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Renault Drivies: The Family Pet

DRIVIES is a delightful new spot for the Renault Scenic in which a car is the family pet, featuring vfx and other post touches supervised by William Bartlett, Framestore CFC's head of Inferno and assisted by Darran Nicholson. The spot was directed by Daniel Kleinman for Large, with art direction by Alex Taylor, and was written by Adam Kean at Publicis.

DRIVIES first shows us a family at rest, the parents on the living-room couch, the kids playing together. There is a honking noise from outside, and the mother and father exchange knowing glances it's the family car again, desperate to come out and play. The father goes out to the front of the house, and as soon as he raises the garage door the car starts puppyishly nosing its way out.

With the door fully open, the Renault rushes out. It runs in a tight little circle, like a dog chasing its tail with excitement. It stops, sees a neighbors cat and charges after it, haring out of the driveway. There is the sound of an off-screen kerfuffle, and the father winces. The car returns to the driveway and the father bends forward and beckons, as one would to a dog. The Scenic charges toward him, swerving round him at the last minute and doing handbrake turn. As father approaches the car it backs off, the window going up and down and making a noise like a dog pleading; the sound effects throughout DRIVIES are a clever blend of dog- and car-type noises. The family comes out and their car greets them with a fiercely wagging tail, represented by an oscillating rear windscreen wiper.

Bartlett, who supervised the three-day shoot in Cape Town, used a canny mixture of practical and digital effects to turn the car into a winsome pet in just four days of post-production.

An assortment of rigs were used in combination with the stunt driving, including a car with an extra wheel under it which enabled it to perform the impossibly tight turning circle as it chases its tail. In addition, two rigs were used to create the illusion that no driver was operating the vehicle. One involved the use of a camera fixed to the front of the car, giving information to a driver bent over inside. The second rig involved the complete removal of the driving seat, replacing it with a driver dressed in a 'seat-suit', making him look (from a distance, anyway) like part of the car.

All of the above practical steps were complemented by Bartlett's post-production Inferno artistry. The Renault's tight turning circle was sped up and digital leaves were added being whipped up by the nippy little car. In shots involving the cameraman in his seat-suit, separate seats were filmed on turntables to replace him on the closer shots. As Bartlett explains, "This is tricky because the seat is behind windscreens and windows which reflect their environment, so the whole thing has to be stripped down and rebuilt layer by layer."

Unsurprisingly, Health and Safety regulations preclude actually running a car full tilt at a real person, so that sequence had to be shot using several passes, which were then blended by Bartlett in the Inferno. A final digital touch was the speeding up of the rear windscreen wipers.

While shot in the sunshine of a South African summer, Kleinman thought that an autumnal feel would best accent the silver Scenic's look. To this end, he had a bleach bypass made of selected rushes, and the right look was beautifully achieved in telecine by Framestore CFC's sr. colorist, Dave Ludlam.

London-based Framestore CFC (www.framestore-cfc.com) was formed in December 2001 through the union of two of the most creative and dynamic companies in the industry: FrameStore and The Computer Film Company (CFC). The company now boasts the largest visual effects and computer animation company in Europe, with more than 30 years of combined experience in digital film and video technology.