May 1, 2008
The Skinny Boasting a compact and sleek design as well as five vibrant colour choices, Sony’s new digital camera, the Sony Cyber-shot T2, is a natural magnet for youth consumers. And the challenge of matching Sony’s marketing message to the youth-oriented camera for the China market was taken on by agency Fallon Tokyo, production company Lunar Films Shanghai and post house VHQ Post Singapore with their 30-second upbeat animation-live action mix TVC, Feel It. Tapping on youth culture, the spot follows in live action, five friends’ visit to a dance club. Stepping into the nightspot, each member of the group whips out a Sony Cyber-shot T2 digital camera of the five colours, and starts to snap. As the flash goes out, the five friends are transformed into ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ animated young individuals dressed in each of the five Cyber-shot T2 colours, in the live-action environment of the club. Holding the real digital cameras, the animated characters dance and interact with live actors amidst flashing and coloured lights, drinks, music and action in the real dance club. Integrated with the live-action footage, the animated characters snap away and show off the pictures on the cameras’ LCD displays before a flourish of photographs cascade like confetti over the dance floor and zooms into the camera to highlight the gadget’s built-in storage capabilities. The Production The entire spot, including parts to be replaced by the five animated characters was shot using Arri 35mm film cameras under the direction of Lunar Films Shanghai’s Tan Khiang. “Tan Khiang planned every shot carefully and technically to make sure that the animated characters had enough space and flexibility to interact with the live talents,” shared Terence Leong, associate creative director from agency Fallon Tokyo. “Film was chosen as it provided the desired quality,” Tan Khiang quipped. The director also revealed that the production team took considerable time and effort to find the right acting talents who look similar to the animated characters to represent them in the production phase. The live-action footage served as the guide to integrating the animation elements including actions, positions and scale. The Post Upon confirmation of the characters by characters designer Jason Siu, Bernard Tay and his team at VHQ Singapore went on to test traditional 2D animation. “We used the footage that Tan Khiang shot of the live talents as a guide for the animated characters as we wanted to ensure that we got human-like movements,” explained Tay. Animation started only after offline was approved as placement, angles, and proportions of the characters matched up to the live action footage. Rotoscoping and clean up of the live talents were required for them to be replaced with animated characters in Combustion. Using hand drawn characters, the 2D animation process took a grueling 15 days to complete. “With Flash, we could place the live shots as a background and color directly over the scene and watch a RAM render of the result which is almost instantaneous and does not compromise quality,” shared Wong who revealed the retrace and colouring process in Flash took a further 15 days to complete. After approval of the second work-in-progress presentation, the animation which was made up of multiple layers of colours were pre-composited in After Effects and was then transferred to Flint for the final composition. “This was done to increase efficiency in the time spent on the Flint suite,” Woo noted. Both Adobe Photoshop and After Effects were used in the pre-compositing task, as lighting mattes on the characters were generated based on the live action environment. “Preparing all animation components for the final online helps minimize the layering and job load during final online,” he continued. 3D Maya was also used to generate the cascade of photographs in the last segment of the TVC. Finally, a key challenge came in the task of blending colour and lighting of the dynamic live-action environment with the animated characters. “The real challenge was getting the right lighting for the characters to blend in with the live environment so that they look as though they exist in reality,” she explained. “As the colours and lighting constantly change in the live action environment, attention had to be paid to ensure the lights and colour on animated characters changed accordingly. The characters’ positions and scale in the live footage were also a concern,” Woo added.