Enjoy the Ride
Directed by Bafta Award winner William Bartlett, ‘Enjoy the Ride’ is an adrenaline-fuelled film for Sky Sports that celebrates the start of the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Supported end to end by Framestore Pictures and Framestore, from pre-production, through to shoot, VFX and with grade by Steffan Perry at sister company, Company 3, the project encompasses the breadth of talent across these creative powerhouses.
In collaboration with Sky Creative, the goal was to create a truly visceral experience where the audience is fully immersed in the excitement and spectacle of F1.
“Every F1 season is a rollercoaster of excitement, full of ups and downs and twists and turns as the drivers and teams battle it out to come out on top. What better way to announce the start of this year’s competition than to literally see our main title protagonists race around a ‘rollercoaster inspired’ circuit built from the imagination of the Framestore team. Set on the outskirts of Las Vegas, reminding us of the most exciting new venue to appear on the 2023 calendar, we speed around the track blending the live action footage with our CG cars and environment” explains Bartlett.
The film has an epic cinematic feel that comes from the richness of the imagery, the authenticity of the scenes and the elevated aesthetic. Paired with seamless VFX and impressive attention to detail, the work is a testament to Framestore’s unparalleled skill in this area.
Led by Framestore VFX Supervisor Matthew Thomas, the VFX had to facilitate and enhance the story, but crucially, it needed to look and feel as authentic as possible, with a physical reality and architectural logic to the shapes and structures built.
“To create the previsualization, we utilized Nuke’s 3D system to block out the animation and layout to find the tempo and pace within the piece. This allowed us to build and explore the edit set to the amazing backing track” explained Thomas.
“We generated a spherical projected digital matte painting of the Mojave Desert and Las Vegas. This allowed us to move the camera around the track dynamically and creatively” he adds.
The night-time environment of the ad proved challenging with the sheer number of colourful, animated lights inside the amusement park. Framestore’s CG team created a system in Houdini so that, intuitively, each lighter could handle all the lights in the scene through a single user interface. Houdini was also used to create a procedural system that enabled the modification of the F1 track, such as its shape, size and the objects attached to it.
Pulling everything together is the flaring produced from all the floodlights. “Using a mixture of Framestore’s in-house Nuke flare system and a bespoke procedural optical lensing tool developed for the project, we were able to make the world feel alive” says Thomas.
Knowing that cars on 3-dimensional spiralling tracks can be deceptively difficult to animate without the right tools, Framestore’s Rigging team were also able to develop a system for animation to have them on paths that conformed to the road surface.
Bartlett concludes: “What a project to direct. The team at Sky Creative were an absolute pleasure to work with, and alongside me I had the sensational crew of VFX artists at Framestore who effortlessly brought all our ideas to life. Plus, I’m a huge F1 fan - it doesn’t get much better than that!”