"The start of the piece had to be dark and cold, while the end of the piece had to feel beautiful and positive. For the flowers, our compositing team would apply different techniques to achieve change in the colour and translucency, while maintaining the colour and identity of the flowers,” says Stinger.
And then the storm
The spot was already pulling emotional strings for the studio – and then the devastating Cyclone Nargis hit, killing almost 80,000 people (by Burmese government estimates) and severely affecting 2.4 million more.
The Burmese junta compounded the suffering of its people by refusing to allow desperately needed international aid into the country. For Shilo, the cyclone added a layer of urgency to the project.
“We felt that the message didn’t really change,” says Stinger. “More than anything, the message of support was intensified. The film production was completed before the cyclone hit so on a technical level, the piece was done.
"When the cyclone hit, we decided to alter the text at the end to bring attention to the immediate need for aid. That was much more pointed in our revision, but other than that, we didn’t alter the edit or any other elements in the piece.
"Our initial intent is to help bring about positive changes for the people of Burma – both as they relate to their ongoing human rights crisis as well as this tragic weather-related disaster – and this message remained constant.”
Stinger is happy with the spot, saying that it is truly a mixed-media piece. “We wanted the overall look to be cinematically unified but it was built out of a wide range of mediums,” he says.
“In an ideal world we would have made this a fully live-action piece but for this project that was impractical. Instead, we moved forward knowing that we still had to make the most visually impactful piece regardless of any limitations.
“Really, this turned out to be a gift of sorts as it allowed us to develop our own emotional landscapes,” he continues. “In the end, I think we ended up making something bigger than reality and something really different than we would have made had we shot it live-action.”
The spot’s original message of support for peaceful protest shifted to one of awareness-raising and a call for funds after Cyclone Nargis devastated the country. The flowers symbolize the goodwill of other peoples towards the Burmese.
The sky's the limit
“The sky was a big task,” says lead artist Dave Hill. “A large portion of it was created using matte paintings but a few of the bigger camera moves required more than just flat sky. For that, we built 3D clouds and fog elements to make these moves work. In the composite, we combined the mattes, 3D, and added mist and haze which tied the sky shots together.”
The flowers’ twisting, tumbling motion was created using a mix of hand animation (for the foreground ‘hero’ flowers), and Maya particles and After Effects Particular, with a range of boundaries applied.
For the airplane shots, Shilo’s team used 3D models of US, British and Russian warplanes that were then given the 3D treatment and comped into the shots.
As Burma first appears onscreen, the viral’s colour palette changes dramatically, from gunmetal grey to warm gold and apricot shades. The Burma shots were created using reference images found during Shilo’s research.
Project: www.noneofusarefree.org Burma Viral
Client: MTV Networks International and The Burma Arts Board
Studio: Shilo, www.shilo.tv
Software: Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk Maya, The Foundry Nuke, Trapcode Particular
On the CD: You can view the sequence on this month’s cover disc.