Rodeo FX Provides History Lesson with VFX
October 20, 2014

Rodeo FX Provides History Lesson with VFX

Rodeo FX turned back time in a new campaign from the Government of Canada. 

The 60-second spot and its 30-second version commemorate the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation and re-enact some of the country’s key historic moments, freezing them in time for viewers to appreciate. Agency Tank conceived the campaign, which was produced by La Cavalerie. The campaign is appearing across Canada in both English and French.

The Rodeo FX team used both shooting techniques and digital VFX to achieve the final results. Artists created and enhanced decors and environments to reflect the way they would have appeared in 1864 when the Fathers of Confederation settled the basics of the historical union. 

In one spot, water splashes from beneath the wooden wheels of a horse-drawn carriage. The water freezes in the air as a mother and child converse nearby. The scene involves two different plates: the main one with the carriage, woman, child and the man on the nearby steps; and a second plate with the horseman in the background. For the main plate, the camera was on a dolly. As it was moving forward, the frame rate was changed from 24 fps to 96 fps to simulate the slow motion. The desired image was then frozen, a challenge since the camera continues moving forward. While the actors could hold their position, the foliage in the tree needed to freeze too. Rodeo FX performed a 2.5D projection of the elements on cards.

The second plate was shot separately to allow for flexibility in positioning the horseman and synching his action with the foreground elements. Both plates were then composited together, and a matte painting was projected onto background geometry. The puddle and splash were added in CG.

In another scene, coffee is frozen in time as it pours into a cup. The scene was shot at 48 fps with the actors holding their poses. Rodeo FX added a CG window, with a 2.5D matte painting through it, and added CG smoke above the cup of coffee, as well as the overall dusty atmosphere.

In another scene, locals crowd around a train during the inauguration. The scene was shot at 24 fps and incorporates a real train, which is actually on display in a museum. The team hung a greenscreen around it and added lighting to suggest an outdoor setting. Live action was shot of the characters and the train, which was later integrated with a 2.5D matte painting. Rodeo FX also added CG smoke and atmospheric effects.