This year’s Lunar New Year campaign for Glenfiddich required working with Love Creative to breathe life into photo-realistic scenes of nature, taking the style in a very different direction to the previous campaigns and presenting a fun and unique challenge for Blue Zoo Short Form.
Based upon a stunning sculpture of the iconic stag, created using natural materials by artist Raku Inoue, the film needed to feel as alive and fresh as the flowers and greenery used.
“The idea was to try and start in nature, as it blossoms, then over just a handful of shots, transform and juxtapose nature, leading us to the final reveal of the stag, which is assembled from elements that came before it.
I was very keen to push the team out of their comfort zone for this project. We started researching and experimenting early on with photorealism and how we could approach the various shots, making sure to lean into our strengths and have the camera choices and action service the idea as well as possible.
The artists absolutely rose to the challenge of this project and delivered something we’re really proud of. The detail and care over each shot really demonstrates what can be achieved you’re excited about what you’re making." - Dane Winn, Director
The project was created using Blender, Zbrush and Substance Painter. We began by thumbnailing, then quickly moving into 3D previz to start figuring out the shots, the timing and the geography of each shot. This helped tremendously with communication to the client and agency and allowed us to more effectively hone in on what we needed to make.
Those shots were then broken up into individual assets, both hero and supporting where we used a combination of Zbrush, Substance and Blender to model and texture them, as well as adding groom using geometry nodes in Blender for micro-detail on various plants. This extra layer of detail really helped bridge the gap into photorealism.
To animate the various plants, we created rigs using armatures, shape keys and modifiers, all in Blender, to manipulate the models in an organic way. We also used geometry nodes to help scatter certain elements like dust, water droplets and leaves so give us more organic dressing but also to be able to animate those elements efficiently using nodes.
The shaders and lighting had to work very closely to achieve the look we wanted in each shot, often contriving more lights and cheating materials to push the look slightly more stylistically. We tried to replicate certain lens artifacts and how the bokeh and lens distortion would affect the frame, considering those elements as well as the depth of field when creating the set dressing, to make sure the abstract shapes surrounding the hero assets would be appealing and efficient.