Playing on the well-known idiomatic expression of having ‘butterflies in your stomach’, the spot sees fleets of butterflies swarming through homes, pubs, streets and world renowned football stadiums, cleverly depicting the excitement fans feel on match day.
The butterflies were crafted in the traditional team colours of red and blue to reflect Sky Sports’ branding as well as the football clubs represented in the spot.
The Mill’s VFX team worked on a total of 73 shots, producing over five million butterflies for the larger stadium shots. They also carried out extensive matte painting work to enhance the stadium scenes, crafting some of the stadiums entirely in CG.
Mill Joint Head of 3D Michael Chapman explains, ‘The main challenge of this job was to bring a sense of drama to the iconic sporting locations through the butterfly motif.
The team meticulously modelled six species of butterflies taken from real life references to create the swarms.
On set, we shot numerous butterflies to study how they behaved and reacted to the many different lighting conditions which we filmed in.
We based our shading and lighting on these references, tweaking the patterns of each species of butterfly to suit the environments so their presence felt tangible.
We knew the animation of these creatures was going to be integral to the whole piece so we focused on creating flap cycles from the reference we had captured on set and from other nature documentaries.
We then used these animations to drive simulations for the large-scale shots, making sure each individual butterfly had realistic movement. We also hand animated the foreground butterflies in each shot to give us precise control over their position and movement.
We used Maya to build and animate the butterflies, we simulated the large flocks in Houdini and then we rendered through our in house render procedural in Arnold within Maya.’
Mill Creative Director Jonathan ‘Wes’ Westley explains, ‘We were first involved in this project at the pitching stage, working closely with the creative team at adam&eveDDB to help with the mood film that was pitched to Sky Sports.
It’s a great script which any sports fan can relate to; stepping into a sporting arena and feeling the tension in the air and the anticipation as to what is about to unfold.
The ‘butterflies’ illustrate that feeling perfectly. Having the Director Rupert on board also ensured we ended up with a great result.’