Refinement. Some of the best looking VFX work out there comes not from radical new tricks or expensive kit, but from the simple refinement of existing techniques – craft, in other words.
Following on from the recent success for Next of the Ali’s Party spot, director Ben Hume-Paton and producer David Hay for Love have come up with Nextmas, in which we follow the further adventures of supermodel and quick change artiste Alessandra Ambrosia and her new beau (Paul Sculfor), as they enjoy a festive evening out on the town.
As before, Flame Supervision for Framestore CFC was by Stephane Allender. A seasoned compositor and VFX Supervisor, Allender has found that these Next spots have offered him the perfect opportunity to refine one of the many visual tropes that digital technology has made possible. Transformations – where the actors and environments in a scene can be changed in half the blink of an eye, without interrupting the action – have been practised by digital artists for many years now. “The trick is not just to do it,” confides Allender, “But to do it better than anyone else has.”
Supervising the shoot in Edinburgh for Framestore CFC was Creative Director, Mike McGee. “It took us three nights to get all the material we needed,” says McGee, “We decorated a 200m stretch of Prince’s Street in full winter and Christmas finery, though this was also enhanced by Stephane during post. Ben (Hume-Paton) was keen to build on the first commercial (Ali’s Party) in terms of the sophistication of the ways in which we could weave the clothing switches seamlessly into the action.”
In the spot’s 60 second incarnation, we first catch sight of our heroine as she readies herself for her date. Her boyfriend is waiting outside, but she turns down a ride on the back of his motorbike in favour of a bus. Alighting in a busy high street, the couple walk past a branch of Next before arriving at their destination, a festively decked out restaurant. We cut to them leaving, and – to the couple’s delight – it has begun to snow outside. As all of this action proceeds swiftly along, Alessandra manages to change her outfit numerous times, as does her partner. Even in one ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ moment the mannequins in the Next window get in on the quick change action.
Built into this snappily shot and edited series of scenes is a sense of constant motion. Having both camera and heroine rarely still worked dramatically, to convey a sense of all the work of setting up, but it also helped Allender to better do his job. “Ben was a superb choreographer of the transition moments,” says Allender, “They had to look as natural as possible, and could be helped considerably by having plenty of movement occurring at the instant of change. We had an initial meeting during which we described to Ben the sort of material that would work best, and he took that and really ran with it.” Telecine on the spot was provided by Framestore CFC colourist, Steffan Perry.
Production Company Love
Director Ben Hume-Paton
Producer David Hay
For Framestore CFC
Shoot Supervisor Mike McGee
Flame Artist Stephane Allender
Rotoscope Laura Ingram, Savneet Nagi
Colourist Steffan Perry
Producer Abby Orchard