Agency: COLENSON BBDO AUCKLAND
Director: DAMON DUNCAN
Animation/VFX: ASSEMBLY http://www.assemblyltd.com
Damon Duncan, director at Assembly in Aukland, NZ: “Colenso BBDO came to Assembly with a fantastic concept for their client Anchor — the concept was based around a new package that protects the milk from being exposed to light.
“The concept was to create a glass cow, desperate to keep its precious cargo away from the light. Assembly leapt at the chance to create a test to prove the concept. This was a little less polished than the final results but gave Colenso and the team at Anchor the confidence that the idea would could work in the real world.
“There were a few sleepless nights leading up to the filming as we were shooting this spot in the depths of a New Zealand winter, famous for its long, rainy days. We were lucky enough to have good weather on the shoot days however, a blessing as the entire concept hinged on the interplay of shadows and the sun, both extremely important characters in the scripts.
“We used full size cutouts of cows on the shoot so we could frame up on the correct scale within our scenes. Ultimately we relied on cinematographer Ian McCarrol’s feel for the motion we were trying to express when we were capturing our clean plates, leading the viewers to the action and endeavoring to follow the protagonists on the screen. We made the decision very early on to keep the camera very naturalistic with a softened handheld feel, utilizing a bungee rig on the camera to achieve this.
“The animation of the cows was extremely important to achieve the subtlety that we were after, injecting the right amount of character into the cows without losing their bovine qualities. The extremely talented animation department at Assembly tackled the job with an eye to weight and gravity to ensure the large amount of volume that the cows were moving around inside them felt believable and true to the real world.
“Technically this job was an enormous challenge. From the rendering of the glass to the simulation of the milk there were numerous issues to overcome.
“Our pipeline started with Maya where the cow modeling, rigging and animation was done. The animation was all keyframe. Maya Muscle was used to achieve convincing skin sliding and jiggle effects while maintaining volume. Despite the cows being made of glass, it turned out that these effects were an important part of getting the cows to appear lifelike and full of bovine character. We then used the built-in point caching to transfer the completed animation to 3ds Max.
“Once inside Max, we used Thinkbox Frost to calculate the mesh from our fluid particle files that we generated in a proprietary fluid simulator. We cached the fluid meshes to the network with Thinkbox XMesh to give us fast scene interactivity. On top of this mesh we used some custom modifiers made in Thinkbox Genome to get smooth sides and sharp edges where the milk hits the glass.
“Once we had a nice milk mesh, we cached the subsurface light scattering (SSS) contribution on the milk. This means we could re-render without having to wait for the time consuming SSS calculations. It also meant that the milk surface stayed smooth and flicker free despite being refracted through the glass.
“All the rendering was done using V-Ray and we used Thinkbox Deadline to manage simulation, caching, and 2D and 3D rendering tasks on our render farm.
“The bird was all made in Maya with individual feather geometry. Because of the bird’s rapid movement, it was animated with subframe animation so that the motion blur would reveal all the action.
“All the comp work was completed in Nuke 7 using deep compositing for some of the crowd shots. Having deep renders meant we could render all the cows in one pass and then insert grass mattes in between individual cows for the grass/ground integration.
“We used The Foundry Hiero to maintain a current cut of each commercial, ready for review at any time. As each shot was updated and finished, they seamlessly updated in context of the full edit. We also found it great for making tweaks to the cut right up to the deadline.
Director: Damon Duncan
3D: Craig Speakman, Geoff Kirk-Smith, Rhys Dippie, Josh Fourt-Wells, Gary Sullivan, Sergey Poltavskiy, Alex McLeod, Craig Baxter, Dale Hobson
Compositor: Frank Rueter
Colorist: Pete Ritchie
Editor: Phillipe Lods
DOP: Ian McCarrol
Maya, Nuke, V-Ray, Thinkbox Deadline