An environmentally friendly approach to urban development is the subject of this spot for Grenelle, a French neighbourhood near Paris. Circus, co-founded by Jérôme Bacquet and Julien Villanueva, worked with director NoBrain to transform industrial landscapes into greener areas for the spot. Bacquet tells fxguide about his studio’s work. Interview by Ian Failes

View QuickTime of the completed commercial.

fxg: What did this commercial set out to achieve?

Bacquet: The goal was to show that the protection of the environment is one of the biggest challenges created by humanity. Also at stake is to move the spectator through the changes brought about in their daily life – modification of their home, their neighbourhood, tramway, trees, countryside. These new environments should seem plausible in the near future and not too far off.

fxg: What kind of design or conceptual work did you look to?

Bacquet: The whole of the film had to be believable in terms of the realism of the images and effects.  What was needed was to find an interesting effect and a graphically strong one to work the changes on the running time of the film. The changing plates – close to dominos – idea was chosen by NoBrain. With NoBrain being graphic designers by trade, the dialogue with them was very easy. They had already accomplished a pre-animation. For our part, we had also already performed a realistic transformation test which was quite advanced. We had equally made several propositions for the turn around: on the edge, on the diagonal and vertically.

fxg: Can you talk about what plates were shot for real for the commercial?

Bacquet: We began with real images filmed by NoBrain which we modified. The extra plates only served as references for the 3D creation. The film consisted of two worlds to create: the “before” (actual world) and the “after” (the new environment). We made 2D matte paintings to rapidly define the two worlds.

fxg: What approach did you take to each of the transforming or flipping pieces of land?

Bacquet: We started by tracing the plans in 3D. From the beginning, we made an animation to judge the effects and regulate the rhythm of the pieces of land. Progressively, this animation was enriched by more detailed modeling. In parallel, the 2D matte paintings were next re-projected onto 3D by camera mapping. Next we worked on the shaders, the lighting, the shadows and the reflections. For the transformations, we defined with NoBrain how these would operate on each drawing: in rotation for drawing 1, vertically for drawing 3, diagonally for drawing 4, and random rotation for the last drawing. These animations were made manually, except the last one which was automated by script and the program Ice. The whole spot was made with Softimage XSI.


Client: Grenelle
Agency: TBWA Paris
Production company: El Nino
Producer: Delphine Guerin
Director: NoBrain
Line Producer: Francois Lamotte
DOP: Franck Leclerc
Post producer: Guillaume Larose
Post house: Circus

1 thought on “Circus is Ringleader for Grenelle Spot”

  1. If I see another one of these foldout flipping environment commercials I think I’ll poke my eyes out.

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