This brand film for Lacoste out of agency BETC Paris features a couple whose relationship has hit a rough patch. They are arguing and on the verge of breaking up. Words that can’t be taken back are said and a metaphoric gap is created between the man and the woman. As their apartment and the entire multi-story building housing it collapses and crumbles into pieces around them, they suddenly realize that they have gone too far, and they take a brave leap back towards each other. The scene is intensified by the spectacular stunts and decor, in a powerful illustration of their desperate fight to not give up on one another and their values.
Directed by French collective Megaforce via production house Iconoclast, this piece--titled “Crocodile Inside”--was driven in significant part by visual effects from Time Based Arts, London. The piece earned distinction as the #1 entry in SHOOT's quarterly Top Ten VFX/Animation Chart.
Francois Roisin, creative director at Time Based Arts, said, “We were so excited to craft the VFX on this project due to the nature of it, destruction, smoke, debris--an effects artist’s wet dream! But what is nice about this film is that it is not all about that! The VFX was there to support and illustrate the emotional turmoil our characters are going through. It is more of a backdrop and therefore we had to carefully gauge the amount of destruction happening in the background, it can never steal the show from the actor’s play so we had to sometimes dial down some effects, or just be a bit more considerate about where things start to break within the framing.
“We spent a fair amount of time building a previz before the shoot. This way we could figure out camera angles but also the distance between the parts of the building at any given shot, as well as the speed the two move apart from each other. We closely worked with Marco (production designer Puig) to make sure the set build and previz would line up pretty well when it comes to place our real cameras! The directors were keen on the idea of shooting the piece in chronological order (mostly) which helped us massively to keep track of building angles, distances, amount of destruction.”
Time Based Arts deployed Houdini, Flame, Nuke and Resolve on the spot. CG was executed on Houdini, both for simulation as well as lighting and rendering. Houdini allowed for marrying procedural modeling (lots of repetitions of objects in the building such as bricks, floorboard, plaster walls) and complex simulations. It made sense to also render in the same software to avoid headaches having to transfer elements between different software. Compositing was a mix of Flame and Nuke.
Previz, teaming with Megaforce
Roisin noted of the Lacoste piece, “Hopefully it is not visible in the film, but delivering the VFX for this project was a real challenge. Time was against us as well as having to craft one split building across many shots. Our preproduction work was vital (previzualization, destruction R&D, furniture build, environment build). We had our ducks in a row so when we received the first edit, it was more a matter of assembling our elements together rather than build everything from scratch.
As for Time Based Arts’ working relationship with the directorial team, Roisin recalled, “Last time we partnered with Megaforce on a big job was for Nike’s ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ which was a whole different beast. Lots of shots, compositing, not so much CG, nothing like ‘Crocodile Inside,’ which heavily relied on the VFX to seamlessly tell the story of our lovers. As usual it was a pleasure working with Megaforce. They were greatly involved in the making, having a deep understanding of VFX. They could give us accurate feedback and leave out what was obviously work in progress. Megaforce considers VFX as a story enhancer and not just for the effect which makes the work very meaningful in the end.”
Click here to see the full quarterly Top Ten VFX/Animation Chart.
Client Lacoste Agency BETC Paris Bertille Toledano, Gaëlle Gicqueau , Fanny Buisseret, management; Rémi Babinet, executive creative director; Aurélie Scalabre, creative director/art director; Olivier Aumard, creative director/copywriter; Damien Bellon, creative director; Jessica Fecteau, assistant art director; Christophe Caurret, music creative director; Philippe Martin-Davies, strategic planner; Fabrice Brovelli, Karim Naceur, Slim Trabelsi, internal production. Production Iconoclast Megaforce, directors; Charlotte Marmion, producer. Sound Production Iconoclast Publishing Music “L’Hymne à l’amour,” Edith Piaf. Visual Effects/Animation Time Based Arts, London Francois Roisin, creative director; Josh Robinson, VFX producer; Federico Vanone, VFX supervisor; Lewis Crossfield, colorist; Thiago Dantas, lead Flame; Shel Gardner, Leo Weston, Adam Paterson, Jamie Crofts, Stephen Grasso, David Birkill, Matt Jackson, Flame artists; Bernardo Varela, Grant White, Leandro Vazquez, Manolo Perez, Matt Shires, Will Robinson, Paul Sullivan, Nuke artists; Mike Battcock, Federico Vanone, lead 3D; Sam Osbourne, Ben Cantor, David Loh, Fabrice Le Nezet, Federico Vanone, Gareth Bell, James Mann, James Spillman, Matt Evans, Stephen Murphy, Tom Di Stasio, Walter How, Zoe Sottiaux, Jiyoung Lee, 3D. (Toolbox: Flame, Nuke Maya, Houdini, Resolve) Actors Oulaya Amamra, Kevin Azais.