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.
Lure sees a fishing lure meets its doppelganger and so had the strongest narrative requirements. The animation challenge was in conveying a seemingly inanimate object being propelled by underwater currents, without it coming across as cute Pixar-esque character. Both the lure and the fish were designed in CG, with iridescent colour being a client priority. The underwater footage provided no tracking markers and few lighting references. Fortunately, though, a solid track wasn't appropriate due to the fluid environment. In the absence of HDRs, fish and lure reflections were based on procedural HDRs generated by creating an artificial environment that emulated underwater colours and movements. The shoal required a delicate balance between natural movement and narrative choreography and the light that comes through it was built using shaders to create a sense of light travelling through the fishes' bodies. CG elements were degraded in Flame to mimic the backplate's natural imperfections. For example, a chromatic aberration effect - where the channel splits at the edge of frame in underwater footage - was applied as a blue blur to the edges of the fish and lure.
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.'