A Mountain of Entertainment
Framestore collaborates with Los Pérez and New Commercial Arts to deliver an epic Paramount+ launch campaign. Featuring Uma Thurman and Christina Ricci the launch spot for Paramount+ marks Kamen Markov’s first job at Framestore.
"In the incredibly skilled hands of Framestore, you absolutely know that the execution will be both exceptional and impeccably on schedule. They really do care about every aspect of a campaign and the people working on it."Matt Craigie Atherton - Director of Production & Operations, New Commercial Arts
In collaboration with Los Pérez and agency New Commercial Arts, Framestore has built a gorgeous new world in the 115-second spot for the launch of Paramount+. In the film they give viewers a peek behind the iconic Paramount Mountain, as they follow Pete on his first day as a runner accompanied by comedian Jack Whitehall delivering coffees to key figures. Starring in the piece is IP such as Halo, Paw Patrol, Star Trek Enterprise, and actors including Uma Thurman and Christina Ricci.
“When tasked to produce a brilliantly ambitious but breakneck-speed project like Paramount+, there are very few VFX studios whom you can 100% trust to just totally nail it. However, in the incredibly skilled hands of Framestore, you absolutely know that the execution will be both exceptional and impeccably on schedule. They really do care about every aspect of a campaign and the people working on it; especially when you have feature film talent because they too are features creators at the top of their game. Sometimes a tricky job can be a chore but at Framestore the complexities solved and perfected actually made it a joy.” Matt Craigie Atherton, Director of Production & Operations, New Commercial Arts.
The team was led by Frametsore’s Kamen Markov, who was on set carrying out previs and technical planning, in his debut Framestore project.
“This is my first job as Creative Director for Framestore and it was exciting to land such a significant ad right from the start.” said Kamen Markov.
Kamen collaborated with Framestore’s Previs team (part of Framestore’s Pre-production Services) to work out the piece. “We worked from storyboards provided by the client and built an animatic, realising the shots and improving on them in previs first. We used real world references of planned shoot locations. The edit went through several rapid iterations, with the final IP not being locked at the time of previs. The show was a lot of fun to visualise and contained iconic shots and moments from the reimagining of the Paramount Logo flying over the mountain to referencing characters or elements from Star Trek, Halo or Transformers.” said Vincent Aupetit, Visualisation Supervisor.
One of the most extensive shots the team worked on was the opening sequence which showed the famous Paramount Mountain complete with the logo and stars hovering above. The team had a CG camera fly over it and onwards towards the never-been-seen before back of the mountain. They then joined this journey to a live action plate that they shot in the studio and stitched them together to create a fully CG 15-second shot.
“Work on the opening sequence started before the shoot and continued right up until the end. It's a very long shot and had a lot of CG set extensions outside and inside the studio with CG trees, clouds and landscape,” said Kamen Markov. “It’s easy to build something that is wide but when you get close to it you have to allow for close up detail. You also have to account for the detail in the distance including the lightning, and everything has to smoothly transition, so we really had to blend everything together.”
The mountain was the hero of the piece and the team consciously included it as background in all the scenes.
“There are two stories being told, one is the story of Pete and his journey delivering coffees and the other is the story of what might be going on at the back of the mountain, behind this famous logo,” said Kamen Markov. “For that reason, we always kept the mountain the hero of the piece.”
The team crafted the mountain to ensure it was authentic to the logo and brand, this included building in detail that extended to include new stars and backgrounds. They also relit it to fit with the daylight scenes as opposed to the sunset ambiance it had originally.
“Some of the DMPs are really complicated. For example, the wide shot which shows our completely redesigned back of the mountain, includes our DMP artists’ work of creating a landscape complete with buildings and the old roads connecting the different areas.” said Kamen Markov.
“We’re almost building a whole new world and a lot of thought went into it from the directors, especially how to connect the landscape up,” continued Kamen Markov. “Having Pete and Jack Whitehall drive through the forest was important because it connects up the Paramount Mountain and the landscape with all the different studios located in the area.”
To enhance it further the team found the actual location of the Paramount Mountain and took Google image scans of it to be used as a base structure, allowing them to sculpt it and add incredible levels of detail.
“The lighting and look dev of the mountain was a huge thing for us,” said Kamen Markov. “A lot of procedural work went into creating the mountain, especially the snow and trees because it would take too long to do by hand.”
The project involves pretty much every discipline of post-production, including compositing, CG, CG environment creation, Digital Matte Painting and animation. Involved from the beginning, the team discussed in detail what was possible with such a vast piece.
"The majority of the exterior plates were shot at Farnborough location, which we used as a base to create the magical Paramount land. Almost all the exterior shots required us to enhance the location with extensive CG set extensions, background mountains and sky replacements to create a world, consistent with the story," said Kamen Markov. “For practical reasons, the driving sequences were predominantly shot on blue screen or with a precision driver and we needed to include in post several head replacements of Jack Whitehall.”
Another major shot included a Jeep passing a bridge. To achieve this, they built a miniature set and used a remote control car to drive over the drawbridge. They then shot Jack Whitehall and Pete in the car on blue screen and composited the car on top, adding in an extensive background and cloud scape.
“We get a nice interaction of the bridge wobbling and then we shot the bridge with the plate parking lot, before putting everything together,” said Kamen Markov. “This was all done at miniature scale using props and puppeteering for the Jeep’s crossing.”
Kamen’s team worked with Framestore’s sister company, renowned colour specialists, Company 3 who created a playful grade.
“From an overall creative perspective, it was important for us to work hand-in-hand with colour grade,” said Kamen Markov. “It’s where the picture is really finished, so we worked closely with colourist Steff Perry and essentially finished the film together.”
“It was great to work with Los Pérez who had lots of fresh ideas,” said Kamen Markov. “We also thoroughly enjoyed being involved in a channel launch campaign in collaboration with New Commercial Arts and it was a joy to bring this incredibly creative idea to life.”