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GE ‘Ideas’

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This touching spot for General Electric was put together by the team at BBDO, Biscuit and award-winning director, Noam Murro. The adorable character seen throughout the spot represents the life cycle of an idea - from it's initial messy conception, through to being nurtured into a stunning result.

The personification of the idea is represented by three stages of the furry character - a' baby', an 'ugly/messy' phase and the 'beautiful' final reveal. The VFX artists at Method Studios were supervised by Rob Hodgson and relished the chance to help bring the hero character to life. It was important that the character felt like the same creature throughout the commercial, but that it's personality and appearance evolved over time.

EARLY IDEA


The 'baby' idea at the start of the spot was a handheld animatronic puppet and the Method crew combined multiple plates of different actor takes and erased unwanted reflections and shadows.

The 'ugly/messy' creature was realized by a man in a practical suit with an animatronic head for his expressions. These shots were captured in camera and ultimately needed very little cleanup. Rob notes, "The last time we see the ugly and messy idea he is walking away from us with a more buoyant movement. During editing, it became apparent that this last shot before the full reveal should have some indication of the nurturing taking place. We added some subtle color to his fur, and created a CG tail that had to fully integrate with the live action plate of the practical tail, while interacting with the floor and creating shadows."

BEAUTIFUL RESULT


The 'beautiful' phase of the idea was to be the most challenging section of the commercial for Method, as it was determined early on that the creature for this section was to be fully computer-generated. The 'ugly' suit was used as a stand-in on set, which gave the audience a great eye-line point for their reaction and allowed the director and DP something tangible to compose the final shots with. It also gave Method's animation team useful reference material. Early tests determined that the underlying movement from the stand-in creature was to be used as the base, so the animation was based on a rotomation of that practical element. Subtle additions to the animation gave the idea character a more upbeat feel and reduced some of the awkwardness that came from the limitations of the practical suit.  

The further challenge of the CG creature was creation of 'upbeat' fur, and the head and tail feathers that were  representing the flourishing of the idea. "The upturned, happy looking fur on the body of the creature is a fairly unnatural look in a physics-based world, but the end result matched the concept art perfectly" says Rob. "The Moulin Rouge style tail feathers were very challenging, in terms of animation, scale, weight, flexibility, and lighting. We know what regular bird feathers look like and behave, but 4-5 feet long feathers are greatly open to interpretation and our team did a fantastic job with those." 

He concludes, "Compositing the end shot was very involved. The camera was facing directly into the spotlight from behind, which was then occluded by the stand in creature walking in front of it. We wanted to keep the reality of the lens flares and the subtle changes of light and shadow as the creature walked in. Lighting of the CG elements and the subtleties of compositing together contribute to make the end shot such a memorable pay off."


Keywords

  • Characters
  • Compositing
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