Wednesday 28th May 2014

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Miniature scale sets with CG Characters.

In October 2013 I returned to my friends at Nexus Productions as a freelance lead for this project. I started out by developing the animatic with directors Smith and Foulkes, whilst working alongside Art Director Clayton McDermott and Model Supervisor Andy Gent specifying the shape and dimensions of the apartment block.

This involved a lot of too and fro and as camera moves developed we’d feed these changes through into our plan for how to put the whole set together. After discussions with DOP Malcom Hadley and moco operator Matt Day we decided to shoot the interior and exterior sets in separate passes, but placed in exact registration to avoid any errors in the camera moves.

Meanwhile character lead Florian Casper alongside Matt Clark and Andy Hickenbottom were modelling the characters. This involved much early experimentation trying to make characters that could appear puppet like but also convey the right range of emotion and personality in the brief moments we glimpse them.

Whilst this was progressing I also worked on some lighting ideas that I’d wanted to try for a while – namely projecting HDR lighting information onto proxy geometry rather than the character receiving their light from a sphere positioned at an infinite distance from them. Early tests were very surprising, having lights positioned in space and bounce coming from flooring and walls made a subtle but compelling difference that made the jump in render times worth the hit. Patrick McDonald came on board a few weeks into this process and developed my experiments into a solid system that helped with both the speed and consistently of lighting across shots.

I put together a mini HDRI capture rig and lighting reference balls for the shoot (which you can read about here). As I knew I wanted to capture as much of DOP’s  real lighting as possible it made sense that he should have meaningful proxy characters to light, so I had two of the character busts 3D printed, painted and mounted to act as stand ins. These models also served as great lighting reference once we got back to the studio.

Over ten (very cold) days down at Clapham Road studios in South London, myself and 2D Lead Gary Kelly supervised the shoot. This meant guiding the moco team programming the moves and then gathering as much data and reference as we could. As the shoot progressed Gary was constantly putting together slap comps to check everything was sitting perfectly and sending footage back to the studio for work to start.

The rest of the process took about 6 weeks, putting plates together, animating the characters, lighting and bringing everything together. It’s rare to have a decent amount of time to really research, plan and test for a production and so this project was a rarity. Everyone on the team responded to the challenge brilliantly and there was a great spirit on this project which I hope comes across onscreen.

Client: Coca-Cola

Client: Coca-Cola
Title: Buildings
Length: 1×60, 1x30cutdown

Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Portland
Creative Directors: Hal Curtis, Anthony Goldstein & Jeff Gillette
Creative Team: Megs Senk & Tara Dubbs
Agency Producer: Kevin Diller & Ryan Shanholtzer & Julia Lafferty

Production Company: Nexus
Director: Smith & Foulkes
Ex Producer: Julia Parfitt
Producer: Tracey Cooper
Production Manager: Fernanda Garcia Lopez
Project Lead: Ben Cowell-Thomas
Art Director: Clayton McDermott
Character Design: Daniel Burgess
Storyboard Artist: Arshad Mirza Baig
Character Lead: Florian Caspar
Modeller: Matt Clark
Modeller: Andy Hickinbottom
Animation: Dominic Griffths
Animation: Steven Brown
Animation: Stuart Doig
Animation: Sergei Shabarov
Animation: Boris Kossmehl
Animation: Mark Davies
Animation: Eoin Coughlan
Rigger: Dan Lane
Rigger: Pete Addington
VFX Artist: Hugh Johnson
VFX Artist: Pierre Clenet
Texture Artist: Patrick Tomasini
Matte Painter: Dimitri Delacovias
Lead L&R Patrick McDonald
L&R Darren Rolmanis
L&R Thomas Bourdis
Lead Compositor: Gary Kelly
Compositor: Elliot Kajdan
Compositor: Ollie Johnstone
Compositor: Francesco Russo
Compositor: Ronan Carr

Post Production Nexus

Grade Sheldon Gardner – Time Based Arts

Tracking Peanut

Model Maker Andy Gent

DOP Malcom Hadley