Framestore and BBDO built on their ongoing creative partnership to collaborate once more for HPE, turning out a stunning new film around the technology giant's involvement with the Virgin DS racing team, who compete on the Formula E circuit. Directed by Framestore Pictures' Murray Butler, with a VFX team led by Head of CG Andy Rowan-Robinson, the brief was to show how Virgin and HPE are using the advances in electric racing to pioneer changes in mass transportation technology.
With a day to shoot the real car in Paris before a race, the initial brief was to break the car into wireframe pieces. This rapidly evolved into a more ambitious concept, with Framestore and BBDO's creatives choosing to show the evolution of a prototype 'sketching' on top of the existing race car, then adapting into further stages of development. Murray said of the project: 'The work hung on the quality of the aesthetic. A sketch line needs to feel sketched, the clay needed to feel hand crafted by a real sculptor. Through all the stages – from concept work, to animation and rendering – the teams delivered work that enriched the idea and pushed it further, achieving something special for agency and client alike.'
'A sketch line had to feel sketched; the clay needed to feel hand crafted.'Murray Butler - Director, Framestore Pictures
The crew went into production armed with a full previs, along with concept art for each stage. The decision was made to shoot on a Milo Motion Control Rig, using the ability to repeat moves to dramatically alter lighting set ups through the car's 'stages' of evolution. Colored flourescents were used to create interactive lighting on the vehicle as the lines appeared.
Framestore's Design Studio was integral to the look of the VFX. Said Akira Thompson, Design Lead: 'HPE Virgin Racing was a joy to work on. Murray and the crew shot some beautiful footage of the Formula One race car which became a great canvas on which to build our data analytics graphics. In addition, it was a lot of fun working with the CG and Comp teams to develop the look of the holographic car. We brought an obj model of the concept car into After Effects and were able to turn around a multitude of passes: types of metal, wireframes, pointclouds etc., which were then assembled to form the semi-transparent, techy holographic look of the vehicle.'
Andy Rowan-Robinson led the CG and Comp team through the process: 'It was a great challenge to combine all of the different phases of the car, bringing them together to deliver a seamless progression over the shots. Having a car appear from light, effortlessly turn into clay and then grow grass – as well as the other aspects – in the short amount of time turned out to one of the greatest creative challenges of the job, but one we relished overcoming. On top of that there was a huge array of plates, motion control and lighting data to sort through and combine into the most visually striking combination for HPE.'