If you tuned into Superbowl 2011, you may have seen a slew of dazzling commercials that caught your eye. Here at Motionographer, we where particularly impressed by the latest from Fx & Mat, Coke Siege. As luck would have it, we were fortunate enough to rope the directors in for an exclusive interview about the teams latest piece (full interview below).
“Our intention was to make an epic film using the codes of the fantasy world. As illustrators ourselves we love the energy we see in concept art for films, books and games and we thought this project had great potential for bringing that into motion. We wanted illustrated landscapes, integrating the characters as much as possible with their environment. Wherever possible, we wanted to use graphic tricks to create depth – using atmospheric depth and coloured haze, rather than very photographic optical depth of field.”
Artistically, what was the inspiration behind Coke Siege?
Our intention was to make an epic film using the codes of the fantasy world. As illustrators ourselves we love the energy we see in concept art for films, books and games and we thought this project had great potential for bringing that into motion. We wanted illustrated landscapes, integrating the characters as much as possible with their environment. Wherever possible, we wanted to use graphic tricks to create depth – using atmospheric depth and coloured haze, rather than very photographic optical depth of field.
How did you become involved in the project? Did the agency, Wieden + Kennedy, contact Nexus/Fx & Mat, or did Coca Cola rope you in themselves?
Wieden+Kennedy and Nexus had been discussing this project for some time as there is an ongoing relationship between the two companies.  Nexus then proposed our names to see it through to completion, so it was great to be involved!
From concept to delivery, how long was the entire production?
MAT:  Only 3 months!  Which was a very tough schedule for the ambition of the project.
FX: If you take in account the night shifts and the lack of lunch breaks due to the amount of work that was needed, it was probably closer to 5 months worth of work!
With a piece so cinematic and so large in scope, there are likely to be many artists involved. How many artists, from pre-production to post-production had a hand in Coke Siege?
A fair few!  From concept design to delivery, there were nearly 75 artists involved both at Nexus and Framestore- extremely specialized and talented artists for each specific role. This project was so huge in scale that everything needed to be planned extremely precisely, and it was partly due to the talents of the crew we had that we were able to hit the Super Bowl deadline!
Can you explain the creative efforts that went into the environment/production design of the film? And likewise, can you shine a light on how the character design process?
Our main enemy was time. We only had a few days to decide on a direction for the design, so we worked with several concept designers who we liked that despite having wide artistic backgrounds, knew the codes of the fantasy world. We worked with some really talented character designers on the project.  As it turned out, some of the characters that made it to the final cut came from Florian Caspar who was a new recruit to the studio after recently graduating.
We had to write the story at the same time as preparing the storyboard, whilst also designing the characters… All of this had to happen in a very limited period, so we assigned goals to the different artists involved and our task then was to drive everything in a common direction.
The narrative development this was a very organic process between the Agency Creatives, Nexus owner Chris O’Reilly and us.  It was great to be so heavily involved in this part of the creative process.
How did Framestore London enter the equation and for those who don’t know, please explain their role.
At the time the project came to fruition, we had several large jobs going through the Nexus studio so unusually we had to look at other partners to collaborate with us.  Framestore felt like a natural fit, due to their relevant expertise in both creature animation and filmic fantasy worlds.
To explain Framestore’s role – Nexus initiated storyboards and designs, but worked in a close collaborative role with Framestore who led the animation and FX throughout the project. On this project, we had A-list artists from both the film and commercial departments.
How did you find working with such a robust post-production team in Framestore London? At any point, where there any significant bumps in the road during post-production? As well, what was the biggest technical hurdle in the film?
It was pretty cool actually! On past projects, we’ve often been involved as CG operators or compositors depending on the work involved, but we realised on a job of this scale it was important for us to focus more on the directorial overview – overseeing a group of artists, rather than getting heavily involved in the nitty-gritty of the work.
In term of technical challenges, well, we were supposed to make an epic film, so we took all the epic decisions: crowd, fur, ice, fire, smoke, painted landscapes, fireworks …In other words, every step of the film was a challenge in itself! So it involved a lot of R&D to make things feel illustrated rather than hyper-real, for example the fire FX.  But everyone on the team at Framestore rose to the challenge.
How did Framestore London enter the equation and for those who don’t know, please explain their role.
At the time the project came to fruition, we had several large jobs going through the Nexus studio so unusually we had to look at other partners to collaborate with us.  Framestore felt like a natural fit, due to their relevant expertise in both creature animation and filmic fantasy worlds.
To explain Framestore’s role – Nexus initiated storyboards and designs, but worked in a close collaborative role with Framestore who led the animation and FX throughout the project. On this project, we had A-list artists from both the film and commercial departments.
How did you find working with such a robust post-production team in Framestore London? At any point, where there any significant bumps in the road during post-production? As well, what was the biggest technical hurdle in the film?
It was pretty cool actually! On past projects, we’ve often been involved as CG operators or compositors depending on the work involved, but we realised on a job of this scale it was important for us to focus more on the directorial overview – overseeing a group of artists, rather than getting heavily involved in the nitty-gritty of the work.
In term of technical challenges, well, we were supposed to make an epic film, so we took all the epic decisions: crowd, fur, ice, fire, smoke, painted landscapes, fireworks …In other words, every step of the film was a challenge in itself! So it involved a lot of R&D to make things feel illustrated rather than hyper-real, for example the fire FX.  But everyone on the team at Framestore rose to the challenge.
Lastly, now that the both of you had such a big US showing with Coke Siege, have you become a fan of American football?
Mat: I still don’t get the rules, but those dudes are real modern warriors, with armour and stuff (they just need axes and swords)! I wouldn’t last more than 3 seconds on the field…
Fx: I enjoyed it, but had my doubts about Fergie at the half time break…
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This article was originally published on Motionographer.com
Written by
Brandon Lori​​​​​​​
Credits
Client: FedEx
Agency: BBDO, New York
Chief Creative Officer: David Lubars
Executive Creative Directors: Greg Hahn, Mike Smith
Executive Producers: Amy Wertheimer, Diane Hill
Sr. Creative Director/Art Director: Nick Klinkert
Sr. Creative Director/Copywriter: Tom Kraemer
Creative Director/Copywriter: Chris Beresford-Hill
Executive Music Producer: Rani Vaz
Production Company: Psyop/Smuggler
Director: Psyop
Psyop Creative Directors: Marie Hyon, Marco Spier
Psyop Executive Producer: Lucia Grillo
Psyop Line Producer: Donald Taylor
Psyop Senior Producer: Crystal Campbell
Smuggler Executive Producer/Partner Patrick Milling Smith
Smuggler Executive Producer/Partner Brian Carmody
Smuggler Executive Producer/COO: Lisa Rich
Smuggler Executive Producers: Allison Kunzman, Laura Thoel
Smuggler Live Action Producer: Donald Taylor
Designers: Lauren Indovina, Jon Saunders and Naomi Chen
Editor: Cass Vanini
Director of Photography: Fredrick Elmes
Storyboard Artist: Ben Chan
Lead Technical Director: Alvin Bae
Lead Compositor: Nick Tanner
Lighting Pipeline Technical Director/Still Photographer: Jonah Friedman
Modeling: Helen Choi, Soo Hee Han, Dave Chen
Rigging: Zed Bennett, Amy Hay
Previz: Pat Porter, Kitty Lin, Chris Meek, Minor Gayton
Animation: Pat Porter, Amy Hay, Roman Kobryn, MinSeok Jeon and Stephanie Russell, Michael Shin
VFX Supervisor: Joerg Liebold
VFX: Dave Barosin, Miguel Salek
Lighting Team: Alvin Bae, Helen Choi, Soo Hee Han, Chris Wilson
Hair: Jonah Friedman, Andy Hara
Lead Tracking: Joerg Liebold
Tracking: Mark Lipsmeyer
Matte Painting: Denis Kozyrev
Lead Compositor: Nick Tanner
Compositors: Jason Conradt, Adam Flynn, Thomas Panayiotou and Jonathan Podwill
Flame: Nick Tanner
Roto: Trace
Footage Transfer: Katabatic
Music House: Human
Audio Mix: Sound Lounge
Mixer: Tom Jucarone

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