Through our continued partnership with MEGAFORCE and RiffRaff Films, our creative team found opportunity in the experimental for Burberry’s ‘Night Creatures’ campaign. ‘Night Creatures’ followed the release of 2021’s critically acclaimed ‘Open Spaces,’ which explored blurring the boundaries between reality and fantasy. The first film in the now-trilogy, ‘Festive’ also used magic to explore the theme of friendship in the face of adversity.
‘Night Creatures’ begins with a group of three young people travelling on a London night bus. After coming to an abrupt halt, the trio soon discover a larger-than-life creature wandering London’s urban landscape. Soon, a graceful dance takes place as the creature carries our heroes throughout the city. The adventurous evening ends with the three gliding down the Thames atop their new friend.
We sat down with Mill VFX Supervisor, William Laban, to discuss the initial brief, what challenges the team encountered, and how the spot differed from its predecessors in the trilogy.
What was the brief?
The brief was about “exploring the unknown” through the strength, openness and togetherness of spirits. I guess there are a lot of ways to interpret this, but when I think about it, it’s referring to how we can step outside of our comfort zone: breaking down the barriers of close-mindedness and adopting the fearless and playful spirit of adventure.
We helped visualise MEGAFORCE’s brief early in the design process by concepting a “creature” that the actors can encounter and interact with. It was unlike anything we would usually create, so this process alone was quite literally exploring the unknown for us. It forced us to think outside the box and stray away from the usual sci-fi monster stereotypes. The sheer scale and alien aesthetic were meant to be intimidating at first sight, but as the actors interact, we see its playful intentions come to life.
What challenges did you encounter and how were these overcome?
The biggest challenge was the interaction between the creature and hero talent, so there were a few things we needed to adapt to. First off, we needed to get accurate scans of each character and their clothing so we would have their 3D double to animate when interacting with the character. This not only helped with lighting and contact interaction, but also allowed the animators to pick out their exact location.
Another key factor was that we shot in the height of summer when the nights were very short, so there was only a small window to film each night. Having an accurate lidar scan of the set allowed us to recreate it in CG so that we could shoot other shots in the studio and render the exact environment for the BG later.
What was it like working with MEGAFORCE once again?
It was a pleasure to be able to work with them again on the third instalment of this trilogy; they had such a clear vision going into this, which made our jobs a lot easier. They invested so much thought into every step of the process, so it made collaboration on different aspects of the creature’s development and animation seamless.
What was the difference about working on this project compared to the other two films?
The time constraints when filming at night in the summer meant we had no room for error, so a lot more planning went into this before the shoot to make sure we captured everything we needed.
I would also say for this piece that the VFX was integral for the storyline. There was nowhere to hide, so we had to make sure all the work was held up as the center focus on a lot of the shots.
We had roughly 3,800 frames of heavy VFX spanning across 23 shots, with the longest shot totaling 15 seconds! Besides a colossal 25M tall CG creature with 18 tentacles, we created a full CG 3D environment, three digi doubles, water, clothing, tree and atmospheric simulations, entire backplate projections…and the list goes on!
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