London - Evian "Skating Babies," a 60-second spot, won a Gold Award at the London International Awards
2009 for Best Visual Effects. The multi-national campaign directed by
Michael Gracey blends choreographed roller-skating babies and
the re-mixed street sound of The Sugar Hill Gang's Rapper's Delight.
Michael Gracey has directed Evian's latest commercial "Skating Babies," a multi-national campaign bringing together choreographed roller-skating babies and the re-mixed street sound of The Sugar Hill Gang's Rapper's Delight. Created by the agency BETC Euro RSCG, the spot was produced by Fabrice Brovelli, head of TV at BETC, and Jaques Etienne Stein at Partizan. MPC created CG baby bodies and carried out extensive live-action head replacement and compositing as well as large-scale digital matte paintings to extend the park environment for the TV and online campaigns.
The MPC crew was involved from pre-production, creating pre-vis based on Michael's supplied story board to aid the development of the scenes. Early testing researched the best way to integrate 2D and 3D techniques to create the young skaters, who needed to act like adults, yet keep the babies' personalities. To do this, the VFX team opted to combine live action heads with the CG bodies. To make this happen, a total of 134 babies were filmed, and their heads were matched to 3D animatics displaying the baby like body behavior.
VFX supervisor Dean Robinson and Drew Downes attended the shoot in Melbourne; shooting back plates and lighting reference. They also took reference for the digital matte paintings which enhance the background and re-create the city environment. A mo-cap shoot also took place to capture moves for the background dancers.
MPC's team of animators used Autodesk Maya to create the baby skaters' bodies. To ensure the babies appear fully realistic, it was important to carefully match movements, paying special attention to interaction between the shoulders, neck and head. To help achieve this, full CG babies were created and their heads were replaced later by the live action versions from the shoot by MPC's compositing team led by Ludo Fealy. Creating the babies in full made sure the newly positioned heads would follow the shoulder movement naturally. This also helped during the lighting stage, as shadows of the heads could be easily projected. Another challenge was to create realistic skin texture and match the different skin colors. To achieve this, the 2D team composited together multiple layers and carried out general clean-up of the plates.
Many elements were shot on RED with the MPC Data Lab handling digital development and processing of the media. For dailies, the lab trans-coded the footage directly to native AVID media files and project bins so editor Ben Harrex at Final Cut could start cutting immediately with no additional transcoding or importing. For the high quality media, the lab was able to process large amounts of 2K data on the render farm very quickly. The lab's client area meant that during the heat of the final delivery stages Michael Gracey was able to make additional footage selections which could then be rendered out and delivered straight to the VFX suites within minutes.
Paul Harrison and Jean Clement Soret added the master grade, balancing the back plates, live-action heads, and CG bodies.
Director: Michael Gracey
Agency Producer: Fabrice Brovelli
Creative: Agnes Cavard & Valerie Chidlovsky
DoP: Alex Barber and Greg Fraser
Production Company: Partizan Midi Minuit
Executive Producer: Jaques Etienne Stein
Post Supervisor: Rahel Makonnen
Editor: Ben Harrex@ Final Cut
Post Production Company: MPC
Executive Post Producer: Vittorio Giannini
Post Producer: Paul Branch,
VFX Supervisors: Dean Robinson and Ludo Fealy
3D VFX Team:
James Bailey, Anthony Bloor, Ross Denner, Ali Dixon, Daniel Elliott,
Ahmed Gharraph, Andreas Graichen, Lewis Guarniere, Mark Harrison,
Robert Hesketh, Jake Mengers, Alexandre Millet, Jorge Montiel, Jordi
Onate, Vicky Osborn, Emanuele Pavarotti, Simon Payne, Dean Robinson,
Wayne Simmons, Charlotte Tyson, Grant Walker
2D VFX Team: Dan
Adams, Chrys Aldred, Mark Beardall, Mike Brazelton, Kelly Bruce, Stuart
Bullen, Hayley Collins, Miodrag Colombo, Ludo Fealy, Olivier Jezequel,
Vaibhav Marathe, Alasdair McNeill, Mikael Pettersson, Yourick Van Impe
Telecine: Paul Harrison and Jean-Clement Soret