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Smith & Foulkes Animate 'Fearless' BBC Olympics Promo

Nexus Studios’ directing duo move 2D animation through a 3D space to portray the obstacles faced by competing athletes.

Nexus Studios' directors Smith & Foulkes created a striking 2D animated promo for BBC's coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

LONDON -- A bold animated 2D film created at Nexus Studios' duo Smith & Foulkes, in collaboration with Y&R London, is at the center of the BBC’s “The Fearless are Here” campaign that heralds the arrival of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Via the abstract journey of a luger, skier, curler, snowboarder, ski jumper and ice skater, the film depicts the psychological and physical obstacles Winter Olympics athletes face in their quest to be the best in the world.

From the beginning, Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes’ ambition was to focus on the feeling that fear and anxiety induce in top level athletes rather than simply represent it as a physical monster. The creative focus became how to dramatize the negative emotions that must be conquered to succeed. This drove the team toward a more shapeshifting, morphing animation style.

Smith & Foulkes researched live-action filming techniques for action sports in the quest to achieve an authentic sense of movement through a 3D space, and a team of artists at Nexus Studios worked to create the entirely 2D spot which was drawn and animated in a virtual environment using emerging VR cinematography software. Working in this way and with a perceivable depth provided the ideal testing ground and enabled the team to experiment at an early stage and consider different camera angles, just as if you were shooting in live action and with the sensibility of having a handheld camera.

“There have been many memorable BBC Olympic title spots created over the years so the pressure was on from the start to bring something special to the party,” says Smith. “It’s impossible to completely rewrite the story of the Winter Olympics; there are after all only so many sports to choose from. For starters, skiers were always going to hurtle down mountains. We just tried to bring a new visual approach to portray the intense drama of winter sports.”

Source: Nexus Studios

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Tom McLean has been writing for years about animation from a secret base in Los Angeles.