This was the last job Ark completed and, while calling it our swan-song would do all our previous work a disservice, we did achieve what was considered by many involved to be impossible. Adidas came to us 14 weeks before the world cup and asked us to produce 12 online, fully animated graphic novels. Each novel would tell a story of the player as a super hero, be between 2 and 4 pages in length with upto 9 panels per page. Each animated panel we did was to be rendered at HD resolution and would range from animated matte paintings to CG sets and green screen footballers. The footballers in question included Gerrard, Messi, Zidane, Ballack, Park, Nakamura and 6 others. For 6 or seven of us in what was in the end 12 weeks this was a tall order but we were confident we could achieve it. To save time we farmed out all the green screen work and we were supplied with Nuke scripts for mattes. We had two renowned comic artists produce the story boards and comic layouts. Two of us started on camera matching the shots we could get and the rest of us R+D’d the pipeline.

Four weeks in, only two players completed and it changed. It became twelve international HD adverts, in 3 weeks and afterwards we were to continue with the graphic novels to the original deadline. This was a major challenge and to all intents and purposes was impossible as the supply of mattes was already behind schedule and nobody could promise us HD raw footage in time as the schedules had suddenly been brought forward 5 weeks. But we and the other companies involved pulled it off. The adverts went out on time, and the graphic novels, now minus their stories and graphic novel format, were completed.

With Gerrard I was responsible for everything except the blue screen mattes and the camera matching. Lighting, textures, rendering, optical effects, compositing and grading.

For Nakamura I was responsible for scene setup, texturing, lighting, rendering, compositing and grading. However he was not finished as the agency changed their mind. Due to the deadline we couldn’t afford to rework him so he was sent to a 3rd party hence the lack of optical effects and the unfinished crow effect seen in the video.

This is the nuke comp for the treadmill shot above. I created the CG astro turf, set up the scene, lighting, rendering, optical effects and compositing.

The video in the gallery only contains a sampling of all the shots I worked on.
And Vimeo don’t allow you direct access to HD Video in the gallery so you may well find this embedded one of more use. You can scale it to fit the screen.

I’ll put this video of Pienaar here as its hard to tell what I did and what was done by Rich Wright. Pienaar was done as part of our initial R+D and as such went through lots of changes and was frequently reworked as we discovered new ways of doing things or the client decided on a style change. For the initial set-up, texturing, rendering and all the comps Rich did the first six and I did the rest. After that we both got moved onto the next set of players but kept going back to Pienaar. Eventually all the final grading and a lot of the green screen matte work was down to Rich. The treadmill shots were entirely down to me other than the final colour grade to match everything else.