LONDON — Released exclusively online in Germany, EDEKA’s four-minute Christmas epic racked up almost 4M hits on YouTube. Directed by MJZ’s Matthijs van Heijningen, 2117, with concept and idea by Jung von Matt, continues the brand's tradition of delivering brave Christmas advertising.
Set in a very believable future in which robots have taken over, the film follows the story of a lowly but courageous service robot who wants human love in his cold, barren world. It was important that the craft and emotional storytelling remained of the highest quality throughout the four-minute film.
The hero was created by the MPC (moving-picture.com) team behind Samsung Ostrich and Buster the Boxer for John Lewis, which went on to win double gold and double silver at Cannes Lions for VFX and Animation. To create this world and its inhabitants, MPC’s team adapted to the project’s challenges, evolving new ways of working to deal with the scale and complexity. Inspired by a classic film, EDKEKA’s robot is looking for a human connection - but he’s no alpha-male.
"I’m very proud to have helped realise Matthijs’ vision”, says Diarmid Harrison-Murray, MPC’s VFX supervisor. "It pulls at the heart strings - just what you want and expect from a Christmas ad – but with a unique idea. As we follow our hero’s story, it’s the delicate nuances that make him engaging. Conveying subtle emotion in a robotic character is tricky. We were striving to set the dial right in each scene – tough in a film with over 80 CG shots.”
From concept art down to every nut and bolt, MPC’s VFX artists created the robots to reflect how they’d be built in their own world, taking inspiration from real-life, movable objects. Because our artists had to deal with so many individual pieces – over 3,000 mechanically-accurate parts for the hero robot alone – the team developed a new look-development workflow, to manage material assignments and shader variation. This way of working enabled the team to create the world of ‘2117' against a tight time-scale.