|With Sonny London Productions Director Emil Moller, Absolute transformed this spot’s character into Lipton tea's three main ingredients - water, tea leaves and sunshine. "It was such an interesting challenge that we couldn't turn it down," said Absolute EP Andrew Swepson. "We helped develop the treatment, and once the agency DDB accepted our pitch, we remained engaged from R&D to final cut."
‘You Are What You Tea’ follows a lovely girl in a sweltering city. As she sips a Lipton iced tea, her skin transforms into a translucent mix of water, sunlight and green tea leaves. She hops on a passing scooter for a ride out of the urban congestion and onto a road winding alongside the shimmering sea.
The process of making her transformation realistic began with a month-long R&D process, after which Absolute spent two and a half months working in several Flame suites supported by Combustion, and using Maya, RealFlow and Nuke to produce CG material. To create the actress' alternate body, they modelled her in 3D and created simulated RealFlow animated water to sway through her. Once the team received the graded rushes, they animated the 3D model to match all of her movements, then painted the actress out of all of the VFX shots and composited the animated character in her place. Finally, they composited in further elements of water and leaves, finishing each shot with 2D effects to create the sunlight elements.
To achieve the look of the light they wanted, they carried out some initial 2D research and decided to run some tests, ‘in-camera’. “We took a vase filled with water and leaves, held it up to the sunlight and observed the way it interacted with the natural light. We found that we got beautiful kicks of light off of the edges of the vase in the sunlight and interesting shadows from the leaves,” said Lead Flame Artist Phil Oldham.
“With these observations in mind, we generated a 3D model of our lead actress and treated it as a vessel containing water so that it would refract light just as our vase of water did. Once we had our model in place, we added our animated tealeaves and match moved our model frame by frame to mimic the actress’ movements. This allowed us to create a strong visual language while still retaining an elegant and very human performance.
“The next stage was to develop the artificial sunlight effects. These were 2D effects generated in Flame and then augmented by adding shadow passes for the leaves and developing caustic light spills.
“These caustic effects are similar to that you would see on the bottom of a swimming pool on a sunny day or reflected onto a table through a glass of water. The development of this look was an integral part of the overall effect as the viewer automatically reads it as light shining through water, allowing us to communicate our message very effectively. You can see this particular effect most clearly in the tunnel shots and if you look closely you will also notice the light spilling onto the scooter riders back.
“By combining our 2D sunlight effects, the refraction of light within the 3D model and the pools of caustic reflections we were able to create an effect that not only conveys the Lipton Iced Tea brand, but is also visually stunning.”
"Our challenge was to develop a look for our character that clearly reads as water, tea leaves and sunshine, but retains the actress' emotion and humanity," said Phil. "We solved the problem by introducing the live-action performance back into the CG model in key performance shots. By combining this with precise match-moving by the CG team, led by Jamie White and Richard Nelson, we developed an interesting look that conveys the original performance." www.absolutepost.com
Post/Effects Co: Absolute Post UK
Lead Flame Artist: Phil Oldham
CG: Jamie White, Richard Nelson
Prod Co: Sonny London Productions
Director: Emil Moller
Editorial Co: Peepshow
Editor: Amanda Perry
Telecine Co: Company 3
Shoot Location: South Africa