Recent Oscar-nominated animation directors Smith and Foulkes's latest project is a playful ad for Coke, which debuted in the US TV coverage of last night's Super Bowl. Watch it here.
The ad takes the well-established idea of the unifying power of Coke but gives it a modern twist. By satirising the fact that in an age of ubiquitous devices, with us so immersed in our digital lives, we sometimes miss the opportunity to connect with people in the real world. The film is a vivid portrayal of just that, as they transform people on an everyday street into their avatar or digital selves. Coke becomes the catalyst for a shared moment.
Smith & Foulkes of Nexus, fresh from completing their short film This Way Up, which has just been nominated for an Oscar, were approached to direct the film by agency Wieden + Kennedy.
The directors have used a mixture of live action and animation to achieve the split-second transitions from human to racing car driver, zombie or spaceman – even a mythical centaur. Shot in Buenos Aires with DP Mattias Montero, all 3D character design, modeling and animation was done in the Nexus studio in London. Compositing was done with the Framestore London to great effect.
Smith and Foulkes said that "the challenge for us was to film the live action in a documentary style, incidentally observing moments of human behaviour, and then animating the Avatars into the footage in a very naturalistic way. It wasn't about crazy 3D characters running amok, more about the everyday human behaviour of idly sitting around in parks and coffee shops.
"We initially shot the footage on very long lenses to give the sense of the observational camera, before starting the huge technical challenge of believably replacing humans with Avatars in each shot. Obviously there was a lot of fun to be had in casting each Avatar for each human, showing how people might select their online identity. Some would be a complete fantasy, while others a slightly more exciting version of their real selves. The music track also gave the film a useful emotional counterpoint to illustrate somebody alone in the crowd."
The soundtrack Stranger in the Crowd is performed by recording artist, Cee-Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley is to be released on iTunes to coincide with the launch of the film.