View Full Version : Levi's Odyssey - The making of

09 September 2002, 02:03 PM
We've just posted an article on the making of the Levi's Odyssey commercial with VFX done by Framestore CFC in the UK.



Any questions about the production, feel free to post them here and I'll ask the blokes from Framestore CFC to help answer.



09 September 2002, 03:20 PM
Two thumbs up on the feature guys, very informative. After seeing parts of this commercial in the new A|W demo reel I was really curious about the piece and how it was done.

Just wondering what the piece was shot on, and if all the post was onlined at just PAL resolution, or at 2k if the original footage was shot on film (for theatrical showings perhaps).

09 September 2002, 04:14 PM
hehe everyone on my floor is coming by to see the commercial :D

really inspiring work, and a great article too :thumbsup:

btw... anyone know the music that is in the commercial?

09 September 2002, 04:14 PM

I love this stuff. It's absolutely amazing what can be done. :buttrock:

09 September 2002, 04:18 PM
I have a lot of questions about this piece but I want to think about them really hard so that they will be worthy.
This is an ad that I was going to put on my bachelor that's about 3d in the industry.But I had a lot of hard time finding some bigger resolution pictures.All I could found was 320X240 or lower!!!! This resolution just can't be printed.Is there a way they can provide some bigger resolution pics of the making of pictures and a bigger resolution clip?
Thanks anyway.
PS: I'll come up with the answers in a little while.
Thanks again

09 September 2002, 05:03 PM
The tune in the advert is 'Sarabande in D Minor from Suite Eleven' by Handel.

and a fantastic piece of work.

Andre Goersch
09 September 2002, 06:30 PM
Very informative...
I hope we see more articles like that in the future...

09 September 2002, 06:57 PM
I saw this take in Maya Reel 2002... But I don't remember if was there...

09 September 2002, 07:19 PM
That's cool. I didn't get the impression they were breaking free of emotional confines and everything at all!. I just thought they were aggresively racing each other like within the context of a flirty competition and the world was the their playground, like a symoblic thing that happens a lot in relationships.

09 September 2002, 07:31 PM
Thats sooo bad.:buttrock: :buttrock: :buttrock: . thanks for posting it


09 September 2002, 07:45 PM
talk about overkill....

09 September 2002, 08:05 PM
Who are you talking to stimpy?

09 September 2002, 08:05 PM
Link is dead... I really wanted to see it also...

09 September 2002, 08:16 PM
dont get me wrong here. i really do like the commercial and the atmosphere of it. and i really respect all the work jonathan glazer has done so far, his UNKLE video creeping me out every single time....

and i do really like the idea of a director being able to finetune his vision until hes totally satisfied with it.

but 7 months just for a commercial ?? with 20 people working on it at some time ??? just seems to much for me.

09 September 2002, 08:22 PM
7 months is not that much really ,

all the storyboarding , scripting , shooting the film , solving the problems , and considering the quality of work done by framestore , 7 months is not long at all.

09 September 2002, 08:28 PM
Yeah that is pretty long for what it was (like the length of the commercial). The article did say that what the studio had originally programmed procedurally ended up having to have parts of it meticulously animated by hand, maybe that's why.

The guy wanted it to be of scenamatic quality though, and that means rediculous amounts of money and time could be spent in recreating something artificially that in real life only lasts seconds and cost nothing!

but yeah, the more I think about it the more it seems that it seems like a rather large amount of time to get what they did.

And it still is a philosophical stretch for me to see what the guy was trying to symbolically convery in his commercial than what I instantly felt and saw. I mean if it was his point to get that message of breaking free of emotional confines and what not, I sure didn't feel any of that. I guess it's because his experiences and how he sees people in action and what they represent are very different than what I see in the very same thing. I just don't see how that commercial conveys that meaning he was trying to say. Even after knowing what he meant, I see where he was trying to convey that but it seems totally off to me.

It reminded me a lot of hte movie Matrix too. I kept thinking about it, like the scene where Trinity is running along the roof top and the way the shots were made while she was running. And of course being able to smash through walls and run up trees into the the atmosphere and stuff :) The mood and lighting in it is very similar too.

09 September 2002, 08:37 PM
having been there myself i am quite aware of all the work involved for a film/tv production of any kind, may it be pre or post.

and i sure didnt want to belittle anyones involvement in this commercial, since as i pointed out, i really like it... its mood and atmosphere and look.

i am just wondering if that time frame though is justified, having seen some kind of spoof on it, which two old ladys running through walls. in that spoof you can clearly see the walls being made out of styrofoam, etc. but it IS quite close to the LEVIS one....

well.. im sure the budget sure was far from little, so sure.. why not go ahead and tweak until you reach perfection.

09 September 2002, 09:00 PM
loved the spot when it passe don Telé,
great work,

09 September 2002, 09:05 PM
Originally posted by Sheep Factory
7 months is not that much really ,

all the storyboarding , scripting , shooting the film , solving the problems , and considering the quality of work done by framestore , 7 months is not long at all.

By 20 people at some points, seems a little long, storyboard and script and such, come one for a commercial like tht story board including revision should be no more than three weekk depending on communication between boardist anddirector, script, well there is no script simply an idea. Problem solving would be the longest part, moreso thantn the acutal effects and shooting, but seriously doensn't seem lke it should have been a 7 month production for such a commercial.

09 September 2002, 09:35 PM
Question - Just which elements in the commercial are 3d and what isn't? :D

09 September 2002, 09:40 PM
Parts of the walls that broke away, dust, the trees, in the article link at 3dfestival it talks about it all.

09 September 2002, 09:52 PM
the levis site had a nice "making of" on their site when the ad came out, with nice behind the scenes footage, mostly focusing on the actual shoot of course, but it was funny to see the original material without all the extra stuff.

too bad its not on their site anymore..... got replaced by their new ad. as far as i can see.

09 September 2002, 09:59 PM

here is the "making of" im talking about:

lets hope the server wont get swamped

09 September 2002, 11:16 PM
I have to agree about the timescale issue... I read an article on the ad in 3D World last month, and I simply couldn't believe the amount of time/people they had on the project! And it wasn't like it took longer than they'd thought - that's how they scheduled!

I can only imagine that the people working on it were flitting between other projects at the same time... :shrug:

Let me put it this way, if someone walked into where I work and suggested the concept for the advert - we would all look nervously at one another... if they said "Is 7 months long enough? Oh and you'll have a team of 20 people..." we'd be laughing - a lot!

Still, stunning stuff - there was a Lilt 'spoof' of the same ad here in the UK, which was of surprisingly good quality too! (*potters off to find out who did it*)

09 September 2002, 02:42 AM
that link is down and the qt is now on a javascript popup on this page

and judging by the site i think they did the lints odyssey aswell.

09 September 2002, 06:01 AM
Well they probably weren’t the only ones that bid on the job and they were the ones that got it. So I guess the competition couldn’t create that quality faster or cheaper. Also, considering Levis advertising budget, I don’t think there is such a thing as over doing it. In my opinion they ended up with one sweet commercial.


09 September 2002, 06:13 AM
speakin gof tunes for commercials. anyone know the song ...artist...whatever that was used on the french dictionary commercial ? ( also by levis i believe )

09 September 2002, 06:38 AM
Other then the amount of time taken fer this ad... is there anything really worth harping bout? I reaaaallly want to know.

...Okeyyyy, i was just kiddinnnnnggg....:rolleyes:

Frankly i just don't really understand whats the message it is trying to convey. So, there's this chic and this dude, running up a tree = what?:D

....Okeyyyy, just kidding again...

Then the breaking the wall thing... Whats up brother?!?

...okeyyyy, i was kidding again...

So, how much did they spend on something that i don't understand? How much again?


okey, i better leave this thread now...

edit: there was once a japanese dude, doin the streching and more streching thing, now THAT i understand!;)

09 September 2002, 07:44 AM
Originally posted by gearious
Well they probably weren’t the only ones that bid on the job and they were the ones that got it. So I guess the competition couldn’t create that quality faster or cheaper. Also, considering Levis advertising budget, I don’t think there is such a thing as over doing it. In my opinion they ended up with one sweet commercial.


What we are saying about them overdoing it, is that we can't see why it took seven months for that awesome wuality. I mean seriously we have all seen far more impressive stuff done if less time, watch a lot of the recent feature films their are tonnes of shots that are done in far less time, I mean wait to see Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets, In one year the will do far more shots then in that commercial, and I bet you most of the individual shots are done in smaller groups, and in less time. 7 months, just seemd like it must have been an off and on production.

09 September 2002, 07:53 AM
Originally posted by ambient-whisper
speakin gof tunes for commercials. anyone know the song ...artist...whatever that was used on the french dictionary commercial ? ( also by levis i believe )

Air - Playground Love

09 September 2002, 09:47 AM
sweet. thanks man. been asking around for that one for a while now :)

09 September 2002, 12:35 PM
thx a lot man, that was exactly what i wanted to know when i saw the commercial for the first time on tv!:thumbsup:

09 September 2002, 01:51 PM
Hi everyone,

I will try to answer some of your queries. Please feel free to ask more. I was a "hands on" CG supervisor on the spot. My focus was on the wall section.

Let's see if I remember this properly. The live action was shot on 35 mm film. We then pulled it in through our Digital Lab (scanned at 6k), downrez'd a version to 2k to keep "on file" (in case we needed it). We then downrez'd again to our work work resolution 1280x960 (we call it 1k in house). This is the resolution we did our CG in. After the post, we then shot out through Digital Lab again to film, and then the spot was graded. I am not sure if everyone see the benefits, so I'll explain. 2k version was kept on file in case we needed to move into the frame in one of the shots. This way we had resolution to play with. We worked in 1k because our Digital Lab has some nice features with this resolution to go back on to film. The spot went to film before grading, because the director want to do a grade on film, not a digital grade.

Our web site ( just went through a re-design, so everything has moved. I asked Leonard to use this new link instead. Enjoy!
Our go to our web site, and check out the commercial section under "CGI".

It's surprising how quickly time goes by when you are in the middle of such a massive production. We started out with a team of 9-10 trying to figure out the ins and outs for a couple of months. A lot of R&D and design development went on. When we hit proper production we had 5 people animating wall explosions for 5 weeks alone. 1 TD animating dust passes in particles. 1 TD setting up and running the simulations. 3 people getting the trees into shots. 2 people tracking shots. 1 R&D person writing code. 4 compositing artists cleaning up plates and compositing. A couple of sups, and a couple of producers. Two months after the shoot we did have a commercial, but we'd learnt so much in the process it felt right to have a couple of people in 3D stay on and redo the wall explosions so that they were all up to standard with the later ones. After that month there was some final compositing going on (1-2 comp artists) until the spot had to deliver. Considering there were 28 wall explosions and a complete CG forest to create I guess seven months was all right start to finish, out of which 4-5 months was proper 3D production.

Thank you for enjoying the commercial. I know it is pretentious and over the top. But you've got to love it for it.


Markus Manninen
Framestore CFC

09 September 2002, 03:10 PM
Gods! That is like building the pyramid!!
Now i know the whys!!:)

Thx Leonard and thxs to you too Markus Manninen for the skinny.

ok, now got to redo the pipeline....

09 September 2002, 03:51 PM
Hey everyone.

I also supervised the CGI on the Levi's project alongside Markus.
I've got a couple of responses to a few of the comments.

What works for me in the final commercial is the freedom of the camera. If you watch it again you'll see the cameras are mostly hand held, shifting focus and thrashing around. To get this effect, we couldn't use any kind of motion control . In fact the camera was in most cases mounted on the side of a van hanging from a strap giving the DOP complete flexibility. For us that was a pain in the neck. Tracking data was a blur so equaliser and boujou would help us. Therefore every shot in the 60 seconds was tracked by eye. This is by no means a conventional way of shooting effects, but the only way for Jonathan to get the performance and shots he wanted.

In terms of getting the job in, we weren't bidding against anyone else. Framestore-cfc used to be two different but sister companies. Jonathan approached CFC who were busy, so the job was awarded to the commercial department at Framestore.

To respond to production times, in comparison to other projects such as HP2. Commercials are a different ballgame to film. as a CG Supervisor, I had three levels of approval hierarchy. Director, Agency, Levi's.

As an example of meeting all requirements, I animated each piece on the slowmotion shot which is the cover picture for Markus' feature. Antoinette is striding through an empty hole in the wall. Whilst animating this shot I had 4 contradictory objectives I had to keep balancing in my head.
1. I want the pieces to react in a real world manner.
2. Jonathan wanted to see the face clearly as soon as possible. (we also opened her eyes in inferno)
3. The agency wanted the concept of walls crumbling away to work. forceful and believable.
4. Whilst the people at Levi's of course just 'wanna see the jeans'!!!

Anyway, its fun reading the comments on here... keep it coming!


09 September 2002, 03:57 PM
So here's some more info on why and what.

The main reason of why it took 4-5 months to complete the commercial was mainly a creative issue. We developed a look early on for both the tree and wall section of the commercial. However when the final shots were being put together there was a concern that the look wasn't convincing and appropriate for the commercial. So in many ways we went back to "the drawing board" and developed a new look and feel. We weren't back to square one, but we were far from being able to push through a lot of shots. So we did the work necessary. And the main part of this work was done by a few key individuals in the team, so it wasn't 20 people doing this "re-work". We are talking maybe five people. Then, once we all were happy with the new look and feel, we threw people at it to be able to get the commercial done in time. Therefor the large number of people on the job. For a shorter period of time. When they were off other projects. It does sound kind of impressive though (or a huge waist of resources, depending how you see it).

Someone was saying that there are a lot of shows that have better production value done more quickly. I agree there are, but also you see very few shows featuring full CG environments close up (especially a forest), and 28 individual completely CG wall explosions. Those who crunch similar values do tend to run long. Most of them probably longer than 4 months of CG. Most of them with bigger teams.

We stayed true to a director's vision of where he wanted to take this particular commercial. It tooks us a good while to get it right, to satisfy him. We did in the end. The commercial wasn't a big money earner for the company. It never was meant to be. When we decided to stay on and re-visit the shots we weren't happy with, someone else wasn't picking up the bill. By then it was purely to make it the best it could be.

There is a reason why practical effects are still used for explosions, and I certainly know why now. I would have loved for Levi's to be what it is, but done practically. Believe you me.

However, we also did the LILT ad that was mentioned in relation to the Levi's ad, and that was done practically mainly. For the viewer they may not be that different, but when you break down the spot you see locked off or paning cameras, and explosions that don't quite react to the person running. It was never meant to be Levi's. And it works. But believe me, Jonathan (Glazer, director) would never have bought us telling him that he would have to do it with lock offs or paning distant cameras.
... not that there is anything wrong with that.
And when you have someone like Jonathan wanting to do a beautiful film, you want to give him all the freedom he needs. Shoot it the way he wants to. That's why his stuff is so amazing.


Markus Manninen
Framestore CFC

09 September 2002, 05:40 PM
Cheers Markus and Andrew,

I wont bitch about the seven months productiontime,
since I think it´s been a very rare chance for you guys
to actually have the time to complete a commercial.
(Rushes just recently finished a spot in 10 days, guess
none of the folks will do post again - who replaced the burnouts :?...

I´d like to ask some more practical things, on page 3 of
the article there´s a shot with a tree and lot´s of cut-out´s
placed on a tree. What was that for ? It does look freaky :)

Did you guys have lot´s of longhours or did the *creative
decisions process*help keeping it a 9to5er ?


P.S: I sounds wonderful when someone admits he put in extra
work to get out the best thing possible. Guess no one will ever
pay this, tho :-)

09 September 2002, 07:03 PM
Way to go guys. Vision takes time.... the only reason that I can think of for all of the bitching about how long it took is that these people have never done agency work. As someone who works regularly with ad agency and understands the minutia that art directors constantly harp about I think the timetable is quite reasonable. Especially considering the stellar results you achieved. The hair stands up on my neck every time I watch the commercial (particularly the final sequence) as I remember my own occasional feelings of wanting to break free from the confines that the world puts upon us all.

A query however. What enhancements or corrections were done DURING the run sequences to show the jeans off more. If any were done at all. I am curious as to how specific the agency (and Levi's) was as how how much of the product had to be show at any given time.

Great job. Keep it up.



09 September 2002, 07:28 PM
Hmm careful what you say miguel, its somewhat naive to think your the only one around here to do agency work.

Anyways,its a little more clear now to see that much of this was spent redoing scenes, sounds much like the chaotic Emperor's new groove production, halfway thru you realise something isn't workin right have to go back and focus on making sure things meld properly.

Just curious as to how much time Levi's actually gave you guys,Markus mentioned that a lot of the shots revisited were on your own bill, and that you all worked on them until your were satisfied seems like Levi's was pretty laidback about the production date, and/or really loved what you guys were doing to give that kinda freedom to just tweak and rework.

09 September 2002, 07:39 PM
Thanks for the post, I've been looking for this for awhile!

09 September 2002, 10:27 PM

I wouldn't call it bitching, that's a bit rude. And the guys that were involved on this have explained why it did take longer than it could have because things had to be redone and there were less people at times and they wanted to get things right. So people who were 'bitching' had a valid point, they weren't mocking or trying to make the makers of the commerical look incapable or something like that at all.

09 September 2002, 10:59 PM
Since there is a chance that one of the creators will be able to respond - and because I love doing it - I went through the
clip frame by frame.

Here´s my nitpicking, with quicktime-timecodes:

-First off, I love the editing of the piece.

00:00:10:19 here´s one of the few (single) frames where
the lighting seems off, too bright even for this toplit room.
It´s a bit as if it was done brighter to catch more attention.

00:00:18:03ff she does look a bit like a deformed nurbsplane
with a lowered brightness/gamma to achieve a more contrasty
breakthrough. I find this particular wallbreaker the (only) weak
fxshot. But I guess that´s all just visible frame by frame.

00:00:20:22 That´s a cool packshot. I Really like it.

00:00:38:12ff WTF happened to her hair. It lost all it´s spring.
It looks as if a ton of hairspray has been using to create thick,
absolutely disturbing strands of hair. Doesn´t make her sexy :-)

00:00:40:06 in is even more noticable after the cutback.
But that´s all just taste. I simply like girls the old fashioned way,
clean and with a nice *breeze* even at the most unusual situations. Just like in the old *Studio* movies.

After all, another hats off. It seems as if every single frame
has been heavily edited. Some shots look as if they have been
labourously sought together across the entire footage shot.

I learned alot.


09 September 2002, 01:54 AM
Way to go guys. Vision takes time.... the only reason that I can think of for all of the bitching about how long it took is that these people have never done agency work. As someone who works regularly with ad agency and understands the minutia that art directors constantly harp about I think the timetable is quite reasonable. Especially considering the stellar results you achieved. The hair stands up on my neck every time I watch the commercial (particularly the final sequence) as I remember my own occasional feelings of wanting to break free from the confines that the world puts upon us all.

I do not agree with that assesment dude. I for one work with ad agencies and trust me when i say there are deadlines to meet. Like for example the block booking of the air-time, magazine gazettes... actually everything that is above the line. If your work is not completed by that time there are two alternatives 1) rerun an old ad or 2) there will be an empty space for that minute. Period. As i look at it, the dudes at CFC got a pretty good scheduler that maybe fought tooth and nails to get the timeframe to satisfaction!

So most of us bitch obout it because We do not have that reputation and that scheduler i suppose.

I suppose it all boils down to how one sell oneself.

09 September 2002, 02:04 AM
Yeah I think part of our so called "Bitching" is probably just cause we are jealous of the work schedul they had, I mean for me deadlines were always looming, and now finishing my owen film I was right on the edge of each deadline still, try to do the best you can, but oyu never have the time to sit there and just tweak and redo things, heck looking at my film here, there is a whole bunch I would redo if I could, but editing has to be finished this week thats the end of the story.

09 September 2002, 08:53 AM
Thanx for the kind words.

Let me tell you first of all that we usually work on much tighter deadlines than this. Not that there weren't any deadlines on Levi's. When we first delivered a full commercial it was for the benefit of "research" that the agency had scheduled. But the air date was always a lot further away. We didn't influence the air date decision in any way actually.

We have seen our work go from the 5-10 day deadlines (2-3 years ago) to anything from 3-4 weeks upwards depending on the projects scope and complexity. I think as a team we have shown a particular ability to do quite complex work successfully, working closely with directors and agency creatives, and that's what our clients come back for. So they trust our opinion on what is doable within the deadlines. It's very nice to have educated clients.

I know there are some less than perfect frames and shots in the commercial. I believe that they all work when in motion. But if you freeze frame through it you will find some. Not too many, I hope. Thanx for the break down. :)

The hair was actually warped "up" to make the illusion that she was running up a tree. A creative decision.

I think Andrew mentioned some of the implications of dealing with multiple "clients". The jeans weren't touched. We made sure that we could see them properly through the stuff. So to reiterate. We didn't create a real explosion, we created a very stylized, photoreal looking, explosion. Does that make sense.

The freaky tree stuff image (in the article) was actually a layout stage of the tree section. Figuring out where on the tree the actors would go. Where the camera should be. Where branches should roughly be.



09 September 2002, 10:23 AM
Hi Markus,

thanks you for taking the time to comment on my nitpicking.

I again wet through the clip this morning, finding more
*odd frames*. I guess one could argue about this forever...
...I won´t.

When I was refering to the look of the hair, I meant the
closeup shots inside the corridor. The way her real hair was
styled. A *studio glow* look wouldn´t have fit her role of course.
Worn out, exhausted/fatigue but commited does look sexy, too.

I bought most of the treesquences at first glance, exept for
the random *odd frames* where I found the masking of her hair
to have not quite enough transparency.
While I didn´t notice the warps...

Thanks again,


09 September 2002, 01:07 PM
thanks to all the replies from those involved. and damn, how many times did i wish for that LITTLE bit of extra time, only 2, 3 days, just to REALLY finish some production off, to get rid of all those tiny little bits that still bother you.

good job.

09 September 2002, 08:03 PM
I love this ad. I would make it ad of the year. 3D World also done a article on this. Has anyone seen the imatation ad, with the lilt ladies :p

09 September 2002, 11:59 PM
Let me add that with the overabundant amount of pop and techno music in commercials today, the classical music worked very nicely. It goes to show how timeless good music is.

Also, on a side note, can someone explain that ending to me. Are they running 'up' trees, or 'along' trees on the ground? It looks like it's up to me, but does that mean they just end up falling to the ground at the end?

09 September 2002, 12:05 AM
Know it's a little off topic, but is Dan Lavender working at Framestore CFC now? If so how's he doing?

09 September 2002, 06:08 AM
i love to see people take great time in detail and beauty...


09 September 2002, 10:51 PM
Wow. That was one HELL of a job, I must say!

However, I'm left wondering: was it worth it? Sure, these guys are talented, no doubt about it, and yes, they've thoroughly explained the reasons behind the timeframe, but seven months for sixty seconds of footage? It just seems....strange, I guess. I mean, can the cost be regained? Are people really gonna buy these pants because the commercial is cool/funny/unique?

Perhaps it's my inexperience/naiveté/ignorance/stupidity/rudeness talking, but do you really think anyone will NOTICE--let alone care about--the whole 'breaking free' theme?

It's a commercial for Levi's; anybody with half a brain realizes a pair of blue jeans isn't gonna lift you up to a new plane of existence, or free you from the confines of everyday life. It's a good looking commercial, it's a unique commercial, and it's fun to watch, but in the end, it's still just a commercial! Sixty seconds out of God-only-knows how many hours of television people watch on average.

Like I said earlier, wonderful--WONDERFUL--work; I could probably never even hope to do anything that good looking.

But this guy treating his idea for an interesting commercial as a work of art seems flat out pretentious. "Oh, you couldn't possibly understand my vision, you're not an artiste. This isn't just a commercial--this is art! The world is better for its existence!"

I imagine the Framestore CFC guys weren't the ones thinking like that; they didn't come up with the idea, they executed it (they executed it well, mind you). It's this Jonathan Glazer character who bugs me.

09 September 2002, 11:02 PM
Maybe the 'average Joe' won't figure out the whole breaking free them. But even in his dim brain, somewhere there will glimmer the little spark of "Levis = freedom". He will have an emotional response, probably something like the feeling of flying (well, that's what I and my girlfirend thought anyway), and then every time he sees a pair of Levis in the shop, a little bit of that feeling will come back and he'll have an inexplicable deisre to buy a new pair of jeans!

Well, that's the idea anyway. Me? I thought it was wicked, gave me the same sort of feeling I got first time I saw FOTR.

The execution of the commercial was incredible, and its impact had more to do with the direction (and especially the music), than with the CG (sorry Framestore, I still wanna work with you!). That said, the realisation of the concept would not have been possible without Framestore.

This was without a doubt one of the best commercials made, especially the full-length version seen in the cinema!

I bought some new jeans today. they were FCUK tho...:bounce:

09 September 2002, 09:31 AM
First I have to congratulate everyone working on this commercial for their excellent work.
Also I have to say that I immediately caught the breaking free theme of the commercial and that's the reason that I love this piece.
But I have some answers on thing that I don't really understand.

Mr Andrew Daffy says that previsualisation helped very much and that "Before pre-vis was introduced we found that we were often fixing plates that directors had shot, but now we can help ensure the final thing works before we even turn over."
I can't quite understand how pre vis helps this way. I know that previs can help you establish your shots and see if you have enough room to move around the studio.But I don't know how can you avoid the fixing plate phase.Did you use 3d camera tracking.By that I mean that you took the data from the 3d camera nad used it on a real camera.I don't think this is the case cause you said that all the movie was captured with handheld camera feeling. Please explain.

My second question is about the wall breaking.Framestore built a system that rotoscoped the characters on the plate and replaced them with the 3d colision models to help break the wall.The picture you provide for the collission model has some spheres around the body.The wall breaking starts when the spheres touch the 3d wall or when the 3d hand for example hits the wall? The spheres are for the program to know how big a hole should be in the wall?

And finally my 3rd question.Where did you replace the actors with 3d models?
How detailed they were.Can you give the polygon count for the 3d characters and for the trees?

Thank you very much for your time.I'm waiting for the answers impatiently...

PS: can somebody involved with the project post some higher res pictures of the making of pictures.(collision suite the wall, the trees etc.)

09 September 2002, 08:32 PM
Hi again.

I have some answers to some questions.
'Neil' asked are they going up or across at the end of the sequence?
They're meant to be going up. But was shot going along for creative reasons and (obvious) physical constraints. I felt that the runways that they made their way down should have had like a 20degree tilt so that their bodies would look a bit more uphill. but that created problems with photographing them. I felt whilst working on it that the camera and actors were a little horizontal, and therfeore showed Jonathan (the director) a version of the male actor launching 45degrees up by tilting the background plate. To me, he looked like he was launching like a rocket and had great impact, but Jonathan saw it and laughed!
yes 'playmesumch00ns', Dan Lavender is at FS-CFC. working on Dinotopia - TV series I believe. I bump into him in the cafe every now and again.
To Fnkymnky, asking 'if it was worth it'. I think yes, on many levels.
For me I find it hard to go back to shampoo science bits! now that I've been involved in something I consider more of a piece of film than a commercial. Why should something thats short have any less production values than that of something feature length? I was at Alton Towers last week and my favourite ride was Oblivion. It lasted about 40 seconds and I queued for hours!
Do people understand the concept? maybe... maybe not... but it provokes a reaction, and discussion and like all things are interpreted however the viewer decides to.
From feedback I've had, people have been really taken by it, sending 'goosebumps' down backs. I can't think of any other commercials that have a similar effect.
'But this guy treating his idea for an interesting commercial as a work of art seems flat out pretentious.' I think this is unfair. Jonathan is an inspiring visionary who makes beautiful films. I don't think that anywhere along the 60 seconds does he asks you to 'understand his vision'. And besides, this film is also the vision of the agency BBH who dreamt it up, and not forgetting Levi's who briefed them all. And finally, whats wrong with some 'art' on the telly for a change, with the reality TV shows, and endless gameshows with no production values, I encourage it!
'phobos' asked how does previz help 'fix plates' and also did we port data from our 3d camera to the real one...
By 'fixing plates' I mean we are often are so out of the loop before the post production stage that the plates we get back from shoots are often unusable. Directors film a plate which will have a CG person running with it will shoot the plate too slow, or they'll film a few empty plates wanting us to put in our dinosaurs. but we have to use differently scaled dinos shot for shot because the camera angle was too narrow etc etc.
No, it helped on Levis for the following reason. You know when you've got a shot in your head but then when you construct it in 3D it looks nothing like what you wanted it to be? well we had the same issues on Levis'. We added pigeon holes and exterior sections within the long shot (at the start of the ad) to avoid that 'neighbours' camera going around a set problem (that insidently 'is' apparent in the Lilt advert). Had it not been for the 3D experimental stage beforehand, pricey sets would have been built, and Jonathan on the first day of his 4 day shoot would have realised his 'hereo' shot wouldn't work.
No data was transfered onto the real camera, Jonathan would never allow such rigidity within a shot.
'phobos' also asked about the collision suit constructed of spheres, it was only the large spheres that broke down the wall, the roto character didn't do this job. Apparently, having larger surrounding 'collision' objects made the collision software more reliable.
'phobos' Where did you replace the actors with 3d models?
Throughout! They were useful for casting shadows and for being able to see the CGI explosion environment as a 3D space and not having to be reliant on 2D 'rotoscope'. Poly count for the roto characters at a guess 100 polys. Poly count for the trees? your guess is as good as mine!
I'm told we can't give out high res images. But I might be able to sneak some onto my personal website soon... (

09 September 2002, 08:49 PM
Thank you very much Mr Daffy you cleared things up for everyone!
Hope your feauture work will have more commercials of this kind.
Hoping for the images also :)
Thanks and congratulations again.

09 September 2002, 10:08 PM
Hi Andrew,

the one thing that really really bugs me about all this is your age.
26 years...


P.S: Seems FS-CFC is a good place to stay for a couple of years:-)

09 September 2002, 09:46 AM
at the moment, it feels like 26 going on 45!:annoyed:

09 September 2002, 10:30 AM
While Daffy is getting older by the minute... his birthday was just a short while ago... I will explain some stuff in more detail.

Like Daffy said yhe collision suite was attached to our digital rotoscope actor to provide a collision suite, the Michellin Man look, and the spheres make the collision detection more reliable. How that works is that a sphere has easy math for us to figure out if something is inside or outside the "bounding box" of it (in mel). Every wall piece (which was pre-broken) had a particle it was constrained to (in the middle of the wall piece). Since each wall piece was of certain size and thickness we made the collision suite bigger than the digital actor to account for the distance for the collision to actually take place, away from the body. Otherwise we would have had wall piece penetrating the surface of the actor.

The tree poly count. Hmm. Since we cheated the details of the tree by using a procedural approach (Maya Painter Effects), the actual count was much higer "at render time" than in the scene. All the small branches and leaves were done in PFX, while the trunk and the larger branches were modeled as NURBS surfaces. I can look for a count. I know we have it somewhere.

And yes, Framestore CFC is a great place to hand around!! :)

Cheers, Markus

09 September 2002, 11:04 AM
Markus... why aren't you at work? :curious:

09 September 2002, 11:09 AM
I had a drink or two yesterday to get me over the fact that
you guys have done more high profile jobs than I did.
the ratio is somewhere around 100:2 ...and climbing :-)

I have another, more general question. You´ve mentioned
in the article that Maya was used for rendering most layers.
I´d be more than grateful if you could share some tricks for
achieving photorealism via materials and lighting in Maya.

To be useful this would probably mean to share *well kept*
secrets, break NDA´s by the dozen and loose your job.
But hey, no one gets old in this industry :-)

I know there´s GI and such, but I mean the more traditional
craftmanship of setting up and lighting a scene.
Anything *topsecret* you´re allowed to share ?


P.S: I´ll have some more drinks tonight, just to get over the
horrible fact that Framestore-CFC is also a nice place to hang around. Nice people, nice place, cool jobs, a cafe.
Stop haunting me:-)

09 September 2002, 03:18 PM
Hi, lovely work, but can you just ask them if they know Max Tyrie? I went to University (well, Art College) with him. last I heard, he was Lead Animator on Walking with Beasts (BBC)

Dave Clements


09 September 2002, 06:45 AM
congratulations for the men that made it, it's really a lovely job.

09 September 2002, 01:23 AM
Nice effect, I love jean and the earth......:applause: :applause:

10 October 2002, 06:06 AM
damn cool spot......:applause:

02 February 2005, 09:50 PM
Ok - so I'm about 3yrs behind here. Until yesterday I had never seen this commercial. I stumbled upon it after following a link [in a mograph forum] to an inspirational piece called Pollinate from Belief Studios -

In this QT they showed two versions of Levi's Odyssey, one that had an alternate audio track [an edited version of Filter's "You Walk Away"], and the one that aired. I have to say that after seeing the alternate version I was left stunned - it blew me away [and gave me goosbumps]. I watched it over and over again. At that point, the second version [the one that actually aired] just seemed wrong to me. Contrast is great [in this case, the contrast between the symphony music and the rawness of smashing through walls], but having been spoiled by the first version, the contrast just seemed awkward and not as true to the emotion of the spot.

So, my question is this: was the spot originally intended [by Jonathan Glazer, the Levi's people, Framestore, or whoever the brainchild was for this] to have an aggressive soundtrack? To me, it seems like it was - but that's why I'm asking.

At what point in the proccess was the soundtrack considered [and subsequently selected], and how many choices were presented?

Thanks in advance for shedding some light on this.

02 February 2005, 01:59 AM

I am sorry to say that I can't remember the exact tosses and turns when it came to the sound track for the spot. Way back in my mind I think I remember a different tune as the one we used as an early template for the spot.

The sound track is something that director and agency deals with so I can't say what happened, cause I don't know. It's a process that's both driven by taste, cost or availability of sound track. There's usually a wish list.

But again, I don't remember the specifics. Jonathan was a very strong driver when it came to defining the pace of the commercial so I am sure he had a lot of input into the sound track.

Sorry, it was too long ago.
Maybe Daffy remembers more details, if he is still on this thread. Neither one of us is still at Framestore CFC so we can't find out details from others either.


02 February 2005, 02:00 AM
Wow this thread brings back memories :)

Hey Markus remember the cherry margharitas and the mexican band? :)

03 March 2005, 05:44 PM
I certainly do... is your face still fuzzy looking, and say hi to your twin brother! ;)

Ahhh, memories.

03 March 2005, 08:07 PM
I wasnt aware of this site back when I saw this commercial on the TV. Great reading up on it now to find out about all the work that went into it. FCFC have churned out some quality commercials over the years, I think the Guiness 'surfer' and 'dreamer' ads were the first to make me sit up and take notice. Fantastic.

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