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30/09/2002

The Mill release contents of BT 'burst pipe'

Visual effects facility The Mill have worked with director Garth Jennings at Hammer & Tongs and St Luke's to deliver what is believed to be one of the UK's most intensive TV advertising campaigns ever.
The 10-day high-profile ad campaign, 'Possibilities', promotes the benefits of high-speed Internet access with the help of some stunning visual effects.
A vortex explodes through a BT broadband pipeline releasing contents that include a rhino, dragon, computer game characters, space shuttle and a World War II fighter aircraft.
Initially Mill 3D worked on pre-visualising the major CG sequences, to assist the production team with the shoot. For a scene where the fighter plane flies through a market, Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith used a DV camera to film various angles of the market to capture the camera moves they needed. The 3D team at The Mill then transferred the moves into 3D and using a basic model for the plane, which flies down the unsuspecting street market. This allowed the production team to plan the scene clearly. For the fight between the gaming characters that takes place on the concourse of a train station, the 3D team pre-vised the dynamic actions of the larger than life characters. This allowed the crew to visualise the scene and to ensure that a wide enough plate was shot.
Subsequent challenges included creating the rhino and dragon. For the rhino, the team set about collecting reference material and video footage from London Zoo. The texture references were used with a combination of Deep Paint and Photoshop. For the shot where the rhino falls from the sky onto a rhino branded Suzuki jeep, the production team dropped a two and half-ton metal shaped rhino onto the vehicle. The CG rhino was later composited over the metal version in flame.
For the dragon the challenge was to create something that was a hundred stories high, that had three heads and at the same time possessed a certain element of docility. The modelling team worked on developing how the creature would walk and be animated, helping to create a character profile of the dragon.
One of the other main 3D elements was the vortex - the erupting BT Broadband stream of energy. This was generated using Real Flow, with various layers rendered out for the flame team lead by Barnsley, to get the most interaction with the live action.
The flame and 3D teams worked closely throughout the project. Before compositing in the 3D elements with the live action, Barnsley carried out extensive sky replacements to make it appear that everything was happening at the same time and place. The flame team then began the process of subtly combining the 3D passes with the live action footage, making sure that the CG elements blended perfectly.
The finished BT Broadband spots were created using Softimage/Xsi, Maya, flame, Real Flow, and tracked with both 3d Equaliser and Boujou, a combination of software used in order to achieve the best possible results.
(GB)
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