Bouncing bingo balls
PaddyPower came to us recently with a brief: adding graphics to their bingo TV ad. Why was it challenging? None of the footage was shot with graphics in mind (so no tracking points), and needed to be completed in a very short time frame of 2 days.
Never one to back down, we analyzed the footage and brainstormed our options. The idea was to integrate bingo balls into the scene, but not make them the stars of the show. This meant we had to get a decent track of each scene, so the balls felt apart of the furniture and didn't outstay their welcome.
Here's the breakdown of what we did.
Tracking was our first major priority, because without it our ideas would be severely limited. Since there were no markers in the footage, trying to get a decent track in C4D would be a world of hurt. Instead, we opened up After Effects and used their 'track camera' feature. This allowed us to experiment with different points in the scene which could make a decent starting place. We did this for each scene in turn, to make sure there wasn't a problem with any individual shot later down the line (and thankfully, there wasn't!). Some of the points required manual adjustments, but after almost a full day of tracking we were confident the balls would sit in the scene and not flip around like an Olympic gymnast.
Speaking of bingo balls - they were our next priority. Equipped with our new knowledge and tracking data, we could start to think about how the balls would animate. We juggled a few ideas around, but eventually landed on the idea of a giant ball falling into frame, with little balls exploding out of it. Why? Because almost all the shots involved an obvious place for the bingo balls to land (like a table), which minimised other time consuming tasks like rotoscoping the footage.
After some testing, we discovered it would be most visually pleasing to make the bingo balls slightly reflective. Similar to a pool ball, but with the gravity of a ping-pong ball so it would look exciting when animated. We did this by setting up our textures in C4D. As well as choosing the bingo balls colours, we added reflectance at 70% strength, so that other balls, lights and scene elements would be reflected in the surface. We built a rough set of the shots with objects we wanted reflected in the balls. In this case, the table and sofa:
We created a sky object, which allowed us to take a still from the scene and place that into 3D space. The result was the reflection of the actors in the balls:
Finally, we set up our lights to match what we could see in shot, generating shadows that would help everything fit into the scene naturally:
The weight and movement of the balls was created using a particle simulation in C4D. Playing with the settings we were able to create speed and a sense of movement which suited our goals. We also added tags to the balls which meant they were affected by gravity, and could collide with each other and other objects instead of passing straight through (such as hitting a table surface).
Our beautiful designers divided the shots between them in order to speed up the process. Once this was all complete, the shots were comped individually in After Effects. Here we refined the 3D renders, colour correcting the balls to match their surroundings, along with some minor rotoscoping of the footage where necessary.
Finally, the real test: bringing it all together in edit. With so many chefs in the kitchen, it can be hard to keep each shot looking consistent. The team all gathered to review the work, taking a well deserved moment to step back and view the advert as a whole. Thankfully, everyone was on their A game - with only minor adjustments needed for one or two shots.
Phew! What a manic 2 days! But worth the effort. All of us are extremely proud of what we've achieved.