Ever wonder what a superhero would look like if their powers allowed them to transform into a bottle of iced tea? Neither did we, but Absolute makes us wish we had in their latest spot for the launch of 100% Natural Lipton Iced Tea, a product of the Pepsi Lipton Partneship. In collaboration with DDB London and recurring partner Sonny London Productions Director Emil Moller (e-on, TFL, Bee TV), Absolute transforms a street-walking city girl into a living embodiment of Lipton tea's three ingredients: water, tea leaves and sunshine.
"When Sonny London sought us out for this pitch, it was such an interesting challenge that we couldn't turn it down," noted Absolute EP Andrew Swepson. "We jumped in to help develop the treatment, and then, once DDB accepted our pitch, we remained fully engaged from R&D to final cut. This, our umpteenth collaboration with Sonny London, is a perfect example of the strong relationships Absolute has cultivated over the years that ensure us a steady stream of intriguing projects."
The plot of You Are What You Tea is basic enough - a beautiful girl in a sweltering city sips a Lipton iced tea, her skin transforms into a translucent miasma of water, sunlight and green tea leaves, and she hops on a stud's passing scooter for a ride out of the urban congestion and onto a road winding alongside the shimmering sea. The process of making her transformation real, however, was anything but basic.
Following a monthlong R&D process, Absolute spent two and a half months working in multiple Flame suites with Combustion support and Maya, RealFlow and Nuke cranking out CG material. To create the actress' alternate body, they modeled her in 3D and created simulated RealFlow animated water to sway through her. Once the team received the graded rushes, they animated the 3D model to match all of her movements, then painted the actress out of all of the VFX shots and comped the animated character in her place. Finally, the team comped in further elements of water and leaves, finishing each shot with 2D effects to create the sunlight elements.
"Our challenge was to develop a look for our character that clearly reads as being water, tea leaves and sunshine, but retains the actress' emotion and humanity," stated Absolute Lead Flame Artist Phil Oldham. "We solved the problem by subtly introducing the live-action performance back into the CG model in key performance shots. By combining this with precise match-moving from our CG team - led by Jamie White and Richard Nelson - we were able to develop a unique and interesting look that conveys a strong performance."
Spot Title: You Are What You Tea
Air Date: May 2011
Agency: DDB London
CD: Nick Bell
AD: Michael Brigdale
Producer: Lucinda Ker
Prod Co: Sonny London Productions
Director: Emil Moller
EP: Helen Kenny
Producer: Alicia Richards
Editorial Co: Peepshow
Editor: Amanda Perry
Post/Effects Co: Absolute Post UK
Lead Flame Artist: Phil Oldham
CG: Jamie White, Richard Nelson
EP: Andrew Swepson
Producer: Dan Bennett
Telecine Co: Company 3
Shoot Location: South Africa
Founded in 2004 by David Smith, one of the world's leading Flame artists, Absolute is a high-end VFX studio working within the commercial, emerging media, music video, and film communities. With offices in New York and London, Absolute over the years has collected numerous industry accolades including two BTAA awards, a D&AD pencil, a Cannes Lion, an APA Collection Diamond, three Andy wins and an MTV video statue. The New York office opened in 2007, helmed by CD Dirk Greene, to further facilitate Absolute's international client roster with a growing Flame and CG service.
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