Bollywood Hungama
Last Updated 12.12.2018 | 12:58 PM IST
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How Tata Elxsi’ VCL animated Woodland shoes

Tata Elxsi’s Visual Computing Labs one of India’s leading animation and visual effects studios, has churned out a television commercial for Woodland shoes. The TVC is 3D animated that is 15 seconds long which contains about 7-8 shots. The idea of the commercial is to have a story that communicates about the toughness of the brand. The commercial with a comical twist at the end revolves around a baby elephant playing with a shoe which endures getting trampled on by a herd of elephants.

The team of fifteen managed to pull this off, headed by animation extraordinaire, Suhail Merchant and Shrirang Sathye animation directors of the ad. Bollywood Hungama Gives you a breakdown of the animation production pipeline that the team at VCL used.

The script and screenplay

The ideation of a concept or a story which is recorded on paper is a script. This is by far the most crucial stage in filmmaking, a script or a screenplay can determine a films success or failure. Besides getting a brief from the agency, Suhail and Shrirang have developed the script for this commercial which was approved by the client. “The challenge was to work up a story in that given 15 seconds” says Suhail merchant “the script was a very basic, there is a shoe lying on forest field and these elephants would trample over the shoe. We decided to add a baby elephant, because a child angle always works well.” Shrirang says, “The execution was left to us alone, with the idea of having a story with this we conceived the character of the baby elephant around the shoe.

Modeling and texturing

In simple terms, 3D modeling is the process of forming and shaping the characters or objects. For the modeling process of the ad Shrirang explains “the elephants had to be as realistic as possible so no cartoon characters were designed. Ageing is more visible and prominent on the skin, so the look and feel of old and young elephants are different. We found references of wild elephants of various age groups on the internet which helped us in modeling the characters.” Adds Suhail, “The textures and the colors of the skin play an important part as well.”

Layout and Background

In animation, the stage and composition space where the characters performance takes place is known as the layout or the background of a scene. Shrirang said, “Through our research, elephants wander in dense forest and open fields as well. The opening shot of the commercial has the grassland as the layout where the elephants are walking through.” Suhail points out, that they didn’t want to clutter the framing with too much foliage, which could distract the viewer’s attention. He adds, “We made it sparse with shrubs and some stones so the shoe is clearly established.” Shrirang notes that the real challenge was framing the elephants and the shoe’s together as they were of different shapes and sizes. Regarding the camera composition Suhail said “we kept the camera lenses very wide, so we get a bigger establishing picture, which directly gives the feeling of being in the wild.

Rigging

Rigging in animation terms refers to adding “strings to a puppet” or adding bones to make an object or puppet move, for rigging the elephants Suhail said, “We did a walk cycle of the elephants, then we studied the softness of the pads under the foot, and especially their joints. We did a lot of back and forth research on that.” Shrirang points out “A detailed rig of the foot was required to make the sponginess of the elephant feet look real.”

Animation

This is the process where-in animators bring the digital puppets to life, most of the animation process involved in this ad was executed with help from references, Suhail said “the brief was to make it look real, so there was no character animation involved where we could use our heads to give it some personality. We looked at live action references and made it as real as possible”, adds Shrirang “It’s the bits and pieces of the references, compiled that gave us a clearer picture of the elephants motion.

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