Ground control, this is Framestore: yes, back in space once more, accompanying Vodafone into orbit for the telecomms company’s latest campaign promoting its home broadband services. Under the direction of Biscuit Filmworks’ Jeff Low, and with the creative firepower of agency Ogilvy & Mather, Framestore’s artists were given the chance to create epic imagery cut with the comedic stylings of Brit favourite Martin Freeman.
The ad opens with a vista of an astronaut deep in space, desperately seeking ‘Interstellar Rescue’ from his buddy in a spacecraft. The drama heightens, until an unfortunate technical glitch reveals the scene to be an online video game in play - foiled by unreliable broadband. Freeman is left frustrated, while his gamer friend is cut loose in outer space.
With the wider company responsible for having concepted and executed the VFX on several major space numbers in recent years (Gravity, The Martian, MARS), Framestore’s Advertising division set about creating both a CG spaceship and astronaut, confident in knowing that their work would be built on the shoulders (and successes) of modern-day epics. With a tight schedule in place, the team applied a divide-and-conquer strategy to previsualise the edit and design the spaceship in tandem, using a components-led, building-block, approach until the vast ship reached its full potential.
As the piece would be set in the very near-future, it felt natural to draw on current, realistic space data and models for reference. Framestore also maximised its own knowledge library, mining a wealth of in-house creative solutions to create the finish required for a cinema-worthy feel. From the textures of scratch-marks on the hull, spacesuit labelling and jetpack branding to exterior lights and gas jet effects - all details were incorporated, with no creative stone left unturned.
The whole universe was tied together with a starfield and Milky Way derived from real images, enhanced by bespoke lens flares that were designed into almost every shot. Along with the jetpack thrusters, the glow from the huge ion thruster engines of the ship, and the headlights of the astronaut’s helmet, the team was able to further enhance the realism of the film.
Framestore was also able to draw on the talents of its Design Studio to create the look of the on-screen game graphics, and produce some subtle interaction elements that were projected onto Martin’s face on set.
Steffan Perry handled the grade, amping up the contrast on Freeman’s close-ups to match the in-space environment, while increasing both the sense of tension and claustrophobia, ensuring the filmic bewilderment. The impact of the stars, Milky Way and lens flare effects were all carefully considered whilst setting the contrast levels, in order to maintain the painstaking levels of subtle detail across the piece.
The ad’s suitably cinematic score, composed by Peter Raeburn and recorded by an orchestra of 54 musicians, formed the ultimate wrap on the piece’s many cinematic nuances.