High street giant Argos turned to Framestore to help bring the magic to its exciting festive 2020 Christmas commercial directed by James Rouse, a director who has a long-standing and successful relationship with the creative studio. The fun and energetic campaign film, Abracadaisy and the Astounding Lucy sees Framestore deliver some VFX tricks to heighten an already-magical commercial, creating a series of seamless magic tricks and enhancing the set transformation from a family’s living room to a luxury theatre.
Devised by advertising agency The &Partnership, the film sees two children’s sorcery skills’ blossom after they ask for a magic set from the Argos Book of Dreams. Framestore provided the VFX sparkle that helped Abracadaisy and the Incredible Lucy magic mince pies out of thin air, perform a trick with their dog and even turn a family member into a theatre employee selling concessions.
William Bartlett, VFX Supervisor, recorded himself performing VFX-enhanced magic tricks to show Rouse how convincing the tricks could look if they were digitally-augmented. The fantastical elements of the film needed to shine while still looking natural as Daisy and Lucy master their craft and perform more and more elaborate feats. Having worked out how the different tricks would be created in post-production, William went on set to advise on the VFX, working closely with Rouse.
Talking about the scope of work delivered, Puff Pisanwalerd, the project’s 2D Lead said; ‘The biggest challenge we had was just the amount of work that needed to be delivered in a quick turnaround. The team worked on almost all of the commercial’s shots so it was a really great team effort.’
To help the living room transform into an elaborate theatre before the audiences’ very eyes, Framestore created an incredibly-detailed CG set extension which can be seen as the audience gives the magicians a standing ovation.
Framestore was able to take a LiDAR scan of the impressively-constructed physical sets, the information from which was used to replicate the sets’ textures and styles to create the digital extension that complemented the fantastical look and feel achieved by Rouse’s in-camera work.
The team also designed and incorporated additional digital elements into the theatre such as lamps, lights, chandeliers and the neon sign that appears at the back of the stage. Even these elements that comprised so many meticulously-detailed assets had to work in tandem with the film’s overall aesthetic, selling the concept and the idea rather than trying to out-shine what was captured on location.
‘It was important that we added just the right amount of VFX flourishes to realise James’ vision of these two girls becoming increasingly brilliant magicians,’ commented William Bartlett. ‘The early tests we did and the scans we were able to take from the set were really key in everything coming together the way it has. It’s a really lovely film and I enjoyed being a part of it.’
The final edit is complemented by a colour grade performed by Simon Bourne which is rich and vibrant and adds an extra element of magic to what’s already an incredibly engaging Christmas ad.
Talking about the project, Helen Hughes, Head of Advertising at Framestore said; ‘We love working with James Rouse. His storytelling and performances are always exceptional and coupled with ambitious and beautiful visuals. Our team excelled on this project and I can't wait to see the reaction to it now it's out in the wider world.’