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Framestore CFC complete CG ant spots for the Post Office

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Framestore CFC has supervised, animated and composited a series of spots for the Post Office, featuring a CG 3D ant.
'Ant in Australia' and 'Ice Cream Van', the first two spots, began running concurrently from December 27 2003 and January 12004 respectively.
Created by Publicis, and directed by Simon and Jon for Love, the spots feature the ant, ‘Mark’, taking advantage of all the Post Office has to offer.
With the tagline 'For the little things that make the big things happen', the 30 spots are a humorous presentation of the Post Office's services.
Supervising the shoot for Framestore CFC was Inferno Artist Murray Butler, who was accompanied by CG Lead David Hulin.
Hulin said: "The ant is a creature with an exoskeleton, and this gives its surface a rigidity that makes it easier to animate than some of our creatures - the dinosaurs we've made, for instance. Nevertheless, the ants are wearing clothes and so forth, and fabric always presents its own challenges to CG animators."
In fact, the Framestore CFC artists (using Maya software's cloth simulator, as well as proprietary plug-ins) went down to the level of the stitching in the hems of the T shirt worn by Mark - a detail so fine it may well be missed by most viewers.
The supervisors approached the lighting of the scenes with some techniques borrowed from the movies. At the suggestion of Simon Stoney, Senior Technical Director, the team used an image based lighting system, a technique designed to give a truer, more realistic lighting effect to animated creatures placed in real-world environments.
"We took a camera of our own with us," said Butler, "And, using a fish-eye lens, we took 180° panorama shots, gathering the entire environment. From that we could create a spherical world which shows exactly where the light is originating and bouncing from."
The material for three spots (the third will be aired later in 2004) was filmed over six days in Cape Town, South Africa.
Framestore CFC's animation department are already looking forward to their next challenge with great ant-icipation.
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