British Gas – Jake in the Bath

The second commercial in the British Gas campaign features Jake in the bath receiving a phone call from his Mum. She is in the Antarctic checking in to see that her sons new found fame isn’t corrupting him, when he tells her about the new deal from British Gas.
As before the copy writing and storyboard stage was finalised first with the agency creatives, before work began on creating the new character design that was needed for Jake’s Mum and the other penguins that feature in the commercial. The shoot for this one was a much more contained set which was dressed beautifully, as a film star like Jake would expect. There are some nice details in the production design, including a penguin shaped Oscar, Jake’s personalised towels, and the blue fish bath toys who pop up to make an appearance. As well as requiring multiple passes of each shot that contained foreground elements, we used a motion control camera rig so that every pass would line up correctly at the compositing stage as well as ensuring the shots were really smooth camera moves. A good example of the use of motion control on this project was the shot of the bathroom, where Jake can just be seen behind the glass splash back and plant. With this shot we needed 5 separate passes that all matched exactly, a clean bathroom with no bath, a clean bathroom with bath, a steam pass, a glass splash back pass, and the plant by itself against bluescreen. Once the shoot had wrapped, the 35mm rushes were transferred and graded by a C-Reality telecine suite, before the edit was made and the shots supplied for the 3d computer generated animation stage. The live action set shots were tracked in Maya live and boujou, and that tracking data was used by Maya to place the penguin model and animation into the scene where Jake’s facial expressions, flipper movements and beak action could be tweaked and adjusted to match the voiceover that had been recorded and edited previously. The Antarctica scenes with Jake’s Mum were made entirely in Maya, aside from some photographic reference and texture material for the backgrounds. The animation, texturing, lighting and rendering stage took several weeks before the whole commercial was brought to life in the Autodesk Discreet Flame compositing suite. Jake was integrated fully into the scenes with all his layers, highlight and shadow passes, mattes, separate eyes and more. Steam was added, bubbles and foam were animated in, reflections and shadows created, phone screens tracked in, foreground elements composited back over the action, subtle warping of the bath foam, phone call split screen effects, snowflakes and refracted through glass warp effects. The straplines and legal text was added and the final audio mix completed the project before final delivery and the commercial went to air.

Client: EHSRealtime / British Gas

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