No Restrictions is a beautiful, exuberant new spot created for South African telecommunications company, Neotel. Designed to emphasise the freedom from the old restrictions that the company can offer its clients, the spot takes human and animal icons from South African prohibition signs and liberates them via some nifty CG animation. The spot was created by South African agency TBWAHunt Lascaris and directed by Jeremy Holden for Riverstone Films. Framestore created hundreds of digitally animated figures for No Restrictions, as well as the spot’s telecine.
Anyone familiar with the South African urban environment will tell you that the ‘No’ sign is a pretty constant feature, from ‘No Crossing’ to ‘No Photography’, signs telling you what you can’t do have always loomed large in the country’s consciousness. Neotel is competing with state monopolist Telkom, whose copper wire-based infrastructure is aging rapidly.
Neotel wanted a way of illustrating the speed and freedom that their new, fibre optic technology offers, and the idea of the sign figures breaking free was born. Aware of the company’s work in 2005 on Hector’s Life for Renault Espace, which won numerous international awards, the director producer team at Riverstone Films approached Framestore with their director treatment. But Hector involved just one paper figure – No Restrictions had a much more ambitious brief.
Opening with a couple of establishing shots of the city, No Restrictions starts off with a single figure peeping around a street corner. As he steps out he throws off the last scrap of the red ‘No’ strip. He passes a caf?¬¨¬© window with a ‘No Dogs’ sign, and the dog scurries out (with the aid of the proprietor’s broom), bowling into a ‘No Hawking’ sign’s figure, who has set up his stall outside the caf?¬¨¬©. From there we cut from scene to scene of our ‘No’ people enjoying all of the activities that have hitherto been disallowed them – ball games, cycling, skateboarding, swimming, and so on. The icons are able to do whatevery they want, “We’re often told what we can’t do,” says the voiceover, “Today, we’re telling you that you can.”
A three day shoot took place in Durban earlier this year to capture the raw plates and essential lighting information, attended for Framestore by VFX Supervisor Simon French and Inferno Artist Jonathan Hairman. Subsequent post production on the spot took some 12 weeks.
“Hector notwithstanding, this spot provided plenty of unique challenges,” reflects French, “And there was quite a bit of R&D spadework that addressed these. The initial brief was for the figures to be made of a variety of materials, for example, although client choices eventually whittled this down somewhat.”
“In addition,” French continues, “There were issues around what worked visually – what the eye could accept as a workable view of how these 2D figures would interact with their 3D environment, for example, and how best to represent the side view of a 2D figure walking.”
Compositing the figures, as well as complementing the environments with touches such as reflections in the window glass and the creation of a warm looking sunset glow at the end, were Inferno Artists Jonathan Hairman and George Roper. The neg was graded by Dave Ludlam, with final DCP duties handled by Steffan Perry.
Mike Mellor, Lead Animator for the spot, adds, “There are a couple of shots toward the end of the spot where the screen fills up with our little guys. I think we underestimated just how many of them it would take to make the shots work – we’d been thinking a few dozen, but they needed a couple of hundred by the end.”
AGENCY: TBWAHunt Lascaris
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Riverstone Films
DIRECTOR: Jeremy Holden
PRODUCER: Saffron Doran