Framestore Pictures and Oscar-winning VFX studio Framestore worked with creative agency Activista on a project for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that raises awareness of how devastating fossil fuels subsidies are for people and planet and to urge more climate action in the wake of the UN's Code Red announcement.
The team delivered a world-class shoot and impressive CG dinosaur for the film, ‘Don’t Choose Extinction,’ which was translated into over 32 languages and VO-ed by international celebrities, all in an effort to bring attention to the climate crisis.
Having worked closely together 20 years prior on the BBC Emmy Award-winning docuseries, Walking with Dinosaurs, Framestore Pictures Director Murray Butler and Framestore Creative Director Marco Marenghi, were a perfect duo to bring the striking Utahraptor to life.
Shooting at the iconic UN Assembly Hall in New York, Butler and the team used the dinosaur’s dimensions to mock up stand-ins out of PVC piping, allowing the extras and actors something to react to in real time.
“We studied the way great speeches were delivered in film and TV and approached this project with the same cinematic language (just with a dinosaur as the orator),” said Butler. “We opted to use two cameras, which enabled us to covertly capture spontaneous reactions and cover action from a variety of levels and angles throughout the Hall. The stirring musical score, our CG dinosaur hero, and the senior UN staff member and delegates who volunteered their time each brought this incredible film to life for an important cause.”
The Framestore animation team headed by Marenghi, one of the world’s leading dinosaur animators, developed the look and feel of the menacing creature, delicately striking a balance between anthropomorphism and realistic behavior. In the absence of soft tissue on a dinosaur’s “lips,” the team worked to achieve a believable lip sync that maintained a level of authenticity, opting for manufacturing phonemes by using jaw and tongue motion.
“We set about designing the dinosaur asset with unique skin that featured some iridescence, as we couldn't have feathers,” said Marenghi. “We wanted to retain some of the familiar raptor features, whilst feeling heavier and more imposing. It was important that the creature felt menacing, but not so much as to cause a panic stampede when it entered the Assembly Hall. It was a delicate balance to build the tension without terror.”
The dinosaur was then seamlessly integrated into background plates, paying careful attention to shadows, reflections and surrounding influences. Finally, the Compositing team created a plethora of crowd duplication shots and placed imagery on the jumbotron to tell the story within the story.
The ‘Don’t Choose Extinction’ film and digital ecosystem by Wunderman Thompson can be found at www.dontchooseextinction.com.