Sky Sports looked to Framestore and gotgotneed to create something special for ‘Breadth of Sport’, a new TV campaign showcasing the broadcaster’s scope of matches, games and races, alongside their raft of esteemed commentators and presenters. Rich and vibrant ink simulations tie the sports together into a seamless world of activity, readying audiences for another dazzling season of sporting spectacle.
Framestore’s artists were supplied with selected clips of VT footage, and set to work camera-tracking and rotoscoping out the key starring elements. The spot’s Directors, gotgotneed's Adam and Will, created an animatic from which the whole film was previsualised, allowing the team to plot the camera moves needed for the shoot with Sky’s pundits, who would provide the ad’s linking lines and narrative.
The prime technical challenge lay in linking the multiple pieces of footage, all of which came with inherently different camera angles, heights and lens focal lengths; indeed one key shot, of Leicester City footballer Jamie Vardy, had seen the cameraman run a stretch of pitch whilst zooming in on the player. Framestore was able to convincingly combine the shots, despite the absence of camera control; said Chris Redding, VFX Supervisor, of the task, ‘This took a great deal of careful work between our 2D and 3D teams, in order to make sure that any changes were not detrimental to other elements in the scene. The efforts certainly paid off, resulting in one cohesive “world” on screen’.
The CG team added flair to the spot’s carefully-plotted foundations, generating hypnotic trails and blooms of ink simulations drawing on the bright colours of the selected VT footage. With tight time constraints in play, Framestore’s artists worked hard to finesse the intensity and movements of the trails, drawing on lessons learnt from 2015’s Spectre, amongst others, to ensure the ink would fuel the narrative whilst also looking beautiful on screen. ‘We used Houdini for the fluid ink simulations and the lighting and rendering’, said CG artist Charlie Bayliss. ‘The body tracks and cameras were initially set in Maya but cameras were finalised in Nuke to allow flexibility of the 2D compositing of such intricate shot combinations’.
The colours also needed to mix artfully within the fluid simulation. ‘Naturally this can sometimes lead to less-than-pleasant colour mixes’, said Martin Aufinger, CG Supervisor. ‘We addressed this challenge by developing our own so-called Microsolver network, that gave us greater control over how the fluid solver deals with different hues’.
Compositors made the final painstaking stitches between the original VT footages and inky clouds, whilst simultaneously working to maintain the Sky white backgrounds which would allow the sport to take front and centre stage. Camera moves were smoothed and blended, shadows created and reflections added, to create a believable melée of sporting action, neatly encapsulated in a single Sky Sports world.
‘This job was a joy to work on’, summarised Martin. ‘We established a great relationship with Adam and Will from gotgotneed and with the Sky team themselves. Adam and Will showed a lot of respect for the work that we had to do, and were incredibly supportive and patient. Their experience in directing VFX-heavy commercials really showed in the attention to detail that they gave to every aspect of the spot’.