Prime Focus delivers VFX for Tesco‘s F&F TVC

Prime Focus was involved in bringing Vaughan Arnell‘s incredible vision to life for the new advert for Tesco‘s F&F clothing range, working alongside The Red Brick Road and Stink. The concept was to show the various roles of one woman‘s life played out simultaneously in a single location. A train station became the chosen venue to achieve this.

To achieve this ambitious creative treatment, motion control was used, filming the woman in five separate outfits and following different routes through the station concourse. Shot using the Arri ALEXA and finished in HD, the level of detail covered on set was astounding with individual departure boards built in After Effects and placed throughout the station. “The scope of work is tremendous for a 40 second shot with no cuts or wipes”, said Hani AlYousif, Prime Focus‘ VFX Supervisor and Lead Flame Op on the project. “Everything had to be pin-sharp and perfect. Because it was a motion control move, the focus was locked in terms of picking up the individual performers, which added a lot of complications to the rotoscoping.”

Prime Focus‘ unique global footprint and talent pool meant that Vaughan, the director, did not need to use blue or green screens on shoot, instead he was able to film what he wanted and then utilize the Global Digital Pipeline to complete the extensive rotoscoping that was required. “On this project alone we had the benefit of a team of 60 highly skilled artists in India working flat out doing the roto. This freed up time in London to further enhance the creative aspects on the project and we were actually able to over deliver”, added Hani, discussing the alternate final versions that were presented to the client.

With a motion control move, everything was shot at 32fps to make it appear floatier and enhance the fashion feel of the ad, which was then played back at 25fps. On the shoot, the Director wanted to have crowds circling around the main actors, but just as blurred streaks, so with a motion control rig the team shot at 1fps with the main characters moving at 32fps. Due to the infrastructure at Prime Focus, specifically the talent pool of rotoscopers on hand, two versions of the ad were finished, one with the time-lapse crowd and one with the travelers shot at the same frame rate as the hero characters, which enabled the client to select their preferred final version.

Another challenge on the shoot was the background plate due to the size of the hall and the changing light conditions throughout the day. Therefore to balance out the lighting, after every good take another clean background plate was shot to have a lighting reference that Flame Op Rob Ellis could use in post for the shadow extraction.

The grade was overseen by Prime Focus Creative Director, Tareq Kubaisi and completed by Colourist Duncan Russell. Tareq said, “Creatively a key objective was to ensure consistency across the spot as we were grading layer upon layer upon layer. We wanted to establish a convincing time of an Autumnal day and enk sure that the layers appeared seamless so the final result was as natural as possible.” Duncan added, “It was hugely challenging technically and massively satisfying creatively and just great fun overall. I was floored by Vaughan‘s vision and ambition; I like to think we got close to his initial idea.”

Director, Vaughn Arnell was just as pleased with the end result and said, “It was a pleasure to collaborate with Prime Focus and Hani on a particularly complicated execution of something that had to look effortless as an end film. They achieved this and more.” He added, “It was invaluable to have their input from the outset – from the very first meetings about how we would approach the idea to the very last frame as it played out.”