Vision Q&A: Winging It

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Framestore, the U.K.-based effects shop that has realized such commercials marvels as Levi's "Odyssey" and Xbox's "Champagne," has been getting some serious bearings at its newly opened outpost at the SoHo on the other side of the Atlantic. Most recently, the shop spearheaded the work on the Bruno Aveillan-directed MGD "Labels" spot, taking full advantage of its talent on both turfs. New York-based VFX Supervisor Mike McGee oversaw the Auckland shoot while, back in London, head of commercials Andy Boyd crafted the bird/butterfly-like fliers. Ultimately, all was handed off to U.S. colleagues Murray Butler and Maryanne Lauric, for the final composite. Here Boyd and Lauric speak about the challenges of their roles.

C: What was your biggest concern with regards to the animation?

Boyd: Adding a natural movement to each individual label so that each label would appear unique and not like duplicated animation. For closer shots we gave the animation a butterfly feel and for wider shots we used a little bird motion.

C: Was there any trickiness to the compositing?

Lauric: The main trick, I guess, was having the labels look as real as possible, so they wouldn't be questioned even before they peeled off. Spritz on the label for a couple of shots was a little bit of a challenge but we ended-up making a tested texture plate in 2-D that was tracked in 3-D and then used for displacement again in the composite. Getting the right feeling of depth in the major "flocking" shots was important. There was also a completely backlit shot that saw the labels coming under an overpass and behind it was a lens flare. It is always the smallest of touches that can add volumes to the final look of a shot; you just gotta have the patience.

C: What about the overseas collaboration?

Boyd: It was great. We used [the time difference] to our advantage. Correction given after a days work in N.Y. would be done in our day, their night, so the next morning in N.Y. everything was ready for them, as if magically done over night.

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