Fin Design+Effects transforms Tommy Lee Jones and friends into birds for new Suntory campaign

HERO.jpgFin Design+Effects have recently created some amazing CGI work on the new Suntory TVC featuring Hollywood legend Tommy Lee Jones.

Fin VFX Supervisor Stuart White explains the process: "Suntory is a client with a history of making some pretty bold creative leaps, but even for them this script was a little...unusual. Turning a party of hikers into talking birds in front of a bemused Tommy Lee Jones, who then transforms into an owl himself required more than the usual bag of visual effects tricks to pull off."

It took post house Fin Design+Effects a little over three months and thousands of lines of custom code to make these birds take flight.

The outdoor background plates and actors were filmed in Suntory's own pristine forests with additional shooting against green screen in the famous Toho Studios - home of "Godzilla" and "Seven Samurai".

To accurately follow the motion of each actor's body as they transitioned into bird form their movements were simultaneously recorded with the main film camera, a pair of Blackmagic 4k cameras and a depth-sensing Microsoft Kinect. By meticulously processing this small mountain of data, Fin's artists were able to grow feathers on top of the actors' clothes while gradually adjusting the length of their arms and legs mid- action to more bird like

Birds hold a special significance in Suntory's corporate identity due to their long history of conservation. For this reason species native to Japan were selected and great care was taken during post production to keep the renders true to the real-life reference material. To realize director Toshiyuki YAGI's very particular and humorous creative vision took many iterations of
animation. Dozens of options for timing and staging were explored beginning with previs in November 2014 and continuing through post production into 2015 before the director's very specific vision had been brought to the screen.

Comment from Producer Hidemitsu Yokoi, of Geek Pictures: "We believed that the most important thing on this project was to make the bird as real as possible. In the end, we concluded that using CGI would be a better choice than having the art department make everything. We looked at reels from VFX companies from all over the world, and ended up entrusting the project to FIN based on their previous experience creating birds. "

"Besides watching out for miscommunication caused by the language barrier, working with overseas CGI productions also requires thorough pre-shoot discussions, making sure everyone is on the same page technically for the shoot, and creating and following a schedule for the director to check postproduction progress.

In that sense, FIN's VFX Supervisor Stuart White, had a working style that was very compatible with the Japanese production method. His attention to details before shooting was remarkable, and he communicated well with crew on set. He updated us constantly after the offline, and dealt with requests from the director in such a way that we kept on moving forward.

Because of FIN's efficiency, communication with Japanese production went smoothly as well, and we are very happy with the high quality result."

Credits -
Campaign: Tennnensui no Mori - Genchi Chousa
Agency: Shingata/ONE SKY/ Dentsu Inc
Director: Toshiyuki YAGI
Production Co: Geek Pictures
VFX/CGI Sydney: Fin Design+Effects
Post Tokyo: Omnibus Japan


Tommy Lee Jones said:

…can speak Japanese!
I can't but I can see nice special effects from Fin.

Post Guy said:

Nice job, pretty complex stuff...

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