rendered the float fully, which means we could bring this model into a longer cut of the same spot today and the viewer would see even more, down to the elbow joints on our centerpiece, an Adventure Time regular named Hunson Abadeer. These grand scale objects might seem like a challenge to build, but the real undertaking was making sure all the action synced with the chosen song, a samba version of the aptly named Fry Song. When you’re dealing with full models like this on a limited timeframe, you have to account for several day-long renders, and damned if we were going to have our finished product a step off of the beat for Carnaval. So after a few weeks, we sent over the final. But would the Latin America team think we hit the mark?

Sprocket Creative | Carnaval | Cartoon Network Party

Carnaval kids wearing shirts with our balloon designs at a CN Latin America party.

If You Build It, They Will Come

After building our float and submitting the spot, we were happy to find that Cartoon Network Latin America loved the finished product. Even better, they were using pieces for bus wraps, billboards, and even as a theme for internal Carnaval parties, which is probably the highest honor any Carnaval content can achieve. To us, this is the ideal wrap-up of a project: an infectious sort of excitement that makes our collaborators and clients proud of their team just to see our work. We believe heartily in the Cartoon Network story, and if our piece translate that across country lines, then we’ve done our jobs.