Film & Television

Creating a 3D animating character

SA Lotteries' advertising agency had come up with a strap line, "You don't know how lucky you'd be until you scratch a money bee." The agency wanted a commercial with an animating bee being scratched by a
hand. The bee character was to have the feeling of being warm loveable and cute, but not babyish. The bee had to have personality, and not be a wacky mistrustful character. Fusion brought these ideas to fruition.

Moneybee styleframe

Like a lot of design projects, developing a 3D animating character starts with pencil and paper. A style frame was developed illustrating in 2D the look and feel of the Moneybee.

"The silhouette of a character is an important consideration, it needs to be strong and clean looking offering the character a bold personality." Said Damien Thaller, Fusion's 3D animator.

With the style frame designed, the client approved the concept image straight away, commenting that he was, "gorgeous". A 15 second story board was then designed and written for the commercial, detailing shots, character movements, and composition.

To bring Moneybee into the third dimension he was built using Maya, texturing his skin details, lighting angles and shadows. This work occurred over an intensive week. The animation then began, working on a bone system to map out the animation paths.

"It was interesting to explore what movements looked cute. I got a lot of inspiration from my Jack Russel Terrier as he enjoyed a good scratch on his belly. His cute movements were short and small, and not at all babyish. I exaggerated everything on Moneybee to emphasise expression and tell the story faster. It got tricky with the stinger; I had to be careful what it looked like in this region." Laughed Damien

Frames from the Moneybee commercial

The storyboard required live action footage of a hand tickling Moneybee. This was filmed in high definition using a green screen starring a mock bee hanging from the ceiling. Lighting had to be consistent with how Moneybee had been set up in Maya.

The Moneybee commercial will be seen in South Australia. As he is tickled you will be amused by his giggles and have a new appreciation of the intricacies of 3D character design.


  • From a simple tag line an advertisement has been created including the development of an original 3D character
  • Moneybee has become a mascot-like character for SA Lotteries and is planned to be used in further commercials and promotions

Client: SA Lotteries
Agency: KWP!
Director: Damien Thaller

Fusion: Character design, Storyboarding, Animation, Compositing
Date aired: June 2006

View SA Lotteries Moneybee commercial (2Mb)

You will need the QuickTime plug-in to view the movie.

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