Framestore NY, the visual effects and animation studio known for stunning character animation and visual effects in television commercials and feature films, recently created two spectacular, funny takes on household disasters for Hoover vacuum cleaners and Minneapolis-based ad agency Martin|Williams Advertising.
For ‘Spill’ and ‘Dogs,’ the Framestore NY creative team drew on their extensive 2D, 3D, and compositing experience to minutely detail what happens when a drop of red wine hits a snow white carpet, and metaphorically represent what happens every time a dog shakes itself off.
‘The team at Martin|Williams really wanted things to be colorful and funny,’ says Murray Butler, Visual Effects Supervisor and Lead Flame Artist at Framestore NY. ‘We took them at their word. These spots are certainly a bit of a departure for Hoover, but everyone is very happy with the results.’
MOTHER OF ALL SPILLS
True to its title, ‘Spill’ opens in a pristinely white room where a beautiful woman is reading a magazine. Reaching a bit too energetically for her glass of red wine, the woman causes the ruby liquid to slosh around which in turn sends a single drop cascading over the rim of the glass. Descending towards the white shag carpet, the drop explodes ferociously into millions of tiny red droplets, sending stains billowing across every tendril of carpet and erupting into a ruby red vision. Fortunately for the clumsy woman, the shadow of the Hoover SteamVac All-Terrain quickly descends over the red stain, removing any trace of its existence.
‘We worked hard to achieve this sort of exponential reaction from a single drop into a catastrophe,’ says Butler. ‘We took careful note of the angles that we needed to match for the most realistic effect. For ultimate realism, we actually used an HD camera to shoot the initial impact of the drip at approximately 2000 frames per second. We then brought that super high-speed live action together with the CG spill we created using Autodesk Maya. We used Autodesk Flame and Sapphire Sparks to add light effects, lens flares, and camera shake to heighten the mood. All the drips in the spill are CG, but in the next shot, they are live action. I think it safe to say that no one would be able to tell the difference, which is a testament to our animators.’
The perfectionist Framestore NY team also filmed powerful blasts of compressed air across the carpet at super high-speed, allowing them to include a blast blowing back the carpet fibers. The effect is both astonishing and amusing.
Framestore NY artist Andy Walker commented, ‘With nine CG wine-based shots to deliver in a very short turnaround, from detail shots, droplets, to full screen tumultuous cascading wine, we chose to create our fluid simulations using custom designed, fluid choreographing tools, rather than the “hit and hope” physical simulation technique available out of the box. This allowed us to accommodate both minute and dramatic changes in concept and direction right up to the deadline. We utilized Mentalray’s excellent ray tracing power to make wine which held its own side by side with practical effects, giving us the ability to accurately, physically match the look of the wine and heavy depth of field.’
TO THE DOGS
In ‘Dogs,’ an immense, shaggy, and dripping wet Newfoundland lumbers into the same pristine white room before deciding to shake off the excess moisture on his luxuriant coat. As he goes into full shake, however, the gentle giant explodes into a dozen or so much smaller, blacker version of himself, all of them accompanied by floating tufts of hair. Just as the playful puppies begin to lay waste to the room, however, they are gently lifted skyward by the bright red Hoover logo, returning the room to its original spotless state.
‘Initially, the client wanted to do the dog transformation entirely in 3D,’ says Butler. ‘We had a look and decided it would both cheaper and faster to shoot real dogs, and then move on from there. The only way to get the dog to shake was to keep wetting him down. Once we got the right shake, as it were, we used a grease pencil to draw his shape and the directions that the his shake would logically go in.’
In order to create a realistic representation of the puppies ‘spraying’ across the room, the Framestore NY team donned black gloves and gently tossed the small dogs in appropriate directions, then marked the carpet where each landed. Put your mind at ease, though; no dogs were harmed in the creation of this spot.
‘We used a stuffed dog for the most extreme positions in the frame,’ says Butler. ‘We were very careful with the cute little dogs and didn’st want anyone to get hurt. We also shot a great deal of hair-like fibers against greenscreen. We used Flame particle generator to augment all these wispy strands in the air.’
For the concluding shot, which sees the little dogs rising up into the sky, harnesses were initially proposed, only to prove too uncomfortable for the dogs. Eventually, the dog trainers put on green gloves and simply help the small dogs up and a fan beneath the scene created that appropriate effect. ‘We moved them around playfully,’ says Butler. ‘After a while, they started to really like the action.’
The end sequence for this campaign was created by Superfad.
Framestore CFC opened its New York office in January 2004, with the aim of building on its burgeoning international reputation with U.S. agencies. Early 2005 found Framestore NY relocating to new premises on Spring Street, SoHo?‚àö√ë¬¨‚àÇ complete with roof meadow!
The caliber of work produced out of the office has gone from strength to strength with spots created for Axe, Coke, FedEx, Discover Card, Pepsi, Sprite, Dodge and Playstation, in addition to the creation of a nine spot campaign rebranding the Geico gecko.
Framestore NY awards collection includes a 2006 Emmy for Best Primetime Commercial for FedEx ‘Stick.’ In 2007, Framestore NY picked up a Visual Effects Society Awards show honor for Geico ‘Chat’ in the ‘Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Broadcast Program, Commercial or Music Video’ category.
ABOUT FRAMESTORE CFC
Framestore CFC was formed in December 2001 through the union of two of the most creative and dynamic companies in the industry: FrameStore and The Computer Film Company (CFC). The company is now the largest visual effects and computer animation company in Europe, with over 30 years of combined experience in digital film and video technology.
Credits Hoover ‘Dogs’ :30
Agency: Martin | Williams
ECD: Tom Moudry
Head of Production: Stan Prinsen
Writer / CD: Julie Kucinski
Art Director: Toby Balai
Producer: Sean Healey
Acct Mgmt: Julie Vessel, Erin Kearns
Production Co: Rabbit Content
Director: Lieven Van Baelen
DP: Glynn Speeckaert
EP: Mike Brady, Douglas Howell
HP: Betsy Blakemore,
Line Producer: Christian Allen
Production Services (Vancouver): The Offices at CMC
Editorial: Lost Planet
Editor: Charlie Johnston
Producer: Wade Weliever
Asst Editor: Dominic LaPerriere
Colorist: Billy Gabor, CO3 NY
VFX: Framestore, NY
VFX Supervisor: Murray Butler
Producer: Satoko Iinuma
Flame artists – Dave Elkins, Mindy Dubin, Tom Leckie, Talia Marash
Motion Graphics: Superfad, NY
EP: Kevin Batten, Geraint Owen
Director / Designer: Michael Wiehart
Producer: Amy Selwocki, Jojo Mu
Music: Squirrels on the Moon, Minneapolis
Composer: Jeff Lorentzen
Sound Design: Machine Head, Santa Monica
Mix: Sound Lounge, NY
Mixer: Rob Sayers