Framestore Brings Dinosaur To United Nations To Address Climate Change, Avoid Extinction

By

Robert Goldrich
Friday, Oct. 29, 2021

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The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has brought a ferocious, talking dinosaur to the United Nations’ headquarters to urge more climate action from global leaders, in this short film launched as the centerpiece of the organization’s new “Don’t Choose Extinction” campaign.

Bursting into the iconic United Nations General Assembly Hall, famous for history-making speeches by leaders from around the world, the imposing dinosaur tells an audience of shocked and bewildered diplomats and dignitaries that “it’s time humans stopped making excuses and started making changes” to address the climate crisis.

The film introduces the key issue of the campaign; the world is spending hundreds of billions of dollars on fossil fuel subsidies, while billions of people live in poverty. Priorities must shift if humanity and earth are to survive. The global pandemic has shaken us all, but it also provides a unique opportunity to re-imagine the future as a sustainable green future for all.  “Don’t Choose Extinction” is UNDP’s way of raising awareness around this monumental challenge.

Through the campaign UNDP is sparking a global conversation and urging people worldwide to take urgent climate action to help ensure we collectively meet the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs.). 

Activista, a purpose-driven creative agency based in L.A., led the strategy and creation of the “Don’t Choose Extinction” platform including the launch of the film, which was written in collaboration with David Litt, Obama’s speech writer while in office. This first-ever film to be made inside the UN General Assembly using computer-generated imagery (CGI) features global celebrities voicing the dinosaur in numerous languages, including actors Jack Black (English), Eiza González (Spanish), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Danish), and Aïssa Maïga (French). The short film has been translated into 32 languages and counting. 

Activista also partnered with Framestore Pictures and Oscar-winning VFX studio Framestore to deliver the shoot and computer-generated dinosaur for the film. Having worked closely together 20 years prior on the BBC Emmy Award-winning docuseries, Walking with Dinosaurs, Framestore Pictures director Murray Butler and Framestore creative director Marco Marenghi teamed to bring the striking Utahraptor to life. Butler and Marenghi developed the look and feel of the menacing creature with a world-class team, delicately striking a balance between anthropomorphism and realistic behavior. The dinosaur was beautifully brought to life through music composed by Oscar winner Rachel Portman OBE, the first ever female composer to win an Academy Award, with String and Tins creating the final audio.

Butler said, “We studied the way great speeches were delivered in film and TV and approached this project with the same cinematic language (just with a dinosaur as the orator). We opted to use two cameras, which enabled us to covertly capture spontaneous reactions and cover action from a variety of levels and angles throughout the Hall. The stirring musical score, our computer-generated dinosaur hero, and the UN staff members and delegates who volunteered their time to play the role of the audience each brought this incredible film to life for an important cause.” 

Jim Stewart, sound designer, String and Tins, commented, “It was a pleasure to be involved in the UNDP’s Climate and Inequality campaign. While it has its cinematic moments and an amusing rug-pull, the sincerity of the message remained paramount--a warning for humans from a dinosaur’s perspective. While working on the Utahraptor’s voice over, we spent a lot of time drawing a fine balance between the message remaining human and the sound feeling realistic. For us it was fun not having to follow the cinematic cliché of a dinosaur introducing itself to the audience via a deafening guttural roar. Instead we created intimate throat gurgles and sharp nostril flares to portray the beast’s foreboding mood. We’re looking forward to the film and it’s message being heard around the world!”

The campaign has been designed to address multiple common excuses around why things can’t shift on climate change. To curb inaction, the film leads viewers to a digital behavior-change eco-system called The World of Excuses, created by Wunderman Thompson Australia. The digital experience aims to help motivate individuals from apathy to understanding, and ultimately action, by arming them with inspiration, tools and experiences as they navigate the digital World of Excuses. 

Credits

Client United Nations Development Program Agency Activista, Los Angeles Paco Conde, Beto Fernandez, executive creative directors; Jon Carlaw, director of strategy; David Litt, writer. Production Framestore Pictures, bicoastal & London Murray Butler, director; Jennifer Siegel, managing director; Anne Vega, head of production; Laura Morris, line producer; Wyatt Garfield, DP. VFX Framestore, bicoastal & London  Carla Attanasio, director of production; Pete King, exec producer; Chris Harlowe, sr. producer; Jose Alvarado, associate producer; Marco Marenghi, creative director; Karch Coon, VFX supervisor; Richard Shallcross, lighting supervisor; Woei Lee, head of 2D; Mark Casey, compositor lead; Kevin Rooney, Taylor Hodgson-Scott, Edwin Schaap, animators; Craig Tozzi, Kun Hang Wu, Raul Ortego, compositors; Jessica Groom, Kaho Horiuchi, George Saavedra, Marco Amador, Soren Barton, Andrew Thompson, CG artists; Oscar Tan, modeler; Todd Herman, tracking supervisor; Jacob Sadowsky, editorial supervisor; Dustin Indrebo, VFX editor; Beau Leon, colorist; Evan Reinhard, color assistant; Jamie Runkle, color producer. (Toolbox:Maya, Zbrush, Mari, Nuke, Shotgun, Arnold) Editorial Cut+Run Jon Grover, editor; Eytan Gutman, editorial producer; Evan Bahnsen, assistant editor. Audio String and Tins Jim Stewart, sound design & mix; Joe Wilkinson, additional sound design. Foley The Foley Barn Olivia Endersby, audio producer. Music Coordinator COOL Music Music by Rachel Portman; Luke Richards, music programmer.

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