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CCR cluster used to animate new Charlie the Tuna

Published January 23, 2014

New Charlie the Tuna Animation by IBC Digital

New Charlie the Tuna Animation by IBC Digital

Boosting Local Industry

“We felt we had an obligation to maintain the integrity of this brand and usher it into the modern era of technology”
Ben Porcari, President
IBC Digital

Buffalo digital-effects company IBC Digital used University at Buffalo's Center for Computational Research (CCR) resources to prep Charlie the Tuna for his animated role in a new TV commercial. IBC Digital is known for its computer-generated animation work on behalf of major studios and cable networks. With help from CCR, they recreated StarKist’s classic mascot for a national ad campaign.

IBC Digital employees spent eight hectic weeks working on the campaign. “We felt we had an obligation to maintain the integrity of this brand and usher it into the modern era,” said IBC President Ben Porcari.

IBC, which beat out two large animation studios to win the contract, has been producing animation for television for more than 22 years. Their collaborations with UB's CCR supercomputing center date back to 1999.

The IBC production team faced the challenge of translating the 50 year old, hand-drawn Charlie character into a computer-generated figure. “I get very concerned about taking two dimensional characters that have been established with the market and actually adapting them into the 3-D world,” said collaborator Steve “Spaz” Williams of Cornerstone Pictures, who is known for his pioneering visual-effects work.

The “incredibly technical solution” created by IBC began with drawings of Charlie in two dimensions. IBC then used the 2-D drawings to animate Charlie in 3-D, a process that in some cases required frame-by-frame adjustments.

UB's CCR, which has performed rendering and related services for IBC projects in the past, assisted with file transfers and dataset handling for the Charlie animation project.  CCR has worked with IBC Digital on other projects such as MTV2 Video Mods and animation used during the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs by the OLN and VS Networks.

This post has been adapted from the Buffalo News article dated 22 January 2014. For more refer to: For Buffalo digital-effects firm, a new Charlie the Tuna is easy as IBC.