Visual effects (VFX) – the art and science of suspending consumers’ disbelief through software-developed visual trickery – has a long and rich relationship with the marketing world.
From visualising horsepower in Guinness’s iconic ‘Surfer’ ad through to giving a real time voice to the irreverent Beats by Dr Dre Pills characters, VFX have long been employed to deliver standout marketing campaigns. And now, thanks to Gravity’s genuinely groundbreaking VFX garnering the double-whammy BAFTA and Oscar win, the field is being celebrated like never before.
Alfonso Cuaron’s film has become synonymous with pioneering VFX, with around 80% of the visuals computer generated by VFX artists. In most scenes it is only George Clooney and Sandra Bullock’s faces that are real, with all their body movements hand-animated, right down to the fingers. Even the interior sets were computer generated.
The VFX industry is constantly playing with technology to develop prototypes, whilst obsessing over "what's next". (And for any Marketing readers who are also asking that question, the answer is probably Oculus Rift).
The immense feat of Gravity’s VFX was achieved by digging deep into this experimental outlook and blending never-before-deployed technology with intensely creative problem solving. The result is a template for success that can be echoed by anyone interested in pushing the boundaries of contemporary marketing.
Scaled for use
Framestore, the brains behind Gravity’s VFX, has been working on hi-end TV commercials for over two decades. More recently, though, they’ve been using their expertise to partner with brands in order develop innovation projects such as McLaren’s Tooned content marketing initiative, Beats by Dre Pill’s CG real time advertising campaigns and Old Spice’s fully embeddable interactive multi-browser app for That’s the Power of Hair.
So it’s clear that visual effects companies apply the same creative problem-solving approach and expertise to making the impossible possible for Hollywood-projects, as they do to their clients’ marketing initiatives. What’s more, the beauty of such a set-up is that the intellectual property and tools that are created for blockbusters can be economically scaled for further use by brands.
Those who can harvest both innovative creativity and technology are the ones best placed to capture the imagination of consumers.
The publicity surrounding Gravity’s VFX has shone a light on the craft, putting creative industries, as well as
The VFX industry is as dependent on the craft and creativity of its brilliant minds, as it is on the mind-blowing software that they use. The sector has been combining these two skills for decades, long before Facebook et al arrived on the scene and showed the world how it’s possible to merge skills that were previously seen as being mutually exclusive.
In today’s digitally-dominated landscape, marketing is becoming increasingly tech-dependent. Technology now plays a crucial role in a savvy marketer’s remit. Only last week, Nestle’s digital chief, Pete Blackshaw, told the Mobile World Congress that technology is the price of entry for anyone who aspires to be a chief marketing officer. Yet marketing – just like its VFX cousin – also requires the art of creative thinking to develop an idea that is capable of catching alight in consumers’ minds.
It’s taken the visual effects industry decades of blending artistry with software to reach the global recognition it richly deserves. But marketers don’t have that long to make their mark. So if there’s one standout takeout that we can learn from the unstoppable rise of British VFX, it’s this: those who can harvest both innovative creativity and technology are the ones best placed to capture the imagination of consumers and lead the way.
Nykeeta Tish is client services director at FramestoreFollow