Mairi Clark finds out how an Italian fresco came to life on a computer
Adidas’s recent campaign for Euro 96 featured five footballers: Marcel
Desailly, Matthias Sammer, Fernando Hierro, Paul Gascoigne and
Alessandro Del Piero.
The five films each starred one of the players and took their creative
lead from their nicknames: Desailly was ‘the rock’; Sammer was
‘firehead’; Hierro ‘the locomotive’; and Gascoigne the ‘magician’. Del
Piero’s nickname, given to him by his Italian home team, Juventus, is
‘Pintoricchio’, a Renaissance painter, so his film was set as a
painting. Of the five films it stands out as a work of art, but the spot
actually owes more to the directing than to the computerised painting
It was directed by Jerry Hibbert, the managing director of Hibbert
Ralph, who shot just two or three actors at a time. Del Piero was filmed
in Milan, while the rest of the actors were recorded in London. After
shooting the live versions of the different scenes, Hibbert overlaid the
films so it looked as if the characters were filmed en masse.
He crafted the whole spot scene by scene, inserting the actors and Del
Piero, as and when they were required. All the London characters were
rehearsed together, but because they were filmed in different sections,
each actor had to remember where Del Piero would be in the shot so that
they could appear to look at him when he was toying with the ball.
Each scene was done in a studio against a blue backdrop to limit the
amount of shadow. The goalkeeper - who in the spot fails to save a goal
kicked by Del Piero from 20 feet below - was filmed on his own, leaping
in the air to save the goal, safely landing on a mattress. In the
finished scene, the mattress is disguised by clouds generated on Henry.
As soon as all the scenes were lined up, the next step was to set them
against the final background, which had been created especially for the
film using images taken from Renaissance paintings.
Once the background was added and the finishing touches had been made on
Henry, Hibbert ran the film through a computer painter program which
added cracks and gave the film the roughened surface look of a painting.
Hibbert believes that his art-school training helped him. ‘I tried to
look at the scenes as if I were a Renaissance artist painting in a
chapel. They tended to compress an event into 12 feet of scene, so I
wanted to get across how a football match would look if the pitch was
that size,’ he explains.