Mill Utilise 3D/Shake Pipeline to Seamless Effect for Orange

The Mill and production company Blinkink have recently completed a series of effortlessly brilliant idents for Orange. This broadcast sponsorship series is running alongside the new print and commercial campaign advertising the new Orange phone tariffs entitled Raccoon, Canary, Dolphin and Panther.

The idents were directed by Kalle Hagland for Mother through Blinkink, and reference the print campaign which features helium ballons of the four animals behaving in an unusal, contrary way. The print stills set the tone for the idents and the basic idea was to create a visually more complex, moving version of the images. For example, in Raccoon ‘Lift’, you see a balloon bobbing through the ait carrying a garden shed on a piece of string.

In order to create the effects Kalle wanted The Mill to experiment with technologies that hadn’t yet been fully utilised on other productions. This was both incredibly challenging and exciting as a new CG dynamics pipeline was created which is now unique to The Mill.

After a period of analysis and research The Mill’s 3D team decided to build a digital version of the environment featured in the print campaign, using photographic references and measurements of everything contained within the set. Blinkink organised a shoot using the same photographer as the stills campaign to gain all the information they needed instead of using a film crew and shooting everything in camera.

The benefits of this approach were two-fold. Firstly, the 3D team were able to reconstruct 100% of the interior of the room and place the CG objects in a highly accurate scene. Secondly, they also had a perfect match to the print campaign. Essentially they had placed the print campaign inside a computer and made it come to life, therefore achieving the brief exactly.

On top of this very demanding process the 3D team decided to adopt a completely realistic route and use computer simulations to animate the various objects. This meant building a golf buggy, with all the suspension mechanics and driving capabilities. The other elements like the shed and the shoes were also physically correct.

This enabled the department to run real time simulations of the animated physical objects like the buggy. This meant the director could watch the different reactions the buggy had when bouncing against the walls or floor etc. He could then be selective and refine the movements to his exact specification. Every simulation setup was providing the team with the ability to run 20 different versions in a matter of minutes and hence discover discrepancies and glitches which meant the process was a valuable explorative one as opposed to a traditional animation route.

Whilst the 3D team were working on the simulations a team of modelers and texture artists were working on the final versions of every single element. Everything from the shed to the shoes and the speakers was modeled with as much detail as possible to allow the team to move the camera as close or as far away from them as desired, allowing for fantastic flexibility in the workflow. The shoes were particularly demanding as the smallest details had to be added like the threads that hold together the different pieces of leather.

Once the animation and models were finished and rendered, the lighting team did a huge amount of work to make sure the elements sat correctly into the scene. They managed to finish 12 different versions of the commercial with multiple passes for the Shake compositors to put together.

It became clear to the shake compositing department that this job was all about detail. Every tiny shadow or reflection doesn’t count for much on its own, but when you add them all up it can mean the difference between photoreal or not!

At first this project looked like a deceptively simple task for the compositing team but in fact it was a challenge from start to finish. Shake was the perfect tool to achieve these effects given the need to give the 3D department total flexibility and constant and timely feedback on new renders.

Genarts edge rays were used to create ‘fake volumetric lighting’ and live action dust elements were added to give depth and add atmosphere to the clinical environments which worked to great effect. A slight camera move was added to give everything a gentle hand held feel, naturally to suggest it was shot in camera.

The creation of a fluid pipeline between Shake and CG is essential to the productivity and creative output of the 3D department. Shake works more efficiently with heavy and constant CG renders, especially considering the volume of work. This project involved 12 x 15 second spots, created entirely out of CG and containing up to 25-30 separate passes for each spot. Essentially The Mill’s 3D & Shake department implemented a small feature film pipeline to achieve the results.

Finally all the films were subtly mastergraded in Telecine to create the seamless final films.

View the spot here!

The Mill, London
40-41 Great Marlborough Street
Soho, London W1F 7JQ
+44 20 7287 4041
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The Mill, New York
451 Broadway 5th floor
New York NY 10013
+1 212 337 3210
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