first direct, Little Frill

MPC crafts some unexpected creatures for JWT’s latest first direct campaign

Little Frill, a frustrated frill-necked lizard and his housemate the cheeky tarsier are the latest stars of first direct’s ‘unexpected’ brand campaign. Conceived by JWT and directed by Outsider duo Dom & Nic, the new integrated campaign features CG creatures developed by MPC and builds on the success of the award winning ‘Barry the platypus’ ads.

Shot on 35mm film around hipster hangout the Truman Brewery in East London, the spot follows the quirky CG character who finds frustration in poor customer service, and recommends first direct bank as an antidote. MPC’s 3D team developed the Australian fauna, an intensive and detailed task due to the creatures' unconventional looks. 


Directors Dom & Nic said, “When the script is as good as this it’s easy for everyone to get excited and inspired, the only pressure was to make a worthy follow up to last years Platypus. I think we’ve achieved that and much more. The MPC team were right with us from the initial character design and development, taking on board our thoughts and bringing their own skills and ideas to that vision. The shoot was hectic as usual but with Jon supervising VFX we felt confident to improvise and adapt shots on location. Jon and the animation team really understood the idea of a human trapped in a lizard’s body and a tarsier DJ. Adam and the 2D team integrated the characters into the first direct black and white look seamlessly, graded impeccably again by Jean-Clément. There was time pressure as usual but Dionne and the producers managed the task without any fuss. Another great job and a fantastic team throughout the process.” 

VFX Detail

CG Supervisor Jon Park said, “Receiving the script for these unique creatures was intriguing to say the least - none of us had ever seen a frill necked lizard, let alone built one in 3D! We created Little Frill from the ‘best bits’ of the lizards we studied, giving him his own particular neck pattern and face shape. Our creatures are designed to look physically real, but creatively take on human characteristics in their mannerisms and movements.”

Little Frill spends all his time standing upright, which the lizard naturally wouldn't do. The team manipulated his body to stand in a human position; referencing footage of comedian Seann Walsh holding a giant phone recorded during his voiceover. It then became a balancing act between human and lizard performances for the animators.


Developing the tarsiers groom proved to be a challenge, as their fur is dense in areas and sparse in others. Proprietary software Furtility was used to develop the slightly scraggly look.

As the tarsier character doesn't speak, capturing details in her look were key to portraying her attitude. Tarsier’s eyes are naturally huge in comparison to the rest of their features (roughly the same size as their brains) and in the first shot they are seen in extreme close up, which required a lot of attention from the VFX team. Intricate textures and tears were added to enhance the eyes naturally watery appearance. In addition, specific attention was paid to the iris and the way light and shadow reacts to the surface. Adding almost imperceptible movements of the pupil and eyelids completed the realism. 




JWT London

Production Company



Dom & Nic

Executive Creative Director

Russell Ramsey

Creative Director

Jason Berry


Miles Bingham

Agency Producer

Carley Reynolds

Production Company Producer

John Madsen


Ed Cheeseman @ Final Cut


Gary Walker @ 750mph




Jean-Clément Soret



VFX Producer

Dionne Archibald

CG Supervisor

Jon Park

2D Supervisor

Adam Crocker

VFX Team

David Bryan, Nick Smalley, Fabian Frank, Chloe Dawe, Christiant Dalberto, Tom Van Drop, Adam Burnett, Mark Robinson, Mike Cosgrave, Emeric Larochette, Maurizio De Angelis, Mandy Mok, Fabio Bonvicini, Akshay Wadwalkar, Minju TS, Jacob Oommen & Ravinder Burla