noitulovE is an amazing rush - a visual effects spectacular. William Bartlett, Visual Effects supervisor and the animation team at Framestore/CFC headed by Andy Boyd did an outstanding job of showing the entire history of evolution, - in one spot... backwards. The story also includes exclusive 'making of' video ipod quicktime.
noitulovE took about 3 1/2 months to make, including the shoot and the edit. But from the time the cut was finalised the FSCFC team only had about 8 weeks to create all of history.
movielink(guinness/guinn.mov, Download the final ad as it went to air)
movielink(guinness/Noitulove.m4v, Download the video ipod version of the 'making of' - 24mb)
There is virtually nothing that is not VFX, at least to some extent, -even the opening shots in the bar were shot with green screen in the windows. As soon our heros were are out of the bar - it becomes wall to wall effects throughout to the end.
The spot has been so successful that even other effects companies have called William Bartlett to pass on their best wishes and praise the spot. In the final spot there is a huge range of effects, stock footage, green screen, stop motion, and a total of 15 fully CG characters.
The impressive geological transformations were done with a lot of artistic license. "There are certain cues that we all recognise as timelapse - billowing skys, slight flicker and so on. We tried to incorporate these sorts of things with smooth geological transformations which really represent tens of thousands of years. If you wanted to be accurate one might assume that each still would have a completely different sky - different weather even. We felt this would end up a bit of a mess" explains Bartlett. The team did experiment with the rocks being more "jerky" but again it was confusing so they thought it better to keep the moves smooth and add the timelapse flicker as a more subtle effect.
Clearly the timeline is not linear, time moves to what ever suited the visuals, everything was set by the simple principal that it had to look good. There was no real logic to it all apart from it was all going backwards. "We knew straight away that some things like the rock erosion would be the equivalent of tens of thousands of years while the plants might be months and the creatures were just slightly sped up in reverse." Bartlett explains.
The team did not feel that any 'real world logic' really mattered and that the idea would be clear even when you mixed all the time frames up in the same shot.
It was a complex proposition, especially in keeping a sort of consistency to the look of so many different elements, as the team combined locations, studio sets, stock footage, entirely cg sequences, green screen and so on.
The compositing was all done in flame and inferno. The 3d was done on Maya and Houdini. Broadly the split was that the creatures were done in Maya and the geological effects and plants (that were not live action stop frame) were done in Houdini. - we worked at 1280x720 8bit.
It was going to cinema as well as tv so the team wanted to work a bit higher than PAL but without adding too much to the time everything takes. "We have often worked at this resolution on our high profile projects," says Barlett. "We find it to be a pretty good compromise between resolution quality and expediency."
In terms of lighting and grading, the background plates, such as they were, came from all sorts of different sources. Some filmed on location in iceland, some filmed in a studio, some of it was stock footage, some was shot on digital stills cameras on location, some of it was pure 3d, some was a colarge of photos from our image libraries. Inevitably there was a good deal of inconsistency in all of this. "I decided it was best to try to keep everything as neutral as possible until the end and then grade the final comps. Also it is always better when you are combining 3d to keep the plates neutral and then grade the comp." says Bartlett.
Framestore/CFC has, of course, a bit of 'previous' when it comes to Guinness, having created VFX that helped make 1999's 'Surfer' spot one of the best loved commercials in UK television history. So when AMV BBDO returned to the company for a condensed history of Evolution (that's noitulovE backwards), there was quite a legacy to live up to.
But according to Bartlett, Framestore/CFC has recieved a lot of feedback that people feel that Noitlove is a return to the legacy of Surfer. In fact there is a rumour of more work along the line of Noitlove.
movielink(guinness/surfer.mov, Click here for the original surfer video)
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