WCRS’ 2008 campaign for Abbey features F1 ace Lewis Hamilton as an Airfix model. Golden Square Post was brought on board to help convey the idea that Hamilton could be realistically built from model parts through convincing but technically demanding 2D visual effects.
The spot starts with a close-up of an Airfix model kit-box for a McLaren F1 car. We are taken on a journey of the car being meticulously assembled by hand, along with its driver, Lewis Hamilton. It climaxes with Hamilton coming to life and driving his real full-sized McLaren car into the Abbey red cube.
Using the line 'Great things happen when all the right pieces come together', the spot draws parallels between the care Abbey and Santander have taken in building their range of bank accounts for customers, as well as the strength Abbey and Santander gain from working together.
The majority of model parts were built by Asylum model makers who took 3D scans of Hamilton’s face and body to accurately rebuild him in miniature. Golden Square applied greenscreen footage to these model elements, borrowing textures and mapping them onto the real Hamilton to increase detail and create a hyper-real looking model.
The most complex shot involved the model maker’s hand lowering Hamilton’s miniature head onto his body, at which point his face comes alive and, once connected, one hand corrects the position of the other. Greenscreen footage of Hamilton was tracked onto the miniature replica and textured to look like a model.
In the end, the majority of the shot comes from live action but the model elements were essential for providing otherwise unobtainable detail like the inside of his neck and collar. The rotating hand effect was achieved using an additional arm, which had to match in by warping the shoulder to sit the extra arm in with Lewis’ real one.
Another significant challenge came from matching footage of the real car and body elements to their miniature counterparts. All model elements were filmed using a macro lens so when this footage had to be combined with shots of Hamilton’s life-sized car and body, depth of field was altered in Flame to account for the different types of lenses.
Flame was also used to stabilise shots of the model maker’s shaky hand. Lastly, some shots of the car were rebuilt in 3D in order to achieve the required moves.