Something Wild

Framestore CFC’s Commercials team has got a bit of a rep for raising the bar in digital VFX. Nowhere more so than in the case of the 3D team’s creature work, and the last few years have seen an ark-full of astonishing, photo-real creatures emerge from the 1st Floor of the company’s Noel Street building. Now, they’ve done it again, we’re proud to say, creating over 300 CG critters ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® six different species – for a new spot that celebrates the wildlife that comes out to play when football fever strikes.

Go Wild is the new pan-European commercial for Sure anti-perspirant for men. Created by Lowe and directed by Noam Murro for Biscuit Filmworks, the 60 second spot debuts in the UK on 3rd April 2006.

The spot is a smart double-take on the animal inside us all, showing a variety of urban scenes, wherein the boisterous soccer-fan fraternity are replaced by a variety of animals ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® eight species in all. We see them in the street, in bars, and on the underground. ‘Extreme protection,’ promises the tag, ‘That lets you go wild.’

Word got around about Go Wild ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® and bidding started ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® about six months ago. “We already had a name for doing animals when Go Wild came along,” recalls Andy Boyd, Head of 3D, Commercials, “And I promised myself that if we were going to do another big creature job, then it had to be of a quality never seen before in commercials.”

VFX Supervisor Stephane Allender spent 10 days with the spot’s Director, Noam Murro and Director of Photography, Toby Irwin on location in Buenos Aires, preparing for the four-day shoot. This essential groundwork involved on-set compositing on a laptop (using Adobe Premiere) to test some takes, such as the Orang Utan/taxi window shot. Two days before the shoot, Andy Boyd, who also created location sketches in Maya on a laptop, joined Allender. The team were granted wide access by the Buenos Aires authorities to shoot wherever they wanted, and both Allender and Boyd were impressed by Murro’s energy and spontaneity, “He worked incredibly fast and extremely effectively on the fly, spotting opportunities for possible shots all over the place,” remembers Allender.

Meanwhile, Dale Newton, who headed the animation team, was blocking out and refining the animation. Of the challenges facing his team, Newton says, “The creatures had to remain fundamentally animal whilst performing some distinctly human tasks, all the time retaining the audience’s suspense of disbelief. Creature animation is all about physicality and weight ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® balanced, of course, with the need to communicate the story.”

In the three weeks following the Buenos Aires backplates shoot Allender, working with CG sketched creatures, created some rough comps as preparation for the animal shoot at Universal Studios in LA. This featured just 11 live animals, but was more technically demanding than that in Buenos Aires, as precise matching of all the camera angles, lenses, lighting setups etc. was essential. Recalls Allender, “(DoP) Toby Irwin really grasped the need to recreate outdoor, natural light in the studio, rather than aiming for ‘pretty’ animal shots. It was crucial to the technical success of the film.”

Go Wild features those 11 real beasts transformed into 137 ‘real’ (ie Inferno-cloned) creatures, which are in turn joined by some 302 purely CG animals. Of the eight creatures seen in the spot, two (the Orang-Utan and the Hyenas) were the product of real animals being multiplied in the Inferno, two (the sea lions and penguins) were purely the creation of the 3D team, and the remaining four (bison, mandrill, chimp and bear) were a blend of real animals and digital duplicates.

Allender, using a flexible combination of 2D and 3D elements, gradually built up the scenes. This mixture of live action and 3D ?Äì and the options to choose whichever worked best ?Äì were another key to the success of the project. For example, the crowd of mandrills on the sidewalk waiting for their pal to come down were initially done using shots of the real creature. Murro decided that they were too inert, so they were replaced by a CG group who offered more interaction.

“We had a weekly conference call with everyone, to share feedback and ideas,” says Allender (Murro was abroad throughout the post process), “Adjustments to animation were made following those. The agency and the director seemed to trust us completely – to the point where it was up to us to populate the scenes with the creatures, virtual or not. It was a fantastic creative experience for the team.”

One last element that helped to bring it all together was the Telecine, created by Senior Colourist Steffan Perry. The grade was a discrete, non-showy one, and Perry’s role was to keep the look filmic and real.

The result of all this labour is a 60 second spot featuring more animals than your average David Attenborough documentary, and a real sense of accomplishment from a 3D team that continues to surprise everyone ?Äì even themselves!

Go Wild Credits
Agency Lowe
Copywriter Tom Hudson
Art Director Lee Goulding
Agency Producer Charles Crisp
Production Company Biscuit Filmworks
Director Noam Murro
Producers Richard Packer (Independent), Holly Vega & Jay Veal (Biscuit Filmworks)

For Framestore CFC

VFX Supervisor / Inferno Stephane Allender
CGI Supervisor / TD Andy Boyd
Lead Animator Dale Newton
Senior Technical Directors Dan Seddon, Simon Stoney,
Technical Directors David Mellor, James Healy, Michele Fabbro
Animators Nicklas Andersson, Kate Hood, Dean Robinson, Luca Mazzoleni, Brad Silby, Craig Penn, Vincent Devay, Laurent Benhamo
Modeling Alex Doyle, Simon French
Matte Artists Dasha Ashley, Nicha Kumkeaw
Inferno Assistant Chris Redding
3D Assistant Paul Jones
Telecine Steffan Perry
Producer Abby Orchard

View the Commercial Here (Quicktime)

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