Working with creative agency Aesop and Director Matthias Hoene, the Rushes CG Commercials team have brought to life the history of The Glenlivet in this two and a half minute fully CGI film.

One of the central briefs of the film was that the narrative and pace should smoothly flow from scene to scene reflecting the history of the brand and whisky itself.  Across the two and a half minute film this therefore meant that each scene should link seamlessly with the next, creating one continuous shot where the camera constantly moved forwards bringing the viewer from the distant past to present day.  This created the biggest logistical challenge for the animation team so a large amount of time was spent at the  start of the project working out storyboards, script, the geography of the CG world, the timing and pace of the camera moves and locking down the edit as much as possible at the animatic stage.   From there it was possible to break the film into more manageable scenes which were then allocated to the 3 animators responsible for bringing the film to life.   Each animator created a huge library of CG props and assets to be used throughout the film from a wealth of historical documents, photographs and even actual distilling equipment supplied to them by Aesop.  At one stage the commercials department looked more like a distillery than a post production facility!  Such attention to detail however was key to telling the story as vividly and authentically as possible.   

With regard to authenticity one of the biggest challenges came in recreating the whisky itself in CG as this was clearly at the heart of the film and was always going to be the one thing subject to more scrutiny that anything else.  Texturing and lighting TD Liam Hoflay helped to develop shaders for the whisky and glass bottle using Pixar’s RenderMan software, these were then rendered in a variety of separate passes such as reflections, refractions and sub-surface scattering.  Lead Animator Andy Hargreaves composited these layers in Nuke and further enhanced the depth, richness and grade as well as layering in additional highlights and translucency to give the whisky its almost glowing vibrancy.  Mattes were also rendered to allow a final grade in TK to make sure the exact colours and saturation of each age of whisky could be matched perfectly.   The animation of the whisky fell to RealFlow artist Alan Williamson who shot a variety of reference plates of the 18 year old Glenlivet pouring into the a glass really studying the various properties of its viscosity, flow and surface tension to accurately recreate its movement in the software  – all the while resisting the urge to sample a wee dram!

The final film was entirely edited and composited in Nuke where much of the atmospheric, lighting and lens effects were added to give the film as naturalistic and cinematic a feel as possible as well as enriching the mood of the story.   It’s testament to the clear vision of Director Matthias, the smooth, enjoyable collaboration with Aesop and the skills of the CG Commercials team that such a complex and highly polished film was turned around with so few artists in a relatively short time frame.

Agency: Aesop/Partizan
Rushes Producer: Carl Grinter
Maya: Andy Hargreaves, Chris Hutchison, David Loh, Alan Williamson, Liam Hoflay
Nuke: Andy Hargreaves, David Loh, Chris Hutchison, David Loh
After Effects: Matt Lawrence, Brad Le-Riche

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