Sunday, June 24, 2018
  • Friday, Aug. 19, 2016
Passion Pictures' Promo For BBC's Olympics Coverage Tops VFX/Animation Chart
Derek Picken (l) and Niklas Rissler of againstallodds
"The Greatest Show on Earth" taps into animal kingdom to show athletes' dedication

In this animated piece, against the backdrop of the luscious Tijuca Rainforest, we see exotic animals preparing for competition. Jaguars are sprinters, otters are swimmers, alligators are high divers--and their power and grace underscore the athletic prowess of their human athlete counterparts who are readying themselves to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In fact, these animals gradually transition to the human world over the course of the animation, artfully promoting BBC Sport’s coverage of the Rio Games.

Titled “The Greatest Show on Earth,” this trailer--directed by againstallodds (Derek Picken and Niklas Rissler) via Passion Pictures--is the centerpiece of a BBC Sport campaign conceived by a creative team at Rainey Kelly Campbell & Roalfe/Y&R, London.

The animation captures the rainforest and the wildlife to stunning effect, complemented to the rousing soundtrack “Not Gonna Break Me” by British artist Jame N Commons. We see a sloth take on gymnastics, an armadillo clap its hands in chalk in preparation for weightlifting, a hammer-throwing anteater, a jaguar poised to race the 400 meter dash--and they all become human. It’s fitting that the strength, power and intensity of these athletes is brought to life by Brazil’s animals in the host country’s signature rainforest.

Major challenges
“The design of the rain forest was a big creative challenge,” said Picken, half of the againstallodds duo. “We didn’t want to make a photo realistic jungle but rather art direct it to suit our purposes. There is such an amazing array of plants, trees, flowers to choose from but we had to be picky. The passage of time was also a tricky lighting challenge. We wanted to use the lighting and atmosphere to act almost like a character, building the narrative and adding scope to the film.”

Picken’s againstallodds compatriot, Rissler, defined the project’s most daunting technical challenges, relating, “Creating a jungle environment was something we hadn’t done before. We wanted it to be believable yet stylized. It was tricky finding the balance and good level of detail. The same goes for the animals themselves, balancing realism versus stylization; we wanted them to look alpha so we bulked them up and tweaked their anatomy so that they could believably perform their respective sport. Getting the rigs to work for animal as well as ‘human’ behavior was tricky. Luckily we had an amazing team working on this.”
Charlotte Lock, director of media engagement and marketing & audiences, BBC North, said, “The Olympics is a spectacle of elite athleticism and Rainey’s creative analogy with the finest athletes of the Rio Rainforest has given us a stunning and original take on the Games.”

Mark Roalfe, chairman and chief creative officer of RKCR/Y&R, noted, “We’ve set the bar pretty high with our work on the Olympics with BBC Sport in previous years, so humanizing animals felt like a fresh and interesting approach to differentiate ourselves from all the activity around Rio 2016.”

Passion also produced the BBC’s London 2012 Olympic Games campaign for RKCR/Y&R. This time around, the new campaign launched on July 10 right on the back of the Wimbledon Men’s finals. Three cut-downs, radio and social followed in the build-up to the opening ceremony on August 5. The campaign theme and transformation from animals to human athletes continues into the titles for the campaign throughout the full course of the Summer Olympics in Rio.

Cannes momentum
The debut of “The Greatest Show on Earth” comes on the heels of againstallodds and Passion Pictures winning the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity’s Cyber Grand Prix for the Spanish Lottery’s “Justino” from Leo Burnett, Madrid. (It was one of two Cyber Grand Prix honorees, the other being ING Bank’s “The Next Rembrandt” from J. Walter Thompson, Amsterdam.)

A charming animated piece, Justino tells the story of the title character, a night watchman at a mannequin factory. He cleverly communicates with daytime co-workers (with whom he doesn’t otherwise interact) through the creatively inspired posing of the company’s mannequins.

See top ten VFX Chart here.