Concrete recently completed full offline and online post work on a new Samsung viral titled Samsung Lions for The Viral Factory. The viral was directed and produced by The Viral Factory. They approached Concrete for initial pre-production advice to create the viral for Samsung.
The brief was to create a film that appeared to be a snippet of a holiday safari video that had accidentally caught an extraordinary moment. That moment was a pride of lions breaking from their standard 'lazing in the sun' pose and performing a rendition of Harry Belafonte's The Banana Song (best known by its "Daylight come and me wanna go home" refrain).
The brief called for the lions to accurately mime the words to the song, whilst rocking and dancing to the beat. As an additional twist, a half-eaten gazelle carcass was to then jump up on its hind legs in mid-performance, to add a rap solo.
Ed Robinson, Creative Director at The Viral Factory commented: "The ATL work uses the concept of 'telling the whole story' behind an intriguing still because sometimes that story is more exciting than you might expect. We needed to "viralise" that thought and hit upon singing lions!"
From a production point of view, the core requirement was that the footage must appear as an amateur holiday video shot from the back of a safari vehicle and that the lions look real beyond question.
"For post production, this meant the complication of very shaky, hand held camera work and photo-realistic lions," explains David Cox, senior VFX artist and joint MD at Concrete. "The feeling was that CGI lions would neither be convincing enough nor feasible within the three week post-production schedule. Another discounted avenue was to shoot a lion or two against green screen in the UK. Surprisingly, trained "acting" lions seemed hard to come by in London."
The production route chosen was to dispatch cameraman, Dewald Aukema to Kenya to see if he could film lions in their natural habitat. He would photograph lions with the camera locked off in high definition, with the framing set to be the widest required. This allowed the shaky camera work to be added in post-production. It also meant that real lions would be used in their natural habitat, helping with the credibility factor.
The plan at Concrete was to then cut, paste and morph bits of real lion to create the required performing ones. Dewald was fortunate enough to return with a base set of lions lounging around, occasionally getting up, rolling over, yawning and generally doing what lions do. It was decided that the rapping, half eaten gazelle would be a model-build, shot against green screen and brought to life by two puppeteers in green suits.