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26/09/2008

Concrete Lionises Samsung

A London-based post company, Concrete recently completed full offline and online post work on a new Samsung viral 'Samsung Lions' for The Viral Factory.
Viral 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 'The Banana Song' ('Daylight come and me wanna go home').
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," he said.
David Cox, Senior VFX Artist and Joint Managing Director at Concrete said: "The feeling was that CGI lions would neither be convincing enough nor feasible within the three week postproduction 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 postproduction. 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.
Concrete's Senior Editor Matt Hall began the postproduction process.
He created an enormously complex offline extending to some 30 layers in order to 'cherry pick' the best bits of lion head/leg/body movements and loosely assemble them in time to the music.
This meant that all of the visual effect schedule could be devoted to smoothing out the composites to create a realistic effect.
Compositing on the viral was carried out in Mistika and Smoke by David Cox and Mustafa Pertev.
Each lion was treated in turn, having its base body cut out and added to a clean background.
Shadows were added for realism and Mistika's strong colour grading ability was called upon to match lions that had been shot in differing daylight. Then the head movements and lip sync were added.
This was done by finding parts of lion yawns, morphing them together and creating a mouth opening and closing. These were then animated in Mistika and stitched on to create each singing lion. Similar methods were used to create the jigging lions, using different body, tail and paw takes to create motion in time with the track.
Ed Robinson, Creative Director, The Viral Factory stated: "Clever chaps they are. We also shot a half eaten corpse of a gazelle dancing and raga toasting along with the tune in a green screen studio in London and this was effortlessly dropped in. We think it's suitably odd and strangely believable."
(BMcC)
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