Stay Safe with Lightfarm Studios and MTV
In the development of human language we spent a lot of time on drawings. All throughout Ancient Egypt, before the creation of the Phoenician alphabet, we used hieroglyphs: tiny pictures that created new meanings within context. Over the following centuries we developed multiple alphabets that are used all over the world but each system can be traced back to an illustration-based system. Now, in the 2010s we’re using that way of communicating again in a new way. Emoji offer a way for users to inject emotion and storytelling into simple conversation, and MTV wanted to capitalize on their popularity it a new safe sex campaign with Lightfarm Studios.
It’s no secret that there are certain emoji that have taken on specific meanings that go beyond our disparate languages. The eggplant is notoriously a stand-in for a phallus, while the peach represents a rear end or a part of female anatomy. Using emoji as slang for touchy subjects the conversation is able to extend beyond coyness or education. So much of the trouble with a lack of safe sex, and the results of those decisions, comes from kids being woefully uninformed or afraid of engaging in education conversations. But Lightfarm’s ads get the information across in a clear way and offer a disarming bit of humor, cutting right through to the heart of the matter.
MTV has always been on the very cutting edge of tends for the younger generations, shepherding the conversation in surprising and engaging ways. Lightfarm Studios was the perfect partner to create these hilariously subversive ads and you can find more of their work here.
Lightfarm Studios Gives Pepsi a Twist
Pepsi Twist is a little bit sour and a little bit sweet. The drink, introduced in the 2000s, uses a splash of lime juice in every sip to offer a more exciting experience that tickles the senses and excites the palate. That play on flavors is exactly what Pepsi and Lightfarm Studios dove into when creating their latest campaign. In the series of ads a pair of limes, the drink’s mascots, are also a little bit sour and a little bit sweet. Their mischievous nature is hilarious and full of a silly wickedness that appeals to our most sly natures. We don’t have to tell you that there isn’t a huge contingency of limes with legs, arms, and faces running around to photograph, so Lightfarm was the perfect choice to create these characters in a realistic way using a combination of techniques to create compositions that are ultimately as beautiful as they are silly.
Lightfarm is known for their CGI work, but to create beautifully realistic images, sometimes it’s best to combine photography with digital painting. Each of these techniques offers different benefits, and Lightfarm is expert at balancing those benefits. “For 3D images I like the plasticity and the technical challenges that arise along the way,” explains Milton Menezes of Lightfarm. “Photography has greater realism, but also has its own challenges of production, and capturing small details.” By bringing them both together, Lightfarm got the best of both worlds. They began by setting up the compositions using real limes, getting as close as they could to the final result. Then they filled in what couldn’t be captured perfectly on film: the texture of the limes’ skins, color purity, a natural feeling of weight in their appendages. Each technique offered different details that they were able to use to the greatest execution possible.
The results are playful, sometimes with the reminder to not try this at home. Sometimes the limes are working together in reverence for the drink, or executing a fun trick. But other times they’re engaged in pranking each other, whether one is cutting the floor out from the other as he tries to enjoy a drink, or one launches the other on a rocket. They’re exciting and clever fun, a combination that is as refreshing as a sweet and sour drink on a hot day.
Lightfarm Studios Gets Emotive with Pepsi
Emojis were born from the desire to express emotions visually. As our communication has become increasingly text based, emojis provide the opportunity to manually offer the social cues and body language that comes with interacting in person. A well-placed wink or smiley face can change the entire meaning of a phrase, and help two people better understand one another. Those who are particularly savvy can communicate exclusively with emojis, casting faces as characters and spinning yarns through pictures. Pepsi, ever with their hand on the pulse of popular culture, decided to employ emojis with BBDO, using Lightfarm Studios to execute the idea.
A series of scenes show bottles and cans of Pepsi locked in social interactions with one another, putting forward the faces of emojis to tell simple stories. Simon McCormack explains that when they got the 100% CGI project, they were immediately looking forward to it. “They had a really cool brief and we thought it was fun with those emoji characters,” he says. Not only was it a cool project to undertake but it was also unique for them.
Typically, Lightfarm works with agencies to take photographed materials and bring them to the next level, oftentimes shepherding them into a new world. But this was different. “We do a lot of photo realistic stuff, but no so much of these abstract, graphic looking projects,” Simon explains. “So it was cool to work on something different in that way.” The results use the same Spartan style of emojis to tell the visual stories. Whether it’s a trio of terrified cans being chased by a bee bottle, or a drink crowd surfing other cans, these simple set ups are all one really needs to express an entire story.
Simon and his team were presented with an additional challenge for the Pepsi project: how to make it so Pepsi could make as many of these images as they wanted. Lightfarm created compositions so that Pepsi, employing a kind of visual MadLibs, could swap out the emojis in the future. But the condensation on the bottles and cans complicated the images, since they would change depending on what emoji was placed in there. “You get light refractions through the droplets,” explains Simon. “We had to figure out a way to set it up for them so they could insert different emojis underneath the drops and still look great. That was one of the real challenges on this one and in the end we did really well with it.”
Lightfarm Studios and Perrier melt into summer
As summer kicks into high gear, so too does Perrier: swooping in to save us all from the oppressive heat. Their perennial Melting campaign returns as the mercury climbs up our thermometers, and Lightfarm Studios is there to bring it into 2014.
Placing us on a boat a short distance from a melting coastal city, Lightfarm Studios has put us in a precarious situation: our flotation device is dissolving into the sea. Not only is the deck buckling into the water, but an adjacent sailboat is almost completely melted, and the city in the distance is turning into a river of molten metal and stone. The beautiful nightmarish scene is almost entirely computer generated. Using CGI, Lightfarm Studios does the heavy lifting, turning a summer scene into a Dali inspired holiday "fever dream."
The only things that remain intact from the heat are the bottles of refreshing Perrier. Simon McCormack, from Lightfarm Studios, explains that they digitally constructed the bottles, which is a little unconventional. He says, “We intended to photograph the bottles but the samples had a rough ride in shipping so we decided to change to a CGI solution.” This allowed for a whole new level of control in how the bottles looked, and Lightfarm Studios totally nailed it, considering how much Perrier loved them.
Perrier’s Melting campaign has been around for half a decade, ushering in the summer, and Lightfarm Studios was excited to be a part of such a rich tradition. Simon confided, “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to create the next installment.”
Now to find out if those bottles float…
B&A in 200 Best Digital Artists Worldwide
Four B&A talents are featured in Lürzer's Archive's 200 Best Digital Artists Worldwide.
Coherent Images was included for a set of futuristic bugs created to advertise a Bayer insecticide. "I paid special attention to detail in hi-res rendering," Thomas Simpfendoerfer explained. "I wanted the insects to look 'natural' also in exhibition panel size reproduction. 'Natural' is an important, but ambivalent word for us CGI artists. We are of two minds, as the object is digitally made, but should be utterly convincing, as if it could exist in our natural environment."
Serial Cut's ad for L'Auditori, home of the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, fell under the volume's "Objects" section. "The shapes coming out of the box represent classical instruments, but, at the same time, the shapes are not totally clear, though they appear tactile," Sergio del Puerto noted. "We leave it to your eye to draw them."
Ars Thanea's work for Discovery Networks, Disney, and Nvidia received recognition.
A trio of projects by Lightfarm Studios was also selected: a promo for Sony 3D Television meant to capture an OMG moment frozen in time; an extraordinary visual for Radio New Zealand's classical music battle that depicts the frontline struggle between two scores; and an advertisement for So Good Almond Milk. "We originally thought about photographically shooting the glass and milk elements, however we decided the best outcome for reflection control would be to create it in CGI," Denny Monk remarked. "We also found that once all of our almonds were in place, a slight hiccup occurred ... with so many of the same-looking objects put together so closely, an interesting moiré pattern appeared. With the flexibility and control via CGI, we were able to quickly remedy the issue."
Read about B&A in Communication Arts' Photo Annual here.