AUDI - "Mechanics"- Sebastian Strasser
How to advertise the rather dull topic of pre-paid auto service plans?
With Agency Thjnk Berlin alternative take on this rather dry topic, they decided to create a commercial on such an outrageously epic scale that it's no less than a matter of life and death.
It's a pint sized Hollywood action movie that tells the story of our hero's trip to the Audi garage for his annual checkup whilst chased by a gathering army of 10,000 marauding grease monkeys.
The film was directed by long term collaborator Sebastian Strasser through RadicalMedia Berlin. He wanted to create something filmic and on an epic scale as the ambitious idea was one that demanded a no holds barred approach. The spot was produced by Christoph Petzenhauser and shot by the talented features DOP Roman Vasyanov.
We spent a month in the preparation and planning of the shoot to ensure that we would be able to deliver the best results as well as address the ever evolving ideas.
The spot was shot in the Mojave desert outside Los Angeles over a four day period and was as much fun to shot as it looks. There were up to 80 extras on set plus 12 trained stuntmen coordinated by Hollywood legend Pat Romano.
We were delighted to test ourselves with some big vfx setups, most notably having to create fully interactive crowd simulations in cgi. We set about researching techniques and approaches to the best way to cover the shots. The ultimate test was the shot where we see the crowd first crash together and create the wave. We shot from a moving camera rig pulling the stuntman on a rubber mat at 20mph. This allowed the stuntmen to have a controlled performance by using a springboard and crash mat for their action which makes up the live foreground moment in the shot.
It was very challenging populating the shot with full cgi characters immediately behind and amongst live action actors knowing this is where the cgi would be under most scrutiny. It was a long process with many levels of discussion and improvement but we were really happy with the results.
The final wide shot also proved to be a big challenge as the predetermined location for the shot did not provide the helicopter footage we were looking for. This meant having to execute the move at a remote secondary warehouse location and rebuild the edge of town environment completely from scratch. In this wide shot 90% of the image was created before we even addressed the 10,000 digital extras.
There is a huge amount of hidden work throughout the commercial from walls smashing to the interior and exterior design in cgi of the Audi service centre.
Take a look at the following behind the scenes vfx breakdown that gives some insight into how it all came together.
More4 Christmas 2014 - Rob Blishen - 4Creative
When is a shoot not a shoot? When its a scan of course!
We were asked back to tackle More4’s Christmas promo again this year, through Rob Blishen and 4 Creative. The task? To create a magical winter landscape in which to show off the best output that More4 had to offer over the festive season.
We knew it was the perfect opportunity to employ the skills of Scanlab Projects and their awesome Lidar scanning technology (something we’d been trying to do for a while!)
Over a four day ‘scan’ in a remote Norwegian forest, Matt and his team built an intricate map of our location. Using over 40 indvidual scans, each of them generating a point cloud with over 4.5 million points….not a rabbit footprint was left uncaptured. At the same time we grabbed stills of the mountain landscapes, and were even lucky enough to capture the Northern lights in all their glory.
Once back in from the cold, the team at TBA created an animated camera that Scanlab then rendered using their proprietry software. All these elements were then combined in Flame and were composited over our photographic night skies. Some beautiful bespoke snow animation brought everything together.
VW - Golf GTE - Thomas Garber
You couldn’t ask for a better VFX brief than the one we recieved from Director Thomas Garber through Tony Peterson Film. Rocketcars, rocketmen, futuristic cities with racing trikes, sonic trains, centrifuges and of course the new VW Golf GTE….this gig ticked off a lot of our CG bucket list!
Working closely with Thomas and our long trusted concept artist Sylvie Minois we researched and refined looks for each of the vehicles. At the same time the surrounding environments were considered, whilst also building a detailed pre-vis as we went. The edit was quick, much like the vehicles themselves, so timing was crucial. The concept designs fed into the Art department, who created some incredible pieces for the shoot - LED biker suits, rocket wings, cockpits and train cabins to name a few. All of these elements combined to shoot over three studio days in Prague. With the talent’s performance, we had the perfect platform on which to build our 5, very different vignettes.
Using a combination of matte painting, fluids, particles, cloth, photogrammetry and just about every 2D tool there is, work began combining the shot material with their environments. Thanks to a clear vision from Thomas, and the foundations laid in the pre-vis, we were able to move through a tight six week schedule smoothly. There was also a host of invisible work required, from scaling down the Rocketcar drivers crash helmet to adding CG visors in all the close ups. The guys at Ten24 created a full 360 degree scan of the rocketman's suit, this allowed us to add in some flapping cloth and other details….for the few frames that you saw it!
Most of what you see in this spot was created at TBA from scratch, from the Icelandic inspired canyons to the future city race track.
Talk Talk - The Mission - Smith & Foulkes
Talk Talk continues it's strong tradition of showcasing animation in it's advertising output with the commission of this film, directed by Smith & Foulkes through Nexus.
A parody of the "Lord of The Rings" style epic quest movie, we follow five household objects as they traverse suburban obstacles in search of their own holy grail, a Talk Talk TV household. They brave deserts, jungles, mountains and oceans (in reality the more humble obstacles created by sandpits, hedgerows, roadworks and ponds).
Nexus completed all of the character design and animation in house and asked us to lead the compositing, digital matte painting and grade. There was some quite extreme vfx transformations needed to take the footage, shot in the "exotic" location of suburban Bromley, into the realms of Mordor. Have a look at the example below. In addition a lot of time was spent integrating other elements needed such as rain, water splashes, smoke and mist.
The team at Time Based Arts was led by VFX supervisor Sheldon Gardner, friend and long term collaborator of Smith & Foulkes.
Nike - Sneaker Boots "Warm" - More Soon
Air Max, the most iconic Nike trainer ever made... now available as a winter boot!?
The sneaker boot as its officially known is a thermally lined hi-top, its 100% waterproof and features clever technical materials that reflect light making you visible on those dark wintery nights. Beats a pair of Dunlop wellies any day of the week.
Nike approached Tom and Carl at More Soon to design three films that matched the ground-breaking thinking that had gone into the sneaker boot. The brief stated that they had to represent the practical qualities that made the boot different to a normal Air Max: warm, waterproof and visible.
We worked with Tom and Carl, helping to develop their original ideas. Both of the guys are makers themselves which made the process very collaborative from a post perspective. They both originate from a design background and this aesthetic shines through in their approach to film making. The ice, water and light elements were shot by Matt Day and Andy Gent at Clapham Road studios. These parts were then skilfully combined with our 3D boots and animations creating the three distinctive films. The project was full of visual problem solving, design and and all round CGI craft.
BMW - X-World "The Wave"- Sebastian Strasser
Time Based Arts has delivered the visual effects for this international campaign starring the all new BMW X4.
Following on from the success and critical acclaim of last year's Vodafone "Add Power To Your Life" commercial, we collaborated again with Director Sebastian Strasser of Radicalmedia Berlin.
The agency brief from Serviceplan International Hamburg was to explore the idea of an unreal city-scape in constant flux and change. With the agency and director we explored various options and possible techniques to visualise this in the development stage. After some early boards and animation tests it was decided that we would develop a city that heaved and rolled on a landscape that reflected the movement of ocean waves.
With this established we used R&D to develop a technique that would allow us the most control and speed to build the image.
By utilising open source mapping data the 3D team developed a quick system that could illustrate the possibilities for the effect to the client based on differing street layouts and cityscapes, lifted directly from real locations.
It was a classic example of the way that vfx R&D can inform and help formulate the idea through pre-visualisation, and helped us not only to technically evolve a solution and plan for the shoot but to illustrate the concept visually.
Honda - Inner Beauty - Smith & Foulkes
Time Based Arts has completed the post and vfx for the new Honda Civic Tourer commercial working again with directors Smith & Foulkes through Nexus. The commercial was written and conceived by the creative team at Wieden+Kennedy London.
The campaign celebrates the idea that beauty is about much more than what appears on the surface. The creative plays on the trend in design, engineering and wider society of looks being valued over substance. The viewer is taken on a journey through various objects, including a golf ball, suitcase, chest of drawers and an accordion, discovering something surprising and beautiful about the inside of each one.
The brief in the first instance was to help explore and define how one could travel into and through a series of objects conceived by the creatives and directors. Further to this, we had to establish the right amount of time spent inside each object, the time required travelling towards the object to allow for recognition and the general flow throughout. This all culminated in a sequence of shots of the car in action, inside and out.
We set about making a full 3D pre-vis of the commercial to help to visualise the concept as a complete film. The results were then passed back and forth through an editing process until everyone felt we had locked down the basic structure of the film.
The main challenge of the project was to both accurately represent what was inside each object whilst also embellishing this with the beautiful abstract imagery one might imagine when exploring from an impossible perspective. For example in the case of the camera, robot, amp and accordion we had to sacrifice real objects and cut them up to look inside. We researched how they worked and gained an understanding of how you might pass through each section while maintaining a visual interest and beauty in the image. This meant understanding when an object would be sliced through and when the viewer would become fully immersed in the object, such as in the interior of the golf ball or the snow dome hidden inside the suitcase.
Other challenges included combining 3D with stop-frame imagery. The 3D was put under close scrutiny given the macro nature of the journey through each object. We closely analysed the stop-frame footage and applied the findings in the comp. The addition of shallow depth of field immediately miniaturised the clean CG renders. Lens aberration, light leak, randomising the clean edges and subtle animation in the placing of the object on each frame all helped to mimic the stop-frame look.
Although enormously complex at times the job was a pleasure to work on. Smith&Foulkes, Wieden+Kennedy and of course Honda always wish to push things creatively and it was a enjoyable to be able to respond to that driving force and help to deliver the most creative and beautiful image.
Congratulations to Anthony and Factory for their Bronze at the Clio Awards for sound design on this project.
Vodafone - Add Power To Your Life
An epic spot for Vodafone from Sebastian Strasser through Radical Berlin
This ambitious project first crossed our path in the spring with a phone call from Sebastian. What followed was a bizarre conversation about sim cards, eggs, cats, transformers, buffalos and rockets. Although we were left scratching our heads it was immediately apparent that the film was going to be ambitious, bold and packed with creative vfx.
Fast forward four months and here you have it. The answer to some very important (and often unasked) questions including: what does an egg turning into a kitten look like? How does one ride a robot/buffalo at speed? and what is the best position to adopt on a transforming rocketship train?
The film's premise is a simple (if crazy) one; that the new vodafone sim card will, like some bizarre piece of modern day sorcery, "power up" any object to a new form.
As for our job, with such varied and complex images needed we were primarily tasked with problem solving at every level, during scripting and development, on set and through to the later post production stages.
Stylistically the director wanted to keep the camera off the tripod and hand held throughout which added to the narrative flow of the spot overall but of course increased the complexity of the vfx shots. With each vignette lasting only a short duration of the overall edit it was also the case that there was enormous amounts of R&D for very short sections. The creature work and full fur on the buffalo for example taking many weeks to perfect for the completion of only three short shots.
We're really proud of the final image and the low-fi and naturalistic feel of the spot overall.
Transformers with kittens - what more could we ask for?!
Channel 4 - Born Risky
For those of us who grew up in the UK in the 80's, Channel 4 quickly installed itself as the black sheep of domestic broadcasting at a time when Mary Whitehouse was campaigning daily against subversive "video nasties". In fact where I grew up, attracting Mary Whitehouse's wrath was something of a seal of approval and an ideal reason to program the Betamax.
This is an interesting project for 4Creative that explores Channel 4's attitude to cutting edge programming and risk taking. The idents were designed to revisit the "red triangle" series of programming which began in September 1986. At this time broadcasts on late night TV were preceded by a warning , saying "Special Discretion Required" and displaying a full-screen logo of a red triangle with a white centre. To prevent viewers who missed the warning at the beginning from later being unwittingly exposed to the adult content of the film, a smaller red triangle was continually displayed in the top left corner of the screen throughout the broadcast. This quickly led to the broadcasts being informally known as the "red triangle films".
Rather than adopt a cgi route Steve and Grant wanted to create something physical to shoot on set, from which they could layer up multiple passes of light and refraction. They created a perspex pyramid and then got busy in the studio experimenting.
We worked up these layers and the supplied typography to create the multiple versions sent to air.
Nike/Footlocker - KDI Investigates
Time Based Arts goes deep undercover with this new film for Nike & Footlocker. Working with Gary Freedman of The Glue Society and the guys at Weiden + Kennedy, the task was to go behind the scenes at "KDI" headquarters.
Turns out the NBA's leading scorer for the last few years, Kevin Durant, has been keeping his eye on which of us mere mortals have been training for the new season…
Surveillance graphics, holographic terminals, hand scanners, server racks and interactive basketball courts were just a few of the additions from Time Based Arts, not to mention a wealth of grading, lighting and clean up.
Are you ready?
Strictly Come Dancing
At last we've done it! We've finally delivered a job that our Mums are proud to say 'my son worked on that'.
Our involvement came early in the process assisting Anthony in the planning and design of the VFX shots. Anthony wanted to stay true to the concept of an invisible partner which meant no wires, no harnesses and no crazy rigs. It's all done for real with opposing professional dancers and it was down to us to make them disappear.
The results capture the dancers defying gravity and pulling off some unbelievable moves. Check out the side by side edit below for a peek at the invisible dance partners in their fetching lycra suits. Full marks for commitment!
The time frame was tight which meant pretty much the whole of Time Based Arts got involved, even down to Joe and Ralph our multi-talented roto-scoping runners.
Definitely one that turns your head after an omnibus edition of Eastenders.
Coke - Happiness is Movement
The tale of one dude's happy life in reverse, beautifully conceived by Johnny Kelly for Coca Cola.
The scenario is captured by an array of skilfully crafted automaton puppets. Johnny designed and then pre-vised the concept down to the millimetre.
Anarchy made it all come to life (the whole set spans a mighty 7 metres!) The imperfections of the real, hand-made approach is the very thing that make it perfect.
Its another one shot, mind boggling achievement by Mr. Kelly.
Sprint Dream II
We were approached by Leo Burnett Chicago to revisit the creative on the Sprint Mobile cinema commercial that we worked on with UVA and Chris Turner last year. Based on the success of the existing campaign they were looking to take the visual forward, creating abstract visions of what your phone might see if it could dream.
The objective was to invite cinema-goers to switch off their phones before the film, suggesting they text DREAM to Sprint to activate a reward when their phone awakens. This reward was one of three personalised html5 generated films showing what your phone has been dreaming about.
The creatives at Leo Burnett asked us to propose different visual routes that these dreams could take. This allowed us a lot of creative freedom to suggest the visual journey and we were able to work very collaboratively with the agency. We settled on creating an internalised feeling in the opening section, with the user reaching in to shut down the phone. This followed on from the UVA film that ended at the phone's "core". We then used this "core" or "brain" as the starting point from whence abstract dream imagery flowed. It was also interesting to deliver a job that we knew would be viewed exclusively in film theatres. We worked closely with the sound designer to create a spot that in the context of the cinema commercial break is a really intense and immersive experience. It was great to produce, direct and then craft a piece all in house here at Time Based Arts.
As we were nearing the end of reading Jaron's treatment for this Coke Burn project we'd already decided we had to get involved. Some mails end up in your inbox for a reason... The words conjured up amazing imagery and having worked with Jaron before, we knew it would be a Time Based Arts classic.
The film follows the vivid dreams of five freerunners as they jump and leap their way through a disused warehouse. Their abstract visions pulled from their dreams and projected into the space. As the film progresses the projected theme becomes more evident and the texture of the warehouse begins to show through. It ends on a reveal of the space as the projections switch off and the runners meet in the hub of the building.
The challenge in the beginning was to develop the look of the dream-like/projected backdrop for the piece. It had to feel projected but not give the away the concept too early in the film. What would it look like if you could back project something 5 stories tall on to concrete and from every direction. We think something like this.
Most shots were camera tracked and rebuilt in Nuke or 3D. We built bespoke textured warehouse features into each scene and it was all brought together in Flame. We created a dark and moody ocean for the first scene and additional 3D fire and smoke for the final vignette. We then graded the imagery throughout to maintain the muted feel that Jaron shot for.
"Last Man Standing"
We ended 2012 with this stylised piece for Lucozade Sport directed by Johnny Hardstaff (RSA) through Grey London. We've been following Johnny's work since the inspiring and game changing shorts 'The History of Gaming' and 'The Future of Gaming' through to his recent work for Ridley Scott's Prometheus. Understandably we were pretty taken to be working with him at Time Based Arts.
The film captures the contest of Lucozade vs. Water, introducing a new scientific claim, that Lucozade Sport hydrates and fuels better than water under scientific testing. Twenty four competitive athletes go head to head, half fuelled purely by Lucozade and the other by water. The action takes place under laboratory conditions monitored by a group of GSK scientists.
Johnny's attention to design is apparent throughout the film. Location, art direction, costume, sound, grade and the design of the graphics all marry together to create a unique image that personifies the idea perfectly. We helped out with realising his designs for the screens, developing a thermal imaging look, animating the stats and comping them into the footage. Luke supervised the shoot and lead the VFX team back at TBA. A nice 2 week run in to Christmas and a great end to of our exploits for 2012.
It’s not often that a script arrives that manages to tick most of the boxes on our vfx wish list, but this was just the project. It’s a stand out campaign commercial for the latest European wide Vodafone network and came to us via friend and exec producer Christoph Petzenhauser at Radical Media Berlin.
We were delighted to be able to work with Sebastian Strasser in bringing his vision for the film to life.
The spot was shot in Hong Kong by Hoyte van Hoytema (Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy) with Sheldon Gardner vfx supervising for Time Based Arts. It was a huge campaign spot and shot over six long nights in multiple Hong Kong locations.
Every section of the film had a large degree of vfx work – The beauty of the opening scene in the street market for example disguising the fact that it was built from many passes and layered up to build the rich and atmospheric establishing wide shot.
Ahead of the shoot and throughout the post process we developed the look and feel of the lighting effect closely with the director and client. This was important as it acts as the narrative thread throughout the spot. It had to work on the widest range of scales - whether being emitted from a phone held in the hand or being seen spreading across continents from space.
Then there were the obvious challenge of creating photo real creature effects in the form of the fluking humpback whale and it’s naturalistic inter-action with the water - always a huge technical vfx challenge. This was built up by using a variety of techniques and executions to embed the computer generated tail. These included cgi water simulations, shot textures captured here at our studio and source imagery from the location itself.
Sebastian’s attention to detail was incredible and the nights were certainly long but we love an exacting director here at Time Based Arts and we're very proud of the results.
"All people at TBA are creative, perfectionistic, highly professional and on top of all warm hearted.
Even a grumpy, never happy director like me has to confess: it is simply a pleasure working with them."
The commercial was turned around within a demanding two week post production schedule.
We have delivered the ultimate road trip for the latest Lexus GS commercial from CHI & Partners, directed by long term collaborator Anthony Dickenson through Pulse Films.
The new GS 350h is driven through a dizzying array of environments, from slick city streets to forests to highways in the Midwest. The ad was inspired by the efforts of the chief engineer of the Lexus GS, Yoshihiko Kanamori, and his team, who drove the car a million miles around the world during its development.
Our involvement started when Antony approached us to discuss how he wanted to apply stop frame photographic techniques into a seamless journey. We tested with different rigs and setups before settling on a Canon 5D MarkII shooting RAW exposures every second with the camera vehicle moving at 30 miles per hour. This became a constant for the multiple shoot days that occurred around the world including California, South Africa, Namibia and Iceland. This constant movement forward allowed us to begin to stitch the images together, finding links between the forever encroaching landscapes, until it's very hard to see which element is taken from which location. In doing so we created a seamless impossible road that transcends multiple locations, continents and seasons.
All of the car material was shot in Los Angeles where the only examples of the new car were available. This included a day in the studio where one car had it's roof removed to allow a MILO motion control rig to travel through the car and into the sat nav screen on multiple lighting passes. The interior roof of the car was replaced in post with sgi assets.
Other key areas included the "neurones" end sequence which was designed and brought to life by Oscar Gonzalez.
All in all it was a huge project for us here at Time Based Arts, one which we were really able to craft and bring ideas to, under Anthony's direction. The difficulty and complexity of it's execution we hope is suitably disguised by the commercial's overall effortlessness to watch.
Jason Kedgley and Michael Horsham of Tomato push Time Based Arts to create an abstract film illustrating the best of now for MSN.
3D artist James Healy began the process. Working closely with the directors he developed and evolved many visual interpretations of ideas born from the script before filtering these down to create a common aesthetic that runs through the 8 distinctive vignettes. In parallel Jess Gorick worked up the overall edit and the animation of the typographic elements. Additional 3D development was added by Oscar Gonzalez and Chris Wood and then Remi Dessinges skilfully brought the 3D to life with some brilliant lighting and rendering. The 2D and 3D elements were then passed to the guys in Flame. Sheldon, Mike and James worked-up the images further, defining the composition, look and grade of the piece.
Projects like these give everyone an opportunity to show off their design skills and creative flare. Just the kind of stuff we love. It was also a great opportunity for Time Based Arts to showcase the recently formed 3D arm of the company.
Some of James's reference and working drawings in the studio.
Sprint - "Female"
We jumped at the chance to work with United Visual Artists and Chris Turner on this project for Sprint Mobile out of Leo Burnett Chicago. The ad played out in cinemas across the US encouraging viewers to switch off their phone during the film and allow it to dream!
UVA approached the concept with a vision that was unique and unconventional. They created a huge installation built up of 9 different sections all shot using motion control with imagery synced using their own software D3. Our job was to stitch all the separate passes together to create a seamless journey into the nucleus of the phone. The result is visually arresting and somewhat difficult to grasp given the scale of the units. Check out the stills on our blog from the shoot. They illustrate just how big the phone actually is.
BBC SHAKESPEARE SEASON
Ben Newman and the team at Karmarama have created a 60 second film that celebrates the genius of Shakespeare and how one man managed to capture the human condition.
We were involved in the early stages, working closely with Ben to create a pre-vis which allowed him to visualise the flow of the camera throughout the film.
We then took the footage and crafted seamless transitions between each vignette, added some additional clean-up and atmospheric effects before ending the journey with the beautifully concieved 3D nebula. Big thanks to Yafei and the crew at Important Looking Pirates for their brilliant work on this.
The super talented Ben Newman delivers this high energy shootout from three of the game’s big stars – Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid) and Alexandre Pato (AC Milan).
The commercial was shot on numerous locations in Spain and Italy across many varying formats.
We worked closely with the director and agency creatives to integrate the typography and deliver the strong graphic execution.
The spot was graded in house at Time Based Arts.
O2 - "Blue"
We completed three of these 30 second spots for Radical and VCCP Berlin. The films were shot on location in New Zealand by Joakim Reveman. We were involved from the early stages designing and planning the FX shots. Sheldon then travelled out to NZ to supervise proceedings.
The three films had to be turned around in a four week period during which Christmas and New Year fell slap bang in the middle. We brought together a strong team and got to work on the Alexa files pre grade in order to get a head start. The VFX work comprised of rig removal, matte painting and set extension, combining live action plates, sky replacements, beauty work and the concept design and CG enhancement of boats in ‘Blue’. Not to mention the embellishment of life into the cute animatronic racoon!
The result is a typically quirky set of ads that sit comfortably amongst O2’s diverse output.
On an early morning in June, Jim and I shared a cab with our friend and longtime collaborator Chris Cairns. It was 6am, we were bleary eyed and fatigued from two days spent in Cannes. Chris was bleary eyed and fatigued having cycled 1000km with the Fireflies. As we settled down for a kip on the way to the airport Chris opened his laptop to have a ‘quick’ chat about Swatch… In that moment we left the summer behind. We returned to the dimmed light of our Flame suites and got busy for the next two months.
We surfaced on the other side with this 60″ film for the new digital Swatch “Touch” watch range. The first digital watch that the iconic brand has designed in over 25 years of production. The piece is an audio driven journey set in a club where everything is musically linked, most notably crowd.
It was shot over 4 days (and nights) in a nightclub in Southwark. It combines multiple formats: RED Epic, Alexa and Phantom. Chris not being one to shy away from gargantuan tasks designed an extensive motion control set-up. It included 40 enthusiastic teenagers on green screen, a synced lighting rig and a synced playback system. All of which were set in motion by a purpose built surface controller that takes centre stage in frame. He conducted this orchestra of technology and impassioned youth like a kind of modern day Beethoven and then handed it over to us to stitch it all together.
We started with the development of the look in Flame. The grade had to balance the character of a black and white image but include the three brand colours of the product. This lead on to the design of the various transitions and the look of the audio based digital distortion. We then tackled the huge amount of technical work that included the 5 huge crowd replication shots. The post had a great mix of design and creative challenges combined with problem solving and technical compositing. Just the kind of job we love…….. to design in the back of a taxi on a french motorway with a hangover at 6am!
The guys at Thankyou designed and built the end device and the music was supplied by Danish producer Trentemoller.
The commercial premiered during the MTV Music Video Awards.
The last time Smith & Foulkes made a commercial for Honda, with the genre changing Honda “Grrr”, it became the most talked about (and awarded) animated ad of the last 10 years. It’s also fair to say that the advertising output from Honda is truly innovative and always eagerly anticipated. We were therefore very excited to be involved in helping to craft their latest collaboration, “This Unpredictable Life”.
The tale is told through a poem recited by Garrison Keillor, the author and radio broadcaster whose gravelly voice has become synonymous with the Power of Dreams campaign from “Grrr” to “Impossible Dream”.
The story follows our character from birth to adulthood, meeting his partner along the way and starting a family of his own. The new Jazz features at the end of the spot, it’s multiple seat configurations cleverly adapt to deal with everything life’s journey brings with it. It’s a typically brave approach from the creative team of Chris Groom and Sam Heath at W+K where only 10 seconds of screen time is given to the car in a 60 second product commercial.
The resulting journey is great fun to watch and speaks volumes for Smith & Foulkes’ ability to embue a narrative with detail, richness and of course charm.
The 3D was skillfully designed and animated in house at Nexus by a 30 strong team of multi-disciplined artists. 3D lead and all round virtuoso Ben Cowell headed up the crew even putting his honeymoon on hold to bring this one in.
Time Based Arts were involved from the earliest stages of the project with Sheldon Gardner helping develop style frames for the pitch. This collaboration from the outset proved fruitful as it allowed for a continuity to the look development right through to delivery.
Smith & Foulkes were keen to contrast the simple character designs with elaborate and atmospheric environments which had to feel expansive and epic. It was a very intense post process as the nature of the look meant that the disparate elements for the scenes (including the animated layers, particles, grading and stylisation) could be viewed in context for the first time only in the composite. We worked tirelessly to realise each scene. This allowed for direction and creative input to be fed back to the 3D team where needed and further finesse the end result.
An additional challenge was the fact that the entire 60 second commercial is told in a flowing narrative that has only two obvious cuts.
This lead to very large setups with hundreds of layers needing to be invisibly joined with each subsequent and equally complicated sequence. It was an intense project yet the nature of working with such a creative team made it a hugely rewarding process.
W+K have even developed an iPhone app that allows you to snatch bespoke animations of the characters that feature in the film interactively whilst its playing on your telly!
Special thanks to Ben’s understanding wife Sarah!
HEIMAT Berlin have continued their work with HornBach with a new campaign. They have become renowned for their inventive, ever changing and award winning DIY campaigns over the last few years and in Europe their work is keenly anticipated.
Their latest project, entitled ‘The Infinite House’ takes on a rather different format.
Rather than a straight run of 30 second television commercials the focus for the campaign is a charming narrative nine minute film being shown in cinemas and online.
From this six shorter TVC’s were cut down to act as trailers and promote the short film. It is supported by a print campaign with the agency also creating 700,000 children’s books based on the film.
“The Infinite House” tells the story of man, who with a lot of inspiration and the right tools transforms a small shack into an impressive improvised house of dreams.
Working closely with director Woof Wan-Bau and Radical Media Berlin we completed around 90 vfx shots for the cinema & web short film.
The five day shoot took place just outside Bucharest, Romania in the huge Media Pro studios. James Hatt designed and constructed the massive set and transforming house that with a team of carpenters and matte painters were three weeks in the making.
Our tasks included the more obvious such as extensive rig cleanup and screen replacements through to detailed work on the house transformation section. The project was conceived with a shorter duration but the production was so packed with detail and creativity that it found it’s own way to a final duration of nine minutes.
With a large team we ran two Flames and a Smoke around the clock to bring it all together knowing also that all the work would have to stand up to the scrutiny of a 35mm film print.
We’re delighted with the results and think Woof Wan-Bau has really succeeded in making a short film with a big heart.
Woof Wan-Bau, Director
“TBA were involved very early on in the project, and as always were incredible in their commitment and enthusiasm from start to finish. Sheldon weathered the gruelling shoot in Bucharest with us to make sure i didn’t mess anything up and even moonlighted as smoke and wind machine operator and general props man. Despite the fact that I came back to London with a substantially longer spot, the TBA team put everything into it, and their hard work and creative input was the icing on the cake. Unlike their superior Flame artistry, they suck at ping pong- it was fun to destroy them all on their new ping pong table once the job was done.”
The spot has since been shortlisted on the TED Initiative's "Ad's Worth Spreading" for 2011.
HEWLETT PACKARD I
We’ve just delivered another spot for Academy Award nominated animation directors Smith&Foulkes of Nexus Productions. It’s for the new HP Photosmart Premium printer through US advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
The spot highlights the internet connectivity of the printer and it’s range of web enabled applications, in this case Google Maps. The commercial takes us on a journey from the digital interface to the printed page reflected in a fictional journey from a computer generated cityscape to a paper textured landscape.
For the live-action sections we composited the motion controlled beauty passes of the product. We then composited the 3D animated sequences created at Nexus whilst closely developing the design and look of the two worlds with both Smith&Foulkes and the agency. We brought the live action and computer generated together through transitions from touchpad to cityscape and “paper world” to printed page. Lastly we helped realise the logo end device.
It was a tight turnaround and we worked closely with the un-flappable Ben Cowel head of 3D at Nexus to deliver the project in a little over three weeks from shoot to delivery.
HEWLETT PACKARD II
This is the second instalment from Smith&Foulkes for HP’s web enabled printer.
This story takes us on a journey from browsing the latest cinema listings to directly printing out tickets. Again we travel from the touch screen interface through the evolving digital world to the printed page.
Animation was delivered to us by the team at Nexus and the Goodby, Silverstein & Partners team were back in London to oversee the final composite and delivery. Sheldon brought together all the 3D animated elements and with some backup from Mike re-applied the style and grade established in the first commercial.
A killer 60 second spot for Nike through Wieden+Kennedy London. It was beautifully realised by director Anthony Dickenson of Pulse films. It mixes multiple media to deliver the story of Rooney faced with some futuristic and rather menacing target practice. Of course he takes it in his stride perfectly.
Mike supervised the shoot and helped photograph the long exposure shots of Rooney in action which were used in the final cut. We put it together over three short and intense weeks here at Time Based Arts.
James Guy, Agency Producer Weiden+Kennedy London;
“It was great to work with such an amazingly creative led team. A really intimate, lovely bunch who went above and beyond attention to detail on every shot, making sure director and creatives were totally happy. They made the whole process very easy, simple and enjoyable and had everyone filled with total confidence in what they promised to deliver, which was an amazing film. The work looked so good even a competitor remarked how nice it was!”
The script had all the ingredients of a killer spot and we’re really happy with the outcome. Intended initially as a web film only it’s also now being aired internationally as a 30″ and closer to home the full 60″ got it’s terrestrial debut at half-time during the Man United/ Man City derby. (Rooney scored the winner we might add!)
Time Based Arts has completed the effects work on this commercial for Peter Jackson’s King Kong ride at Universal Studios Holllywood.
The ride itself is the replacement for the original King Kong Experience that burnt down in the fire that destroyed a huge swath of the Universal back-lot in 2008. It’s a fully immersive 3D experience where visitors are surrounded on all sides by imagery (whilst riding on the Universal tour bus) projected on two 200-foot wide screens.
Here's an in-sight into how we did it.
COCA COLA BEIJING OLYMPICS
This spot was commissioned by Coke for the Beijing Olympics 2008 to be screened both in the USA and China.
American basketball legend Lebron James and captain of the Chinese squad Yao Ming go head to head in a theatrical cultural showdown. The spot was filmed in LA and because of the extreme height of Yao Ming (7ft 6") it was required that the "diminutive" Lebron James (6ft 8") stood on a box to better frame the live action ending. The 3D design and animation was created in-house at Nexus Productions with Ben Cowell as Head of 3D. We spent two months in flame compositing and grading the hundreds of 3D elements. The final wide face-off scene has over 300 passes.
In addition we added volumetric lighting, atmosphere and particle systems, designed many of the backgrounds and dealt with the bespoke particle transition to live action.
One of the stranger scripts we’ve been asked to work on but nonetheless beautifully conceived by the ever talented duo Smith & Foulkes out of Nexus Productions.
The ad follows Formula1 racing driver Fernando Alonso as he travels through a weird headless community in his Renault Megane. He looks on in amazement as each character he comes across has a random object for a head. It is revealed that the town is settled on the edge of a forest made up of scissor like trees. Alonso uses the power and handling of the Megane to dodge the sharp blades and safely exit the forest with his neck intact. Confused yet?! Watch and see for yourself.
The car was all shot on location in Madrid, painstakingly masked out and skillfully composited into the fully CG scenes. The clever 3D team at Nexus designed, animated and rendered the charming characters and environments. It was then down to Mike and Sheldon to bring the whole image together in the Flame. The result is a weird but wonderful watch
Chris Cairns of Partizam directed this great online film for the launch of the Nokia N8.
It was shot on the Phantom camera at high speed to capture the rather nifty handwork.
We worked on switching the colour of the handsets throughout, some close cleanup and adding the final screenshots.
If you own a shiny new Nokia N8 then we suggest that you don’t try this at home!
We contributed to this simply stunning music video for the track “Animal” by Miike Snow.
Anthony spent several long weeks in production perfecting the process of shooting, animating, projecting and reshooting sequences in collaboration with Jess Gorick to create the multi-layered visuals.
We helped out with specific grading as well as further animation and effects. The track is a beauty and it was a pleasure to work on.
Turn It Loose
We were asked to collaborate on a technically demanding sequence for a new feature directed by Alistair Siddons of Partizan, London.
His film, which premiered recently at the Edinburgh Film Festival, follows the fortunes of six young dancers in their bid to win the RedBull B-Boy World Title.
We took a 68-camera time-slice and developed it into a 15-second sequence, freezing our hero mid-air as we orbit around him. This pushed the Flame re-timer to the limit and threw up a healthy amount of work removing the resulting artifacts but we think it was worth it in the end.
This mood film for Nike was conceived and directed by the ever creative Saam Farahmand of Partizan London.
The tension builds throughout the spot with this rather other-worldly effect. It was accomplished by combining reversed high speed phantom footage of the skin under air-jets with real time performance takes of the sportsmen. The audio combines beautifully to create the jarring finale.
Chris Cairns of Partizan shot this timely summer Guardian spot.
It’s the story of the perfect summer pint, shot stop frame in various idyllic locations throughout the British Isles. It was a deceptively tricky bit of post in getting the beer and its foam to fall down the glass in a smooth fashion whilst all around changed. It was important to get the balance just right between the jerky (but honest) nature of stop motion in contrast to the smooth decent of the beer.
It was also one of those jobs that constantly reminded us where we would rather be!
It was also the first job that we finished at the newly completed Cottage in May 2009.
Shot over the course of a week in South Africa, this spot for car insurance brought together multiple formats from long exposure stills all the way through to super high speed Phantom footage to create one seamless shot.
Meanwhile in the mid ground our hero continues his piece-to-camera in real time throughout. It required extensive pre-vis and planning and was made possible as it was fully motion controlled using a Milo rig flown out to South Africa with the crew. Mike was on hand to supervise over the course of five windswept nights in Cape Town.