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Framestore NY Posts Prehistoric Package Plight
AdAge and Campaign have rated Stick - a 45 second spot for FedEx among the top 5 spots shown during the Super Bowl coverage on Sunday 5th February. Created by Eric Silver, Creative Director at BBDO (NY), and directed by the Traktor team, Stick features VFX by Framestore NY, including a number of the company's patented prehistoric performers. The Framestore NY team was led by Senior Inferno Artist, Murray Butler, and Head of 3D, David Hulin the same team that helped BBDO (NY) to bring their sumo wrestling chickens to life for a Pepsi spot in 2005.
Stick tells a sad tale of life before FedEx. Grog is a simple caveman, trying to get an important package well, a big stick, actually delivered by air. 'Air mail', for Grog, comes in the form of a Pteranodon, and Grog carefully ties his stick to the prehistoric bird's leg before sending it on its way. But no sooner is the creature airborne than a T.Rex snatches it out of the sky, and the stick is lost.
Reporting (in subtitled grunts) back to his boss, Grog is told that FedEx would be a sensible alternative. On replying that FedEx does not yet exist, Grog is summarily sacked. Dejected, he walks out of the cave and morosely kicks a small passing dinosaur. Karmic retribution for this cruelty comes instantly in the form of a Brachiosaurus foot, which stomps abruptly down from the sky, ending Grog's unemployment problems once and for all.
Work began for the Framestore NY team at the beginning of December, with the preparation and auditioning of suitable creatures. The shoot took place over three days in mid-December, in the California desert near Lone Pine. Butler and Hulin attended the shoot, braving ultra-low temperatures and 3.30am calls.
With just four weeks to light, animate, render, and composite 11 CG shots, the team had their work cut out for them. Working long hours over holiday period to ensure that Framestore CFC's reputation for the highest quality television dinosaurs available was maintained, the team were also able to draw on the talents of the company's London office for tracking assistance.
The desert location provided a convincing enough environment for the most part, with Butler simply adding a few smoke and atmospheric elements to enhance the chilly, primeval feel.
The first dinosaur we encounter is Grog's messenger Pteranodon. To get a convincing physical interaction between man and virtual beast, the actor playing Grog tied the stick to the leg of a stand-in wearing green tights. Recalls Butler, "There was very bright sunlight on the day and we knew that the Pteranodon would cast shadows on Grog, so we made our stand-in hold his jacket out to simulate wing shadows on Grog. It really helps it look like he and the bird are really in the same place."
Technical Director Theo Jones wrote a Maya plug-in that gave the wings a little extra elastication as the Pteranodon takes off, and Butler also made them kick up a little dust, to further sell the shot.
The T. Rex is a bespoke version of the most famous dinosaur of all, with Hulin's team drawing on many years of experience to create a convincing predator capable of pulling the hapless Pteranodon out of the air and then shaking it violently, dislodging Grog's stick. Similarly, the small dinosaur passing the cave as Grog emerges is of a type familiar to viewers, a harmless herbivore, undeserving of Grog's ire.
The final stomping of Grog by the (mostly unseen) Brachiosaurus is the spot's punchline. "I thought it was important to get something physical on the set to help with that," says Butler, "So we dropped a huge black weight onto a pile of dust from about 30ft up. It really gives you a physical weight hitting the ground."
So another four creatures join Framestore CFC's prehistoric pantheon. As David Hulin puts it, "The aim as always was to raise the bar a little. The challenge was to do this within the rigorous deadlines that commercial work imposes."
Agency BBDO New York
Chief Creative Officers David Lubars/Bill Bruce
Exec. Creative Director Eric Silver
Assoc. Creative Director Jim Le Maitre
Copywriter Jim Le Maitre
Assoc. Creative Director Jonathan Mackler
Art Director Jonathan Mackler
Exec. Producer Elise Greiche
Production Company Traktor
Exec. Producer Jim Bouvet
Director of Photography Tim Maurice-Jones
Editing House Mackenzie Cutler
Editor Gavin Cutler
Sound Design Marc Healy/Mackenzie Cutler
Sound Design Kim Christensen/Noises Digital
Animation Framestore NY
FX Supervisor/Senior Flame Artist Murray Butler
FX Supervisor/Head of CGI David Hulin
FX Producer James Razzall
Related Keywords:Eric Silver, Framestore NY,