Milford Animation Studios creates award‑winning animated commercials

Showreel by Milford


Our customer – Milford Animation Studios – is an award-winning studio in Stockholm, specializing in animated commercials. They have created animations for world-famous companies such as CocaCola, IKEA, Nike, Very, EA, Disney and Vodafone.

We had the pleasure of talking to two of the key people at Milford Animation Studios, and of course, we took the opportunity to ask about one of their many impressive projects. We also asked them about their workflow, which tools they rely on, and how Covid-19 has affected their work.

John Roxenhed co-founded Milford almost 20 years ago. He’s now their CG Supervisor, a role that he describes as “a little less hands-on” and instead more control of the production.

Oskar Wahlberg, VFX Supervisor and Head of CG at Milford, has worked at the studio for approximately 5 years. He says that he got interested in film effects and 3D in general in his teens. Now he has almost 30 years of experience in the industry and in various 3D software. 

A series of animated commercials with incredible visual storytelling

Q: Tell us about one of your previous projects!

We had a really fun project with Galbusera – an Italian brand producing crackers and biscuits based on exclusive recipes to meet changing nutrional, control and food safety requirements. In this project, we worked with an Italian production company called Movie Magic, and the Italian advertising agency VMLY&R was the client.

In this project, we did all the traditional steps: visual development, story development, assets, animation, lighting, and rendering.

It was a large campaign, where we produced a series of a seven animated commercials that were broadcast on TV in Italy. We also produced marketing materials for stores and online events. The project run over a period of around one and a half years.

One of the commercials for Galbusera that was broadcast on TV in Italy.

Q: What did the client give you as a starting point to work with?

This was a very fun project, as we had a very open dialogue. The advertising agency, which of course took care of the campaign itself in general, had defined what the length of the films would be, how many films and the focus of the films.

From there on, we developed the story itself, the characters, and the visuals in the films. But we have of course – as always when we’re collaborating with external parties – been very responsive to any input such as design proposals, environments, values and other things.

Q: Did you face any difficult challenges during the project? 

We were happy that we got to have such a long collaboration with Movie Magic and Galbusera. The further into the project we came, the better insight the customer gained. We managed to teach them more and more about the possibilities and the process itself. Towards the end, they spontaneously returned with extra orders for prints, online media, and more. It was a pleasure to see that transformation.

One of the commercials for Galbusera that was broadcast on TV in Italy.

Q: Was it a successful project?

It was a very successful campaign. And the proof of that is that they came back so many times and wanted to make more commercials. The campaign was very successful and appreciated in Italy. And for Galbusera, it contributed to increased sales, which of course was the main goal.

This is what Milford's workflow looks like

Q: What software do you use and why did you choose them?

We use Autodesk Maya in the first stages of production, which include asset production, modeling, texturing and rigging. We also do all the animation in Maya.

And the reason for that is basically that we started with Maya back in the days, and the fact is that Maya is the industry standard when it comes to animation. So for us, it would have been difficult to replace that tool. Most of the talents out there use Maya. 

"We are very satisfied with the rigging features in Maya. We haven't found any tool that competes with Maya in ease of use for our animators when it comes to rigging."

Simulations, visual effects, lighting and rendering are done in Houdini. We also use Substance 3D Texturing for the actual texturing work. We use Adobe Photoshop in the initial creation phase, and in the very last delivery of still images, prints, etc.

Autodesk ShotGrid is a very central tool for our business. We book tasks in ShotGrid. All assets are in ShotGrid. We usually present our daily reviews there. We even log our working hours in ShotGrid. We have built some own things in-house to be able to do that, which means that we have very good budget control and insight into how much time is spent on what.

Then we head over to Houdini to do things like fabric simulation, visual effects and lighting. And we use Nuke for post-production and comp. It gives us a lot of flexibility where we can make versions and change things like textures in post. 

How did the pandemic affect Milford?

Q: How has the pandemic affected your work over these past years?

It got a little chaotic in early 2020, when the pandemic hit. Some productions were paused because people did not really know what was going to happen.

We’ve followed  the recommendations from Sweden’s Public Health Agency to work from home. It has worked surprisingly well. Of course, it was a change that was a bit tricky: to suddenly do everything remotely and not be able to go and tap someone on the shoulder and discuss ideas.

Initially, it was a pretty heavy load to pull, especially for administration and management to keep track of everything that happened. But we got used to the new way of working quickly, and now it works very smoothly.

ShotGrid, and everything we do with e.g. dailies there, facilitated very much. We could continue working the same way remotely, as we did from the office. Thanks to the fact that we had already implemented ShotGrid, there was nothing new that needed to be introduced to anyone. 

Q: Has the pandemic changed how you will work in the future?

Absolutely, it will be a little different compared to before the pandemic. There is no need to be at the office from 9-18 every day. It will be a more flexible work situation for many of us.

Milford on the collaboration with Creative Tools

Milford Animation Studio has been a customer to us at Creative Tools for several years. We have delivered software licenses, and have, among other things, ensured that they have the most cost-effective licensing model for their needs and an optimized license park. They tell us that they think the collaboration with us works great.

"Creative Tools were very helpful when we had some challenges with new licensing models and so on. We appreciate that a lot. Top marks to you!"