Framestore Creates Multilingual Lip Synced Animals For 57 Arla Spots
Framestore is nearing completion on a six-month production, directed by Sonny London's Guy Manwaring, for an Arla dairy TV campaign. The production saw Framestore's VFX team lip synch over 10 animal muzzles across 57 commercials. Launching across Europe later this month, new spots will air on a weekly basis until June 2012. The campaign takes a fly-on-the-wall look at an imaginary farm full of talking animals. Although talking animals are but a fantasy, Framestore's brief was to make the animals look as realistic as possible.
Due to the vast scale of the campaign, it would not have been efficient to create entirely CG animals. So the animals were shot on location and directed to give the correct 'performances' in terms of positioning, movements and bodily reactions. This meant that the lipsync could be achieved by recreating only the muzzles in CG and compositing onto the live action animals. Only two creatures – the squirrel and chaffinch – were created entirely in CG.
After supervising the first two weeks of the five-week shoot in South Africa, Framestore’s VFX supervisors, Simon French and Pedro Sabrosa, returned to London to set about creating the muzzles for a range of animals: cows, bulls, goats, sheep, donkeys, dogs and a goose. “We started with one of the cow muzzles,” explains Simon French. “Then we pushed the topology around to make it suitable for other animals. This approach enabled us to create all but the goose and the dog from the same original model and therefore allowed us to share much of the time-consuming work that goes into grooming and texturing a CG creature." Framestore was trusted to get on with the VFX work, despite the agency and director being tied-up with the continuing shoot in South Africa.
The team created authentic lip synch for the campaign’s various languages, from Polish to Russian, by filming reference material of multilingual actors speaking the animals’ lines. This production saw Framestore trial The Foundry’s new conforming and asset management software, Hiero. The software proved invaluable in managing background plates for each of the 57 spots. “Hiero helped us manage all of the information and put it in the right place,” said producer, Emma Malpass. “As we hadn’t used it before, it was a leap of faith on our part. But The Foundry was great at listening to our feedback and tweaking the software accordingly.”
The muzzles and CG squirrel were built and rigged in Maya, and fur was added using a commercials implementation of the in-house fur system. The CG chaffinch also gave Framestore an excellent opportunity to use its new proprietary Houdini feather system, as pioneered for the Axe Anarchy campaign.