Do Not Adjust Your Head

A man lies comfortably on a spa table, his body wrapped in plastic; his right eye is covered by a slice of lemon, his left by a slice of lime. An attendant starts a slow drip of refreshing Sprite into his open mouth, but carelessly jostles the apparatus as she leaves. As the tasty soft drink drips onto his forehead, the spa patron manages to shake off the lime slice, revealing a second, smaller mouth in place of his left eye. That vaguely unsettling scenario is Spa TV, just one spot in ‘Sublymonal Advertising’, a quirky new campaign for Sprite created by ad agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Framestore NY and directed by Happy.

“We initially signed on for one HD cinema spot and three 30-second television spots,” explains James Razzall, Senior Producer at Framestore NY. “Everybody was having so much fun with these wild scenarios that we ended up doing two 60-second and one 30-second cinema spots, three 30-second television spots and a whole bunch of stuff for the web. It’s become a truly crazy interactive campaign in which people watching on DV-R or Tivo can go through the spots frame-by-frame and discover hidden scenes and codes for the website.”

“The ‘Sublymonal’ campaign involved very fast edits of seemingly unconnected images and striking scenarios reflecting the union of lemon and lime,” says Murray Butler, Framestore NY’s Senior VFX Supervisor on the campaign. “We had a extremely varied effects brief which included cleaning up sumo wrestlers, making animatronic flowers appear more believable, creating tiny nurses and putting a mouth where an eye should be. Suffice it to say, it’s been an amazing experience.

Amazing is right. Sumo TV opens with the incongruous vision of a green Sumo wrestler running through a dark forest. A disembodied electronic voice identifies him as ‘Lime’. From the other direction comes another Sumo wrestler, this time yellow. The same voice calls him ‘Lemon’. As the two race towards each other, the scene intermittently shifts to two Volkswagen Beetles – one green, one yellow – also racing towards one another against a sunny seaside backdrop. On a lonely tree stump between the rapidly converging wrestlers, a young man in a powder blue tuxedo suddenly and inexplicably appears, just in time to have his head sandwiched in between the ample bellies of the two wrestlers. The impact sets off a rush of lemon-lime (‘lymon’) imagery as the aforementioned cars merge into one another.

“The VW Beetles were my biggest challenge,” says Butler. “The 3D cars were created using Autodesk Maya and had to appear as if they were going to crash. Using Discreet Flame, I recreated the entire scene using projection maps, which allowed me control the camera movement together with the speed and position of the cars. I regraded the single lemon car to create a second lime car, then used a combination of morphing effects and sparks to create the ripple as they merge into one another.”

Still another spot, entitled Defibrillator, has a formally dressed young woman collapsing on to a flight of stone steps. Coming to her rescue is a miniature ambulance bearing a green and yellow cross on its side. Two tiny nurses emerge from the diminutive vehicle and attach electrodes to a large lemon and lime. Using defibrillator paddles, they apply electrified lymon to the young woman’s parched tongue. A rush of lemon-lime imagery revives and refreshes the young woman.

“We composited a blue screen sequence involving the girl and the nurses, again using Flame,” says Butler. “That effect involved matching the depth of field on the foreground plates to our plates of the helpful nurses. We also animated the girls tongue to wobble as they ‘revived’ it. Making this campaign work also meant assembling a lot of different elements created from HD 35mm footage, NTSC 8mm footage, 16mm shots, stock shots, tiff files and others. We also versioned HD cinema masters, television and web versions, all at different resolutions and aspect ratios. It was a big job.”

This spot is the latest in a series of collaborations between Framestore NY and Happy, starting with Wrigley’s ‘Dog’ and including work for Skittles, Wendys, Brawny, Full Throttle and Adidas.

About Framestore CFC
Framestore CFC is the largest visual effects and computer animation studio in Europe, with over 20 years of experience in digital film and video technology.

The company has won numerous international awards including two Technical Academy Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, three BAFTA Craft Awards and eleven Primetime Emmy Awards.

The company’s movie portfolio includes work on such films as ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’, ‘Troy’, ‘Layer Cake’, ‘Thunderbirds’, ‘Enduring Love’, ‘Cold Mountain’, ‘Love Actually’, ‘Bright Young Things’ and ‘Underworld’.

Recent television work includes ‘Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets’, ‘Sea Monsters’, ‘The Giant Claw’ and ‘Land of Giants’ (Walking With Dinosaurs specials) and ‘Dinotopia’.

Among Framestore CFC’s notable commercial credits are Renault Espace ‘Hector’s Life’, Audi ‘Illusions’, Johnnie Walker ‘Tree’, the Post Office ‘Ant’ commercials, Johnnie Walker ‘Fish’, Levi’s ‘Odyssey’, Audi ‘Drink Like a Fish’, Xbox ‘Mosquito’ and Guinness ‘Surfer’.

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