Framestore Creates Photoreal CG Animals for Dante Ariola
Framestore has created photoreal CG animals doing weird and wonderful things for MJZ's Dante Ariola and Y&R New York.
Shot on location in Thailand, the three-part global campaign uses realistic-looking animals with extraordinary abilities to promote LG's Infinia TV. Butterflies sees a single cocoon release tens of thousands of CG butterflies; Elephant sees the mammal rebuilt in CG to gracefully climb a tree; and Lure sees a CG fishing lure find its freedom whilst following a playmate in the deep blue sea. This enormous creative task included designing and animating intricate CG whilst rebuilding complex backgrounds. All post production was completed in just five weeks, leaving very little margin for error. Each commercial posed vastly different challenges, with the team leads - Alex Thomas (2D) and Diarmid Harrison-Murray (CG) - constantly having to adapt their thinking when jumping between commercials.
Although Elephant's eponymous animal seems to be climbing skillfully, it maintains an arduous sense of weight. Alex Thomas and Diarmid Harrison-Murray worked closely with Dante Ariola on set, shooting a variety of setups with real elephants, so that as often as possible, the real animal could be used, even if the background had to be rebuilt. At times the final shot is a combination of real elephant and CG. Considering the elephant's climb was entirely unnatural, it was given amazingly authentic-looking movement through careful 3D animation and convincing 2D compositing. Given the intense schedule, raw CG renders of the elephant struggled in extreme close up, so tight shots were enhanced with 2½D projections of the real elephant. The 3D team also worked on augmenting the tree to make it appear more climbable and generated the tree trunk base to replace the elephant's live action step. The jungle canopy needed to be closed in selectively in 2D and soaring CG parrots were added to draw attention to this sole opening. The final vista was built as a labour of love in Flame using location stills as a base. Flame was also used to create quiet but enriching visual effects like leaves that fall as the elephant strikes the tree.
Framestore's Flame artist, Alex Thomas, who has worked with Dante Ariola several times before, said: 'This project presented a lot of creative and technical challenges which had to be completed in a very short space of time. But the 3D and 2D teams pulled together brilliantly, pushing the technology in many ways. We were always in contact with Dante and the agency as well, who together steered the ship on a daily basis, pushing to get the best at every stage. Personally, I really enjoyed the experience. And the chance to collaborate with so many talented people.'