Vittel, the natural spring water brand, has released their latest campaign, featuring full CG by Mikros MPC, that strengthens its commitment towards environmental protection, whilst staying true to its tagline ‘A Water that is Full of Life’.
The team at Mikros MPC created photo-realistic CG squirrels, bees, frogs, ladybirds, butterflies, dragonflies and caterpillars in a CGI woodland. Matthieu Elkaïm, CEO and chief creative office, Ogilvy Paris, comments: “As soon as we had the idea to show the biodiversity around Vittel’s springs in action, we quickly realised that we needed to turn to our long-term partner, that we adore, Mikros MPC, to see how we could bring all of this to life!”
Speaking on the initial instructions and planning required for the campaign, Guillaume Dadaglio, CG supervisor, explains: “The instructions were to create a hidden nature spot in the Vosges Hills, early in the morning”.
Alexandre Sauthier, lead previs/setup/rigging, adds: “A spot in the Vosges Hills could be imagined a thousand different ways… starting with a previz allowed us to concentrate our total energy and all our talents where it made sense.”
The ‘previz’ proved to be crucial in enabling the Director to choose camera positions, lens focus, plan the character animation, design the setting and edit the films which make up the campaign.
Vincent Lobelle, director, says: “The real benefit of the previz compared to a live shoot at this stage, is we can approve all of our ideas and see where improvements can be made, such as changing the camera position, timing, acting… It’s a true luxury!”
A total of 34 full CG scenes were created for the films with varying camera angles and settings from macro to micro. This required a large number of assets, the starting scene alone features over 15,000 just for the trees – this was a huge artistic challenge to work on both vast expansive scales as well as close up focus. The full CG scenes required a high level of detail on the animated characters, plants and water, with refined lighting and colour to bring the mood of the morning light.
Alexandre Sauthier, lead previs/setup/rigging comments: “For the frog, we looked at the characteristics of the skeleton, for the squirrel, we looked at the position of the joints, we used this research to create the characters.”
Marine Sisnaki, CG animator, adds: “The squirrel is built upon an asset from MPC’s library of characters; we reworked the ‘rig’ and added the simulation of the muscles… Some say it’s like working a puppet: The animator is the puppet artist and I’m making the puppet and the joints, ensuring that all the limbs can move and be distorted.”
As well as the animals, the environment plays a vital role in the films, as you would expect from a Vittel campaign. Like the other elements, it had to be consistent and realistic throughout, it should also have a touch of fantasy. In particular, the water was a key element as it needed to be realistic, pure, transparent and fully integrated in the setting, David Roubah, FX artist, explains: “When creating water there are plenty of things that vary: the water behaviour, as well as the shape of it. For example, the behaviour is very specific when you look at it closeup, however we also need to ensure that the asset looks good from afar and that the behaviour remains consistent… we reached 100 million particles for the simulation of the water!”
Andre Monteiro, lead characters adds: “We also had to ensure we were being respectful to the fauna of the Vosges Hills! We took some references from the web, we looked for the information… For example, to ensure the environments looked authentic we matched the squirrel to the breed of a red squirrel that is typical of the Vosges area!”
The project was a technical challenge, a vast range of tools were used to build the assets and create the final render alongside a complex pipeline which helped to deliver the project. This enabled the team to deliver up to 300 versions per scene, which aided collaboration among the artists and allowed fast responses from the production team.
Guillaume Ho, VFX supervisor comments: “I think this project will remain on our minds for a long time as we developed it remotely through the lock-down period. Over 70% of the animation was completed by the teams whilst working remotely. Despite the distance, we all managed to maintain both communication and cohesiveness for a stellar result.”
Vincent concludes: “I am super happy with the work that has been done! And very happy with the final result, congratulations all!”
First published in Little Black Book – LBB.