Pump up the Bass
London at night: late, but not so late that the city sleeps. The streets bustle with nocturnal activity. Pedestrians stroll the pavements, crossing roads at the appointed places, the traffic pausing to accommodate them. The traffic itself is the familiar urban mix of cyclists, buses, taxis, giant fish and, conspicuously, the Audi FSI.
This surreal scenario is the setting for 'Fish', the latest commercial
'Fish' was shot at night at various London locations, with a slightly
The fish themselves are entirely CG, and the commercial is the result of 6 weeks intensive research, modelling, animation, compositing and grading by a dedicated team of Framestore CFC artists.
The plates - the shots from which real cars would be removed and to which digital fish would be added - were filmed by Frank Budgen over several days at the beginning of January 2003. Inferno Artist William Bartlett supervised the shoot for Framestore CFC.
Unusually for such a 3D oriented job, the pre-vis work for the spot was done in Inferno. This was partly to take the pressure off an already busy 3D team, and partly for the speed with which Bartlett and fellow Inferno Artist Murray Butler could use the Inferno's 3D tools to do a quick camera track and add fish, helping the team to get a clearer line on Frank Budgen's vision as soon as possible.
"People here started work before the shoot, as soon as we got
"The preparatory work we'd done in December meant that we hit the ground running in January,"
says Markus Manninen, Head of 3D Commercials, who, along with Technical Director Jake Menges, Lead Animator Virgil Manning and Lead Modeller Howard Sly, headed the 3D team. "We developed a pipeline that enabled us to smoothly introduce upgraded versions of some of the elements - rigs, shaders - as they were refined." Working in Maya, the team used a single, scaleable rig as the basis for all the regular fish, facilitating the numerous shots requiring large numbers of fish.
A large Inferno team - William Bartlett, Murray Butler, Ben Cronin and
Avtar Bains - laboured intensively to composite the work to the highest
possible standard. The fish had to be seen not simply as passing through
the streets, oblivious to the surrounding roads and people, but to interact
with them as cars do - slowing down, nipping into gaps. Numerous supplementary
passes featuring extras, buses etc. were comped in to enrich the urban
fandango. For the spot to work, they really had to convince.
That a director of Budgen's stature came to Framestore CFC delighted
and flattered the commercials team and is a mark of the high esteem that
the company's creature work currently enjoys. In commercials (as well
as film and television work) the last few years have seen an enormous
increase in the range and quality of Framestore CFC's digital menagerie;
'Fish' adds a dozen or so more beauties to the keep-net.