Outpost VFX has delivered the latest broadcast commercial for Domestos, a Unilever brand. Working with MullenLowe London, Outpost VFX created the 30-second, CG-heavy commercial for international broadcast, employing its film-proven creature pipeline to achieve astonishing quality.

As well as pushing its creature pipeline to the limit, the Outpost VFX team is proud to announce that it implemented the new cross functionality between Redshift and Golaem Crowd to achieve full-CG crowd render times of under an hour per frame. This is the very first time that this functionality has been utilised in a live production.

Although crowd work is a standout feature of the commercial, a wide array of other CG techniques and disciplines were employed to achieve the end result. All of the characters in the commercial are fully CG and were sculpted, textured and animated by Outpost. Numerous particle and lighting effects were then provided by the 2D team to add an extra layer of veneer, and the commercial culminates in an intricate fluid simulation.

Not only did Outpost VFX deliver all the CG for the commercial, the team also developed all the individual germ characters in-house using digital and traditional illustration techniques, storyboarded the entire project and even shot the live-action sequences featuring Unilever’s product.

In addition, Outpost’s founder Duncan McWilliam directed the commercial, overseeing the project and ensuring that perfect work was delivered on time. “Domestos was our first foray into what I would call large-scale animated commercial work that we’ve looked forward to getting into for a long time,” said McWilliam.

“We took the script from bare bones, wrote the treatment, in-house direction – end-to-end production company level service. It’s our first full-CG project where we’ve had a lot of creatures, crowd work and fluid simulation together, so that was all three big skill sectors that we wanted to show off, and it’s a big brand as well. “We do commercials, film and high-end TV.
The brilliant thing with this commercial was we’d just spent six months
developing with Golaem and Redshift – they didn’t talk to each other previously. We got involved, we brought both parties together and we had a live project to work on, which is a feature film we’re currently working on. The six months spent in that R&D cycle meant that when Domestos landed we already had a pipeline that could cope with an eight-week delivery, even with a crowd of 20,000 crazy germs bouncing around in a refractive environment.

“I think our render times were coming down to at most an hour a frame, some of the frames went through in 15 minutes depending on how big of a crowd we were looking at.”

In light of this groundbreaking achievement in rendering, Outpost VFX is looking to continue honing its crowd pipeline in the coming months. It is already functioning in a film context, as McWilliam explained: “We’re going to finish the aforementioned this year, where we’ve got a crowd of 35,000 people in a football stadium dispersing with proper programming and AI, not just standard crowds. Our render times for that are significantly less again because we’ve
managed to streamline the pipeline and we look now to start specialising in crowd for high-end TV where we can take the crowd pipeline we’ve developed for film, streamlined for short-delivery commercials work.

“I think that gives us a unique offering when you’re looking at TV in which everyone expects film quality but the turnaround per show is usually four to six weeks. Ultimately, we’re looking at that commercials speed of delivery but with film-quality assets.”

For its work on the Domestos campaign, Outpost VFX has been announced as a finalist at the AEAF Awards in Sydney, Australia