It's a jungle out there in the streets of soccer-crazed cities like London and Buenos Aires-so leave it to Framestore/ London to populate those streets with appropriately wild denizens. 3-D supervisor Andy Boyd and VFX supervisor Stephane Allender discuss the hybrid of live action and CG techniques used to bring the fans-turned-animals of Rexona's "Go Wild," directed by Noam Murro, to life.
How many creatures would you estimate ended up in the final spot?
Boyd: There are 172 live-action animals, all composited by Stephane, and all basically sourced from six animals. There was only one of each animal, so Stephane duplicated and cloned, cutting the head of one animal and sticking it on the bottom of another, to get the performance that he needed from the live action. And then on the 3-D side, we generated about 302 CG animals.
Did you use established techniques, or did you have to invent new ones?
Allender: On the 2-D side, it was very traditional. We used bluescreen to shoot the animals, and we let Noam Murro shoot the background plates with a sort of handheld feel.
Boyd: From the 3D side, up until this spot we had our old way of doing fur dynamics, but because of the volume of animals and the fact that we had to do them in such a short time, we had to come up with a new process. We broke up the animals into those for closeups (what we called "hero animals," like the mandrill and the chimp) and others that would be further away (like the bear), and we tweaked all the settings depending on how far away the animal was. If it's quite small in frame, you would probably only have a million hairs, but it has to be slightly thicker. But if it's a closeup, you would probably have five million hairs, and have them extremely fine.
describe the compositing process.
Allender: You always start with the background, because it's the thing you've got the least control of. Because we were shooting outside, we were dependent on the lighting conditions. Once you've got that, you shoot the bluescreen animals, and from that, you decide what to do CG. We shot the street scenes in Buenos Aires, and the animals in L.A.
What are the challenges of compositing wild animals into a city environment?
Allender: I guess it's a bit easier for us to comp an animal over a concrete background than it is in the jungle. Comping the shadows of 2-D animals is easier over flat surfaces than it is on rocks.
Boyd: If you're comping them in the jungle, it would just look like an animal in the jungle. But as soon as you have the juxtaposition of a wild animal and a city, it becomes interesting.
Allender: But on the other hand, comping those animals over an empty street is a challenge, because you don't have any trees or leaves to hide them.
How did you decide which animals to do CG, and which to do live action?
Boyd: Our rule was quite simple. If a live-action animal's performance was good, we'd always use it, because nothing can look better than the real thing. It was purely performance. The only reason we would go to the 3-D was because we didn't have a performance from live action that suited the shot.
Allender: Or we didn't have the animals to shoot live. For example, we didn't have sea lions or penguins, so they had to be 3-D the whole time.
The orangutan hanging out of the taxi cab-live or CG?
Allender: That was live. We took a car door and painted it blue, and then shot the orangutan sticking his head out of it. And we matched the camera moves to that.
Boyd: There's such a sense of joy about him, isn't there?