Close-Up: Live Issue - Framestore CFC creates animal magic for Sure

Lowe London's latest Sure ad stars animals and humans on a grand scale. James Hamilton reveals how the feat was achieved.

Coming up with something to trump Sure's "Stunt City" was never going to be easy. The Cannes gold-winning ad was action-packed, yet understated, and featured neither wild claims of round-the-clock protection, nor the bevy of transfixed beauties associated with the underarm sector.

So the bar is fairly high for Lowe London's follow-up - "go wild" - a celebration of football fans and the more bestial tendencies they reveal when allowed to give free rein to their love of the game during the World Cup finals.

Created by the writer/art director team of Tom Hudson and Lee Goulding, the ad began life as a script that landed on the Lowe executive creative director Ed Morris' desk last summer - the story of fans who literally turn into animals when their football passions are aroused.

"From the start, I said I didn't want to do something that looked like another loose World Cup sponsorship," Morris says. "In 'Stunt City', we set out to announce a new personality for the brand. 'Go wild' was designed to build on this and double the interest by doing it around a great event."

And it does it on a grand scale. The 60-second ad features 302 computer-generated animals, dozens of human extras and live-action creatures shot against bluescreen in Los Angeles. The ad was directed by Noam Murro, the Independent/Biscuit Filmworks director responsible for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" for Levi's and Skoda's "fat gymnast".

Murro filmed empty scenes in and around Buenos Aires in November last year. Animals that would later be shot as either live action or created on computer at Framestore CFC in London were represented by cardboard cut-outs.

The production then decamped to Los Angeles, where the live action animals - chimps, mandrills, bears and hyenas - were shot. Back in London, the team at Framestore CFC, led by the head of 3-D commercials, Andy Boyd, and the visual effects supervisor, Stephan Allender, set about creating the rest of the cast - all 302 of them.

"It was the biggest job we've ever done as a commercial," Boyd says. "Five months, 15 people and more than 300 animals - it's like a film job, but a dream job."

Creating the animals - and recreating some of those shot live action - also allowed Boyd, Allender and their teams more latitude than they normally get on effects jobs. While the script was detailed in terms of what animals were to appear in which scenes, the teams were free to experiment and be creative with the exact movements their creations made.

"The creatures had to remain fundamentally animal while performing some distinctly human tasks," Dale Newton, the head of the animation team, says.

"It was a fantastic creative experience for the team," Boyd adds. "Noam always had his eye on the big picture. He'd say things like, 'More energy, more performance' rather than micromanaging, say, the arm movement of the third chimp from the left. He trusted us to get the details right and to make good decisions."

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