Director Marc Forster, Framestore Team On “Not Naughty” Spot For NRMA, Sydney Agency The Monkeys
Framestore’s Los Angeles office partnered with long-term collaborator, director Marc Forster from Tool of North America, to bring to life character animation and VFX work for the new NRMA Insurance holiday campaign out of Australian agency The Monkeys.
This Xmas spot, “Don’t Drive Naughty, Drive Nice,” tells the story of a young girl and her stuffed animal who work together to protect her father from distracted driving. Forster and Framestore worked together to bring the beloved stuffed toy to life, as well as to develop on-set solutions that allowed the team to create a dynamic and engaging film, while working within the limitations of the set’s space.
It was crucial to develop the look of the stuffed toy--the hero of the film--early in the process, and together with character designer Michael Kutsche, a pink denim bunny was developed and concepted. At the start of production, Forster and VFX supervisor Michael Ralla meticulously planned the animated movements of the bunny by blocking out basic choreography with a generic stuffed toy. The bunny was then created as a practical prop, and Forster filmed the puppeteered toy in each shot to demonstrate the movements for the animation team. Forster and Framestore perfected this approach in the film ‘Christopher Robin,’ which resulted in a similarly realistic, high-end look for this commercial--despite the drastically compressed timeline.
A moving car is generally a difficult environment to film in, especially for an emotional story that relies heavily on close-ups, so it was important for the team to devise a way that allowed for maximum flexibility when filming. Close collaboration between DP Ginny Loane and Framestore ensured that Forster was able to capture the desired look and feel for the spot, while still having the ability to move the camera relatively freely within the vehicle. An additional challenge was to convincingly portray the fast movement of the car, as a classic process trailer was time prohibitive, limiting, and inefficient, and a traditional blue screen approach could not provide the necessary natural look and feel during the shoot.
With the help of the Framestore team, production developed a solution that allowed the environment to move around the car, rather than moving the car itself: The production team built the first LED wall for moving picture purposes in Australia to surround most of the car while it sat on a soundstage. This served both as the moving backdrop and the main lighting source for the car interior and talent. The team then captured 360-degree driving footage of the desired locations, and stitched the environment together so it could be displayed on the LED wall during filming. This process ensured that the moving reflections and light outside of the car windows were perfectly in sync with the action inside of the car. Additionally, it created a realistic environment for the talent to act in, which enabled their authentic performances.
The combination of both practical and highly technical solutions yields a touching and emotional spot.
Client IAG/NRMA Insurance Agency The Monkeys, Sydney, Australia Scott Nowell, co-founder/group chief creative officer; Vince Lagana, executive creative director; Ben Sampson, creative director; Tessa Chong, art director; Max Rapley, copywriter; Thea Carone, head of production; Jade Rodriguez, sr. broadcast producer. Production Tool of North America and Exit Films Marc Forster, director; Brad Johns, exec producer (Tool); Ian Falvey, head of production (Tool); Lee Trask, producer (Tool); Lea Churchill-Brown, exec producer (Exit); Karen Sproul, producer (Exit); Ginny Loane, DP; Michael Kutsche, character designer. Animation & VFX Framestore Los Angeles Michael Ralla, VFX supervisor; Marco Marenghi, animation director; Marko Mandaric, CG supervisor; JD Yepes, compositing supervisor; Aamir Karim, Kui Han Lee, Will Brand, CG modeling; George Saavedra, Galina Pak, Rob Garcia, CG rigging. Ron Pucherelli, Samuel Walsh, Taylor Hodgson-Scott, CG animation; John Hart, CG texture; Nate Usiak, CG FX; Chris Sutherland, Brianna Reynolds, Minsang Lee, compositing; Alexandra Wysota, VFX editor; Bethan Thomas, director of operations & production; Rachel Mariscal Creasey, VFX sr. producer. (Toolbox: Nuke, Maya, Houdini, RealityCapture, 3Dequalizer) Postproduction & Color The Editors, Sydney Alexandre De Franceschi, editor; Nicoletta Rousianos, producer. Music Turning Studios Elliot Wheeler.
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