Mountains, forests and oceans come to life in ‘World’, a Johnny Green-directed spot for Guinness, with visual effects by The Mill. Lead 2D and Flame artist Rich Roberts gives fxguide an insight into The Mill’s work for the epic commercial.

movielink(09Dec/mill/,or Watch a QuickTime) of the completed commercial.

fxg: What kind of brief were you initially given?

Roberts: The initial brief from Johnny Green, the director, and Paul Brazier, creative, was that this journey from the rocket forming the cloud and rain, all the way to the waterfall, must be totally believable. The approach The Mill always takes is to shoot as much in-camera as possible and then use a variety of effects plates, miniatures and models, CG and matte paintings. It’s the correct combination of these elements that provides the most effective and realistic visual effects. Michael Gibson supervised the New Zealand shoot and Russell Tickner supervised in Canada.

09Dec/mill/GuinessWorld13_000fxg: What sort of matte painting work was involved?

Roberts: Dave Gibbons produced matte paintings for very different scenes in this commercial. We added coral to the underwater sequence in both the wide and close up shots and embedded these with caustics and particles. On a much larger scale the whole backdrop to the final waterfall shot was also matte painted. Horizon lines had to evolve from the flat barren beginnings to the mountainous finale and these were constantly adjusted with the help of matte painting throughout the post work.

fxg: How were the earth splitting shots achieved?

Roberts: The initial small fractures in the ground were achieved in CG using Maya. The area of impact from the shot plates was projected onto basic geometry and animated. The exact direction and length of split could be accurately choreographed this way. For the large divide where the crevice appears, we shot on a large outdoor set comprising two parts which could be pulled apart with water pumped across and practical rain effects. It was shot against a black screen to lift off the rain and composited onto a matte painted backdrop. Extra rain elements, spray, mist and CG lumps of stone and dirt were added with running water composited into the lower levels.

09Dec/mill/GuinnessWorld7_000fxg: Can you break down the grass pulling shots?

Roberts: The close-up grass shots were achieved in camera with large panels of grass being dragged by the actors. As the camera steps back we use the same approach to get the right interaction between the ropes, grass and actor but these grass panels were then tracked and extended in Maya. The landscape, although barren, had to be painted clean of any plant life and new skies and rain were finally added. As we go wider still the grass becomes a matte painting and the men and ropes were composited in from separate plates.

fxg: The scenes of the trees ‘springing’ up are great. What elements made up those shots?

Roberts: The ‘springing’ up again followed the same multi-technique approach. Two 45 foot trees were anchored with huge concrete weights and could be lifted with a pneumatic ram. All the shots were prevized to work out the camera positions needed to achieve the arc of forest. Six camera angles were plotted out and the trees were repeateadly covered in fake snow to get the necessary spray when pulled forward. This was all shot with two cameras to get close-ups of the spray for cutaways.

Smaller 18 foot trees were also shot for the trees first breaking from the ground as this was impratical with the larger tree. Andrew ‘Barnsley’ Wood combined all these plates in Flame and composited them into the back plates. In the helicopter shot across the frozen lake we had to recreate the all practical effects in CG. The trees flexing and snow were all created in CG and tracked into the shot plate. The mountains in the background were altered for continuity with the previous shots and finally falling snow was added.

fxg: How was the final waterfall pull-back accomplished?

Roberts: The foreground cliff face was shot in New Zealand from a helicopter. Once tracked we added a much larger waterfall from a 2D filmed plate from our archive. We then completely replaced the background and sky with a matte painting which we split into a few layers for parallax. In the top left of the frame I restored some of the original mountain scape in order to retain the in-camera lens flare. The team of men seen on the edge of the waterfall were filmed on the roof of a building on location and added along with a flock of CG birds. Extra flares and and spray were added to the foreground and finally we used Fume to produce an element for the transition to the pint of Guinness. This rising spray element was tracked into the waterfall and the surging bubbles within the beer were then revealed through it to produce a smooth transition.


Agency: AMV BBDO

Creatives: Paul Brazier

Producer: Yvonne Chalkley

Production Company: Knucklehead

Director: Johnny Green
DP: Joost Van Gelder, Wally Pfister

Producer: Tim Katz, Fergus Brown

Editing Company: The Quarry

Editor: Ted Guard

Post Production: The Mill

Producer: Lucy Reid, Ben Stallard

Colourist: Adam Scott, Aubrey Woodiwiss

Shoot Supervisors: Russell Tickner, Michael Gibson

Lead 2D: Rich Roberts

Lead Flame: Rich Roberts, Barnsley, Pete Rypstra

Flame Assist: Gareth Brannan

Lead 3D: Russell Tickner, Jordi Bares

3D: Teemu Eramaa, James Spillman, Andy Nicholas, Rick Thiele, Adrien St. Girons, Laurent Makowski, Ed Shires, Tom Blake, Andy Guest, Aidan Gibbons, Sergio Xisto, Suraj Odedra, Jules Janaud, Francois Roisin

Matte painting: Dave Gibbons, Lee Matthews

Kit: Maya, XSI, Baselight, Flame