Entangled in African animation

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Johannesburg-based Spaghetti Media recently completed a commercial for Tanzanian Breweries (a subsidiary of SAB Miller) to advertise Kilimanjaro Premium Lager Brand.

According to Pieter de Wet from Spaghetti Media the project involved all aspects of their business and workflow. “Along with working with the client in Tanzania via the web, this made a very technical project possible,’ explains De Wet.

“Integrating RealFlow and Softimage was a challenge in terms of creating a realistic water splash animation. As far as the two programmes go, Softimage actually handled a huge polygon count. This made the renders more manageable in terms of getting the simulation into an “animatable’ environment,’ notes De Wet.

They also created a working animatic of the agency’s storyboard in 3D as a pre-visualisation to plan an extremely technical shoot.

“This allowed us to time each shot, design the framing, plan the transitions and plan the integration of 3D and live action. This gave our client confidence in the process, taking them on the progression of the production from start to finish. The director and cinematographer were involved in the pre-production – so the pre-visualisation also helped to make lens choices and lighting more productive and predictable,’ explains De Wet.

He says the project developed out of a treatment for a pitch for The Works in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

“We needed to do the packshot in 3D, because the branding was already designed, and we had to control it to achieve a similar look. It was also a challenge to execute it in 3D as opposed to doing a Phantom studio shoot,’ he says.

According to De Wet they shot on DSLR with minimal grips and lights. “We purchased a Kessler Crane Shuttle Pod system – a motorised mini-track device – to control consistent tracking across various shots and environments. Softimage, Boujou, PF-track, RealFlow and After Effects were used for CG and post-production. On set we used Final Cut Pro for the timing of shots.’

Among the challenges was to animate an aerial shot of an imagined soccer stadium in Rio de Janeiro. “This was a massive set in 3D, which was quite a process to build, light and render,’ says De Wet.

The 3D was created primarily by Ryan Crocker and Justin Wingate.

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