London - The Moving Picture Company's (MPC's) work on Cadbury’s commercial “Spots V Stripes”--in conjunction with advertising agency Fallon and a Glass and a Half Full Productions--won the award for Outstanding Animated Commercial at the Ninth Annual VES Awards. The spot, an underwater adventure eagerly anticipating the “big game” of 2012, was directed by Nick Gordon through Academy Films; Augusto Sola was the creative director. For the spot, MPC created a full cast of over 60 photorealistic CG creatures and provided extensive environment work.
“I remember the reaction when I fist shared the idea with the client. ‘We love it,’ they said, ‘but how the are we going to do it?’ I had the same thought, as I never before worked on such a big a postproduction job, and the ad relied on a flawless postproduction. After nine months of working with Jake (Mengers, VFX creative director) and his team of 40 guys, and with Nick (Gordon, director), I can say we did it,” explains Augusto Sola, creative director at MPC.
"Congratulations to our team who worked on Cadbury’s," says MD of Commercials Graham Bird. "We are extremely proud to be associated with such a project; a group of extremely talented people worked on the project to create something that is very cool. Like me, everyone can be very proud of the work and what we achieve— after all, when you work really hard, it's really cool to get a nice shiny thing at the end.”
Bird continues: “This is a huge achievement for us and goes to show the high-level and increasingly award-winning work produced by MPC.”
The following individuals were singled out for the award: Jake Mengers (VFX Creative Director), Michael Gregory (2D Supervisor), Jorge Montiel Meurer (Animation Supervisor), and Julie Evans (VFX Producer), though MPC also recognized the entire “Spots v Stripes” team for their efforts as well.
As an official sponsor of the Olympics 2012, Cadbury’s is already building up for the event and has created its own big game, sub-aquatic style. MPC was involved during pre-production, including pre-vis and concept work to develop the right look for the creatures and the environment. It was clear from an early stage that VFX would play an essential role in the success of the ad; all the animals had to be fully CG and most of the environments had to be created or enhanced in post.
MPC’s Mengers led the team as VFX creative director with Stefan Gerstheimer as 3D supervisor and Michael Gregory as 2D supervisor. The director wanted to create a photorealistic look for the creatures, but their livery had to be adapted to fit with the teams: stripes and spots. MPC’s main challenge was modeling, animating, and texturing 14 different types of animals, including turtles, devil rays, octopuses, sailfish, ducks, crabs, and mantis shrimps. All the assets were modeled in Autodesk’s Maya, painted in Pixologic’s ZBrush, textured using Maxon’s BodyPaint, and rendered with Mental Images’ Mental Ray.
The live-action plates for the environments were captured in the Red Sea during a five-day shoot. Many of the underwater environments were rebuilt entirely using a combination of 3D elements and live-action projections. Reference material gathered during the shoot helped the 2D team re-create the environment, matching detritus, caustic light, and the light rays in 3D, combined with volumetric shadows for added realism. A lighting setup was designed to mimic the underwater conditions in a render-efficient way.
“To composite the creatures into the live-action plates, we looked at a lot of real reference we had shot and also lots of underwater stock footage,” explains 2D supervisor Michael Gregory. “With the help of some wonderfully lit CG and some iridescence passes, we were able to seamlessly composite them back into the plate. Paying particular attention to the depth-cueing of the shot and adding light rays, subtle flares, and detritus helped us bring all the shots to life.”
The balloons were rendered with four different textures, including barnacle, lichen, and moss passes, and then integrated with 3D bubbles and exploding cloudy fluid simulated in Maya.
The crescendo to the commercial is a slow-motion exit shot with a Tufted Duck being chased by the sailfish and devil ray. The duck was feathered using Maya Fur and rendered using Mental Ray. All of the slow-motion water elements were created with Next Limit’s RealFlow water and composited using Bespoke Bokeh effects.
Jean-Clement Soret added the all-important master grade. The campaign, including a 90-sec version and two 30-sec cut-downs, began airing in the UK and Ireland in late summer.