Framestore Delivers Olympic Campaign for British Airways
LONDON -- Framestore worked with BBH to deliver an integrated Olympics campaign for British Airlines, comprising an iconic TV ad, a timely viral teaser and a customisable application that creates personalised edits of the TV spot. Centering on a Boeing 777-200 being piloted through the streets of London, the campaign follows the plane on a road trip from Heathrow for the Olympic stadium, taking in the best of London’s sites on its way.
An unbranded teaser, paying homage to the recent "Fenton the Dog" YouTube sensation, marked the start of the campaign. Directed, produced and post-produced entirely by Framestore, the viral sees a terrier called Cookie playing in Richmond Park. But the canine is swiftly distracted by the irresistible urge to chase a BA plane, which was composited into the park footage by Framestore’s digital team. The dog’s helpless owner is left stranded, crying “Cookie” with increasing panic.
The campaign launched in full with an app, for both BA's site and Facebook, that creates a personalised version of the TV ad. By asking viewers to enter their postcode or address, this personalised version includes three extra shots in which the BA plane drives through the viewer’s street. Framestore's digital team created this real-time customisation by making dynamic calls to Google’s Street View API.
The TV production, directed by Partizan’s Michael Geoghegan, initially only required up to eight CG plane shots. But the final edit necessitated many more CG shots, thanks to the gloomy British weather. The production team had access to a Boeing 777-200 at BA’s engineering depot, but sunlight over these shoot days was so poor that much of the footage needed to be replaced by CG.
Following an equally gloomy location shoot, most shots were re-lit, and their skies replaced, to create the sense of dawn turning into early morning as the plane departs Heathrow for the two-hour drive across London to the Olympic Stadium. Although applying lighting to hard-surface CG objects is usually a straight-forward process, on this occasion, because of the dull weather, the team had to make educated guesses about lighting information. The challenge was intensified by the fact that these extra shots required detail that had not initially been accounted for, such as intricate landing gear – minutiae that requires a lot of time to recreate in CG.
Framestore’s task began by developing a pre-vis with the director based on location recce photos and scale data from Google Maps. This was followed by a three-day shoot at Hatton Cross with a Boeing 777-200 supplied so that the crew could shoot plane exteriors and interiors. Framestore’s pre-vis allowed the director to accurately line-up the Hatton Cross plane and translate corresponding lens, title and height data into the location plates, which were filmed a few days later. This approach ensured seamless compositing of the location and aircraft plates. The location shoot was followed by further shoots of Heathrow and the Olympic site so that Framestore’s two VFX supervisors – Russell Dodgson and Rob Kolbiens capture HDRI images to help place location reflections and lighting onto the CG aeroplanes.