The French automotive brand Feu Vert has unveiled an advert inspired by the greatest action films, starring its iconic cat mascot Ramses.
In the middle of a city, an evil robot appears and destroys everything in its path. But IronCat, Ramses, uses his superpowers to take down his enemy. A spectacular Marvel-style battle, but unfortunately the reality is quite different…
In fact, this epic scene came straight out of the imagination of two creative minds from an agency pitching their storytelling concept to the Feu Vert marketing team. Unfortunately, they hadn’t realised that they were talking about purchasing power (“pouvoir d’achat” in French) and not the power of the cat (“pouvoir du chat” in French). It was a hilarious misunderstanding that resulted in a fantastic film, to the delight of The Mill Paris team.
The Mill’s Parisian team made creative direction of the first epic scene in full CG, using their imagination to transport us into a real action scene! Flaming skyscrapers, explosions, helicopters, police cars, dust… every detail is the result of many hours of collective brainstorming between our talents, the client, the Buzzman agency and the director Antoine De Bary. We also created and animated three 3D characters: the evil robot, the IronCat and, of course, the white-furred and iconic cat called Ramses.
A great collaboration, broadcast on television but also in cinemas before “The Flash” and “Transformer: Rise of the Beast”.
Guillaume Ho, VFX supervisor and creative director, said “In January, based on a creative idea from the Buzzman agency, I proposed a storyboard and then a moodboard with references and inspirations from action films such as ‘Iron Man’, ‘Transformers’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and more. Once these elements had been shared and validated, we began to create 3D animatics with Alexandre Sauthier. In addition to setting the mood board and creating a universe, we worked with the team on the narrative and began to contextualize the proportions of the set and the characters we had to create. This animation enabled us to establish a solid working base from a creative, artistic and technical point of view. I had free rein for this first scene and it was a real pleasure to accept this challenge as creative director and VFX supervisor.
“At the same time as creating the sets and making progress on the animatics, we tackled the design of the two main characters, first in 2D, then once the agency, the production company and the client had approved everything, we transposed them into 3D using Maya software. We proceeded in the same way for the full CG set. It is quite complex to make a realistic cat and manage to reproduce its gait and expressions without falling into cartoon style, especially when the character has to speak. We rose to the challenge brilliantly. I have done quite a few photorealistic CG animals throughout my career, like a bear, marmots and ferrets, but I had never done a cat before!
“I was impatient to be able to continue working on this character that our teams had developed in the previous Feu Vert campaign. We quickly managed to find technical and artistic ways of creating Ramses, the emblematic Feu Vert cat in ‘Super Hero’ mode. The client was very satisfied, as was the director Antoine de Bary, and they complete trust in us throughout the production process.
“The collaboration was perfect with Buzzman agency creatives Louis Audard and Tristan Darloff, who wrote a great script.
“I am very satisfied with the final result, the in-house team was very committed and attentive to every detail. The working atmosphere remained very positive, and I think that really shows in the final result. Once again, a big well done to the whole team for this work. The assets and the film are superb. I think the campaign stands out from the crowd of so-called “classic” French ads and of course big ups to the Buzzman agency and the Feu Vert client for this brand film, which I hope will make a big splash!”
“We were delighted to work on this highly original Feu Vert project with a very epic full CG opening scene. We went on the shoot with Guillaume Ho and had a great time because the story was entertaining and the cast very funny. Right from the start we knew that the rest of the work would be fun.
“Once in the studio, we worked with a small team from start to finish and I think we all really enjoyed working together and making these images. When you work with a small team, the good thing is that we can touch on all the disciplines. I was CG supervisor, but I also contributed to the Art Direction, lighting, compositing and texturing of the characters.
“The client and the agency let The Mill express its creativity for this first sequence, with the only brief being to make it epic. As we were given a lot of freedom, each member of the team was able to add his or her own touch.”
Vincent Coni, CG supervisor, said: “We took the brief literally and created a cat dressed in robot armor who arrives in a full CG city. For the 3 character assets of the white cat, the Iron Cat and the robot, we went through a look dev phase and then the modeling, which was mainly done by Nicolas Duthatco and Arnaud Prat, not forgetting the shading, the rigg and the fur. The main challenge for the characters was to reproduce the cat-like gait of Ramses, the iconic Feu Vert character. As he is in all the brand’s ads, we had to reproduce his expressions and the right lipsync without forgetting the posing. With good visual references and discussions with the director and the team, we managed to obtain a realistic cat asset that met the client’s expectations. As far as the set design was concerned, we also had free rein. This freedom allowed us to enjoy ourselves visually and even have fun. We’d put an explosion in one corner, FX smoke in the other, flying debris, optical flair, which are lens distortion effects, etc. The client was very open and satisfied with all our proposals, which motivated us even more to give our best. At times we almost had the impression that it was a personal project. This was my first time working with Feu Vert, and I couldn’t have wished for anything better. A big well done to the whole team, who did a great job and were very positive throughout the production. We are all very proud of ourselves.”
Sébastien Noyon, VFX producer, says: “This was the fourth Feu Vert project I’d worked on, but this one was a bit more special because we were able to contribute to the artistic direction of the full CG shots. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the shooting in Paris with the supervisors and it was very rewarding to be present during the production and post-production phases. It enabled us to interact directly with the client, to approve or reject modifications and to move forward more efficiently during the production and also afterwards for the VFX step. On the set I met the whole Buzzman agency team, whom I know well, including Saveria Besset and Morgan Gaspar – it was a great time. You could say it was a pleasure project because the final images are brilliant, and the collaboration was perfect, with a lot of mutual trust and respect. At the same time, we managed the 16 prints with Lucas Vielay, Valérian Lesprier and Jeremy Gravinay. We’re always delighted to be able to satisfy our customers, and this time their satisfaction was such that they decided to release the film in cinemas ahead of ‘The Flash’ and ‘Transformers: Rise of the Beast’. We can all be proud.”
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