2011’s Best VFX TV Spots

From epic environments to subtle surroundings, 2011 was a great year for visual effects in commercials. fxguide takes a look back at some of the year’s best VFX work with our top ten spots of 2011. Rather than show you just the final spots, we’ve tried to include breakdowns and behind the scenes featurettes on how the ads were made.

1. Canal+, Bear: vfx by Mikros Image

Easily our favorite spot in 2011 was ‘Bear’ for Canal+, which saw Mikros Image incorporating a CG bear into a faux look behind the scenes of a film set. We covered the spot here in an interview with VFX supervisors Laurent Creusot and Guillaume Ho. Check out the new breakdown below provided by Mikros.

Watch ‘Bear’.

2. Kia, One Epic Ride: vfx by Animal Logic

In terms of pure epic-ness, these two next spots with visual effects by Animal Logic and Framestore are clear winners. Fittingly, both were featured on TV coverage during the Super Bowl. For Kia’s ‘One Epic Ride’, Animal Logic created a police and chopper chase, mythical water beasts and aliens, all looking to get their hands on the new Kia sedan. Here’s our fxguidetv episode with vfx artist and agency interviews on the spot. Below is a behind the scenes making of from Kia.

3. Coca-Cola, Seige: vfx and animation by Framestore

Framestore went all-animated for its work on ‘Seige’, a Coca-Cola Super Bowl spot that featured evil fire-warriors invading the village of a band of furry, friendly creatures, all set against mountainous and icy backgrounds and with impressive fire-breathing dragons. Once again we covered the work and you can read our article here. Don’t miss Framestore’s CG sharks in this Snickers Focus Group spot, too.

Watch ‘Seige’.

4. DIRECTV, Hot House: vfx by MPC LA

Next up is MPC LA’s work on the DIRECTV frozen moments ‘Don’t Just Watch TV’ campaign. Last year we covered their ‘Ice Cream’ spot, and MPC LA continued their impressive work with ‘Hot House’ and ‘Frozen in Time’. MPC London and LA have done incredible work this year in TVCs, with other notable efforts in Cats with Thumbs, the Sky 360 spot and ‘Street Summer’ for Channel 4 (watch an fxguidetv ep on how they used Nuke for this promo). Below is MPC LA’s breakdown for the ‘Hot House’ ad.

5. Muller, Wünderful Stuff: vfx by The Mill

With a rich combination of 2D animation and crazy 3D animated characters – and fruit and unicorns – this yoghurt spot is just plain fun. Although the characters were cartoony and graphic-like, The Mill also used real-world elements for the ‘splat’ effects, combining fruit shot against bluescreen with the cell animations. Check out the Muller making of below.

6. Kia, More Soul: vfx by Method Studios

Another epic Kia spot, ‘More Soul’ drew on Method’s highly successful Halo: Reach ‘Deliver Hope’ work, this time with mocapped dancing robots and hamsters, as we covered earlier in the year. Watch the final ad here.

7. NBA, Nash: vfx by a52

Perhaps the best example of seamless visual effects in commercials from 2011 was a52’s work on the ‘Future Kids’ series of NBA spots, and most notably this Steve Nash one. Read our interview here on how old footage was augmented with purpose-shot scenes, and check out the making of below. And another spot vying for the best seamless vfx would have to be this NFL Best Fans Ever Super Bowl Commercial, with vfx by The Mill.

Watch The Making Of ‘Nash’

8. Twinings Tea, Gets You Back to You: vfx and animation by Psyop

This Twinings spot truly carries you away with its artistically rendered ocean and central character. Psyop’s other beautiful work on The Great Happyfication for Coke, Tested to Perfection for Castrol and the Fage Plain spot were near-contenders here. Below is the final Twinings commercial.

9. Gears of War 3, Dust to Dust: vfx by Digital Domain

We’ve seen DD take on game trailers before, especially in this earlier Ashes to Ashes spot, but the studio again combined virtual production, final game-look and incredible effects for the cinematic Dust to Dust, all set to Mazzy Star’s ‘Into Dust’ track.

10. Réseau Ferré de France: vfx by Buf

UPDATED: This new take on the tilt-shift technique combines plenty of real footage shot from trains and helicopters, miniature work and CG. Check out Buf’s making of for the spot below which breaks down how they completed the visual effects.

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