Framestore: Private View - Animals

"Aye, aye," I thought, as the VHS leered up at me, labelled only with the title "Animals" and rated CG. Tightly closing my office door and ensuring the blinds were blackout-low, I slid the video into the player with hands a-tremble. Moments later, I was ogling grainy footage of something wet, slippery and smelling of salmon. Yup, a commercial for Audi, featuring car-sized fish driving through a nocturnal city. Simple idea, beautifully shot. If the director was in any way inhibited or constrained by the special effects, it doesn't show. The fish interact perfectly with the environment and therefore look and feel totally at home. I believed it ...

But if cloning recognisable objects is one thing, creating totally new creatures from scratch is a tougher job altogether ("tell me about it" - God). Buckbeak, from the latest Harry Potter instalment, has a lot to live up to - essentially, a child's imagination. So, is the Hippogriff successfully brought to life? My Potter-potty eight-year-old thought so. "Brilliant," he told me, before smarmily adding "of course, it's all done by computer, dad ...". So much for wide-eyed youthful innocence. Next, he'll be denying the existence of the Tooth Fairy and telling me that money doesn't really grow on trees! Thing is, I think the Buckbeak sequence is actually only half-brilliant. True, the creature itself is superb, with incredible attention to detail in its musculature, hair texture, movement and expression. However, it's Harry I've got the problem with.

Unfortunately, young Mr Radcliffe's acting when "alongside" Buckbeak is all a bit Woodentops and that, for me, destroys the magic. A wise man said: "Illusion is 50 per cent what you see and 50 per cent what you are being told you see." Translated, that means: "The effect's worth nowt if the eye-line's out."

So, from post-production to Post Office. This commercial is well executed, yet altogether more conventional. Twin ants in trucks collide, resulting in a boyish bout of "ant rage". Good voice casting, good FX. Just feel I've seen it all before, back in the 20th century.

Onwards and downwards. Deep down to the murky depths of the ocean where a series called Sea Monsters awaits. It's more from the ground-breaking Walking with Dinosaurs team who demonstrate again that computers are the cleverest machines in the universe, as are the people who work them. I must confess to being at a disadvantage here, as the excerpt supplied didn't have any sound, so I have no idea what was being said or gurgled as these virtual amphibians explored their dark and dangerous world. (Though naturally, if we'd had anything to do with it, those sharks would most definitely be singing!)

In this Wrigley's commercial, a slob's dog-breath literally emerges from his mouth as a sodden, grimy mutt. Interestingly, the actor here pulls off a more convincing performance than young Potter, and that makes the dog and the idea funnier and more realistic. Next stop, smellyvision?

The Xbox film, "mosquito", isn't just great advertising, it's also great film-making. It's epic, not only in its cast of thousands, but in its ambition, writing, casting, direction, score and - of course - SFX wizardry. It is truly one of those rare moments when all our crafts, whether creative or technical (and doesn't that line blur so often?) work together in harmony and end up producing a piece of work that makes you genuinely say "I haven't seen that before." Brilliant!

On that note, I'll leave you by revealing that I wasn't actually here at all, I was nothing but a computer-generated figment of Campaign's imagination ...


Project: "Buckbeak"

Director:Alfonso Cuaron

Production companies: Warner Bros, 1492 Pictures, Heyday

Visual effects supervisor: Roger Guyett

Visual effects supervisor: Tim Burke

Visual effects producer: Theresa Corrao

Visual effects producer: Emma Norton

Visual effects and post-production: Framestore CFC


Project: "Drink like a fish"

Client: Audi

Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Art director: Alex Grieve

Writer: Adrian Rossi

Director: Frank Budgen

Production company: Gorgeous

Visual effects and post-production: Framestore CFC


Project: "Dog breath"

Client: Wrigley's

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Art director: Daryl Corps

Writer: Mike Nicholson

Directors: Happy (Guy Shelmerdine, Richard Farmer

Production company: Arden Sutherland-Dodd

Dog: Cracker

Visual effects and post-production: Framestore CFC


Clients: BBC, Discovery Channel, ProSieben

Director/producer: Jasper James

Series producer and director: Jasper James

Executive producers: Adam Kemp, Tim Haines

Production company: Impossible Pictures

Visual effects and post-production: Framestore CFC


Project: "Mosquito"

Client: Microsoft

Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Creatives: Fred Raillard, Farid Mokart

Director: Danny Kleinman

Production company: Spectre

Visual effects and post-production: Framestore CFC


Project: "Twins"

Client: The Post Office

Agency: Publicis

Art director: Jackie Steers

Writer: Ira Joseph

Directors: Simon Willows, Jon Riche

Production company: Blink Productions

Visual effects and post-production: Framestore CFC

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