The Best Work You May Never See: Mad Ruffian Tells Rescue Dog’s Story For Secondhand Hounds


Robert Goldrich
Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018


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Secondhand Hounds has launched “True Rescue Stories,” an online and social campaign aimed at building brand awareness and to highlight the happy endings achieved when placing rescue dogs in secure, loving homes. 

In this CG animated film--the first episode of True Rescue Stories--created by production company mad Ruffian and post house Ruffian Post, we meet one-eyed rescue dog Lenny whose story is one of a true adoption. In this narrated film, a couple foster a rescue dog, who arrives for his short, temporary stay in urgent need of feeding and bathing. After tending to his needs, they wait for Lenny’s prospective new adoptive family to arrive, and come up with multiple reasons why they should permanently adopt their adorable canine friend themselves.

The arrival of the visitors reveals a little boy who immediately bonds with Lenny. It’s a perfect match, and a happy ending for the rescue dog as the foster family sees that it’s right for them to relinquish Lenny to the lad.

The CG animated film is intended to feel homemade and hand-crafted.  To achieve this, the characters were designed and modeled to look like antique dolls while Lenny is textured like a rugged stuffed toy. The textures of the environments are all something that could be found in a craft box--from paper grass to wooden tongue depressor fences.  Although not true stop frame animation, but made to look it, the film uses motion capture to animate all the human characters which allowed Mad Ruffian to try out lots of different performance ideas quickly in real-time.

Sally Mars, who commissioned the film for Secondhand Hounds, said of it, “I am overwhelmed by how charming it is. It’s unique, original, exceptional.”

Secondhand Hounds is a not for profit animal rescue in Minnesota. Their volunteers have placed over 16,000 dogs and cats since their conception, making a positive impact on the lives of many dogs and cats in the community. The organization provides safe shelter, veterinary care and daily necessities for animals at risk, while working hard to find each one a permanent, loving home.

Speaking on her debut as solo director for Mad Ruffian, Amanda Jones said: “I truly loved working on this film. It’s always a rare opportunity to really get to tell a story in a commercial context, and for me, nothing is worth making if it has no heart so, at every point, that was my goal.  Where we usually do a lot of VFX work and try new technologies (which, of course we couldn’t help but do a little on this), I wanted to go back to the basics with this - hence the style - sort of a homemade/DIY/stop frame feel.  It was both rewarding and a challenge and it felt great to let our hair down!”


Client Secondhand Hounds Production/Visual Effects/Animation Mad Ruffian and Mad Ruffian Post, London Amanda Jones, director/producer/VFX producer; Mad Ruffian, story animation; Christopher Watson-Wood, VFX supervisor and motion capture; Toby Williams-Ellis, CG supervisor; Michel Denis da Silva, character animation; Oscar Hill, lighting & rendering; Felipe Bassi, character design; Frank Eagan, character textures; Igor Pichardo, character rigging; Gökçecan Gürsoy, compositor; Max van Leeuwen, CG R&D/scene development. (Toolbox: Houdini, Maya, Nuke, After Effects, Octane) Creative Sally Mars, writer

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