Framestore Generates Some Buzz
Playing classic animation sight gags for real, Buzz, a new spot for Sony Playstation, is a rollicking evocation of the cartoon antics of yesteryear.
A Dad has joined three kids for a Playstation game – one of the Buzz! Junior range of titles, using the Buzz! Buzzer handsets. Sitting on the couch behind the kids, he little realises what’s in store for him. As the action grows more frantic the kids play on, oblivious to what’s happening behind them, as Framestore CFC’s wizards put Dad through the digital wringer. To music and sound effects evocative of animation’s Golden Age, Dad’s jaw drops a foot, his head spins around with his neck twisting upwards like clay, and he’s bounced around like a superball. He then collapses on to the couch, deflating like a balloon, with steam coming out of his ears, finally reflating back to normal just before the kids look round.
For VFX Supervisor Stephane Allender, the spot was a great opportunity to give his 2D chops a work out. “Completely 3D solutions would have upped the budget, and besides, I realised that what the client needed could be accomplished in 2D,” says Allender, “Working with the director, I tried to come up with a variety of approaches – both on the shoot and in post – that would give Sara the results she wanted.”
Studio and location shoot were completed in two days, and Allender completed work on the spot over a further two week period. “My research included watching a lot of cartoons – strictly for reference purposes,” laughs Allender. He stresses that improvisation was a key element of the work, both on the shoot and when posting the work – trying things out and seeing what worked. When Dad’s feet appear to have bent upwards and are pummelling him around the head, the close-up effect was simply achieved by dressing a pair of arms in trousers, socks and shoes.
Before the shoot Allender tested different speeds at which the raw material could be shot. Shooting at 3 or 5 frames per second is a very effective way of creating in-camera motion blur. The shots of Dad bouncing around in mid-air were shot like this, with just the actor’s wire removal needed to create a great look. The deflation at the end was a simple inflatable doll – bought online for ¬¨¬®¬¨¬£20 – and dressed in the clothes. The actor then created the flop down on to the couch and the two were married in Flame. Other effects – the jaw dropping, for example – relied on the soundtrack to sell the comedy aspect of them: with the wrong music the Flame generated distortion would simply have looked grotesque.
The spot’s Telecine was also created at Framestore CFC. Says Colourist Matt Turner, “The spot had been beautifully lit by DoP Antonio Paladino, so complementing what was on the neg was my first priority.”
It all goes to show that, just as in the case of the classic cartoons, the old fashioned approach can create work that looks as good – or better – than that created with the latest hi-tech kit.
Sony Playstation ‘Buzz’
Client Sony Playstation
Production Company Home Corp
Director Sara Dunlop
Producer Stu Bentham
Agency Producers Gemma Woodiwiss / Karen Hughes
Creative Tom Chancellor
For Framestore CFC
VFX Supervisor and Operator Stephane Allender
3D Jean Louis Billard
Telecine Matt Turner
Post Producer Abby Orchard