"The technology can put the character in any live situation, walking the red carpet, into the pit of a NASCAR race," says Mars North America spokesman Ryan Bowling. "We don't have to worry about free rendering the character; this technology allows us to take advantage of short lead opportunities as well as putting the character in environments we couldn't before."
BBDO, New York creative directors Tim Bayne and Lauren Connelly are behind the project, which uses a proprietary, Mars-owned motion control system, voice recognition and Bluetooth technologies. Mars' icon—an actress wearing a motion capture suit and a headset—will work alongside an animator manipulating the character's facial expressions with a joystick. That footage will at some point be joined via satellite with the main feed and broadcast as a whole. Mars, BBDO and partner Semerad Effects have been fine-tuning the technology for six months, mostly to correct the size of the character, which appears about two feet high on the set.