July 1, 2008
The Skinny When TVC Director Martin R. Wilk was given the assignment from Sudest, a leading production house in Vietnam to create a 30-second animation TVC for Vietnamese beer Dai Viet, he knew it was going to be a big challenge. Given his background and long experience in 3D and CG work, Wilk knew exactly what he wanted to achieve: a photo-realistic 3D animated spot featuring a pair of Dai Viet beer bottles dancing a hot tango while gliding on a flat ice surface. However up to that point in time, Vietnam-produced TVCs featuring any kind of CG and 3D animation were limited to pack shots and cartoon styled characters. With a tight budget and limited time, Wilk had to find a solution right there in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The challenge The production was an ambitious one with a challenging budget. It required numerous details, real camerawork in 3D – including figures, jumps, flying ice-particles, motion blurs, depths of field, slow motion. It also had to have carefully created colours and rendering to simulate a late night mood event. Digipost Vietnam discussed all aspects of production with the director, and with support from Digipost Singapore, was all set to meet the challenge. A lot was riding on delivering a unique production in Vietnam – the first in the country where “photorealistic” renderings were used to create an individual look to become a fully animated 3D TVC. The Production After carefully studying the director’s treatment with detailed reference pictures, technical facts and frame-by-frame defined storyboards, the Digipost team first worked on the basic modeling of beer bottles, stadium and crowd. Then the director started work on the light setup for the scenes, just like on real shooting sets. The reflectivity and shadows were defined and various rendering software was tested in terms of quality and speed as this job had a very tight timeline of just three weeks, from scratch to tape. Wilk also worked in several crane or low angle shots with wide-angle lenses where the camera’s point-of-view was gliding at fast speed right behind the bottles vigorously dancing on the icy surface. Creating realistic elements of the ‘set’, from random scratches on the ice surface, glass, metals, progressive freezing of bottles, crushing of ice and cold sweat drops and more, was a tough challenge for the Digipost animators. The animation was done mostly in Maya 3D, controlled by Digipost’s senior animator Sean Baptist. With the tight deadline clearly in mind, the DP team chose not to render out more frames then necessary, which would require another editing step. Instead Maya was used as a kind of editing tool, where different cameras rendered out exactly the right timelines and frames on position according to the shooting board. Director Wilk remarked, “I appreciate working with Digipost. From day one, they trusted my experience and my judgment on when to scale up or down demands to fulfill the best results possible in Vietnam.” “This production proves that with good briefings, a small 2-3 people team in Vietnam can make a low budget project appear comparable to much more expensive overseas spots set up by a larger group of people,” he said. Wilk added, “The DP support is an example of how we could work out problems and stay unstressed, and on course until the happy clients gave us a big, big hug and huge happy eyes” Post script The Dai Viet beer TVC won the Vietnam ad industry’s Golden Bell awards for Best Spot in the CG and VFX category.