July 1, 2009
The Skinny The objective of the campaign is to communicate that Berocca with its unique combination of essential nutrients is important for optimum mental and physical performance. The target market are males aged 30 and above who want to stay on top of their game. Conceptually, robots are usually perceived as more reliable and accurate than humans. The spot shows that a human who uses Berocca Performance is capable of superior human performance and therefore, can perform better than a robot. The Production The challenge in this film was to create a convincing robot with a real personality both in terms of look and actions. The producers went through dozens of sketches and pre-renders before shooting with a real actor to give a clear direction into 3D animation. The actor was cast specifically to give the robot its personality and he brought out little details that most 3D animators would have a hard time if they start from scratch. The shoot took place in a real location and the robots were composited over the existing set. The advantage of shooting on film was to give a more realistic texture to the backgrounds and to pull away from a full 3D feel. Shooting in film versus full 3D also proved to be useful in the offline stage. The takes were edited with the live actor posing as the robot. This gave the exact sense of timing and interaction for the 3D animation. Furthermore, during the offline the clients already had a sneak preview of what the robot was going to do. The Post Adobe Photoshop was used for basic image editing, 3ds Max for the 3D modeling, animation, and rendering, and Fusion for compositing and cleanups of the elements. Grading was done on da Vinci Resolve and online finishing on the Quantel EQ. After the robot sketches were approved, the animatics for timing and blocking of the robots were done. Upon approval of the animatics, the team proceed to build the 3D assets. After the assets were approved, it was time to rig the robots for animation. At the same time, the team did the textures, test rendering and composites. The VFX supervisor was on set to supervise the shoot, take reference photography and set up tracker marks for 3D match moving. The main challenge was getting the robots to look photo-real and believable, making them move smoothly and incorporating them to the live shots of the office. A lot of time was spent making a procedural shader that was similar to the peg that the director gave. To make the performance as real as possible, a stand-in actor was hired to perform the robot movements on set. The robots had to be animated to match the actor using key framing techniques. For the look of the robots, the team did some research and tests on its form and texture, because the client wanted the robots to look as if they were manufactured in real life. Several designs and styles of the robots were prepared and shown to the clients to make their preferences known. The animation called for straight-forward robotic movements, but the post team had to make sure that the 3D model would be able to make the required movements. Compositing the robots in the live background and cleaning up the footage proved to be a bit of a challenge. The post team had to get the lighting right inside 3ds max so that they would be able to incorporate nicely into the live footage. The background environments were shot and the images were used as HDR light maps. The other challenge was cleaning up the footage. The production required a stand-in actor for the main robot’s performance but subsequently the team had to completely remove any trace of the actor then replace him with the CG robot.