Framestore has collaborated with advertising agency Leo Burnett and McDonald’s on the brand’s new McCafé commercials. The complex film, 'We Could' is directed by ‘Us’ and has been created as a 60-second film with two 30-second cutdowns. It gives viewers all of the possible ads that McDonald’s could have created for its McCafé range by presenting a collection of hyper-stylised vignettes.
Directed by Us, the duo from Academy, the film features seven distinct sequences, each representing an advertising trope with its own tongue-in-cheek, exaggerated style. It presents an ethereally-lit rainforest with three ‘conveniently-placed sacks of coffee’, some catalogue models smelling the aroma from their cups of coffee and coffee bean meteors flying through empty space. A coffee artisan then experiments with lab equipment and interpretive dancers perform a physical representation of McDonald’s McCafé. The commercial comes to an epic climax with a blockbuster sequence where a heroic Napoleonic figure discovers a cup of coffee in a chest.
‘The multi-sequence nature of this commercial made it a really interesting project for Framestore and one that we enjoyed working on with Leo Burnett and Us, providing guidance on how we could achieve the directors’ vision,’ said Ben Cronin, creative director at Framestore. ‘The brilliant ideas from Leo Burnett for McDonald's means our work is visually creative and this is a relationship we’re so pleased to have developed as we’ve worked on our last few projects together.’
‘The complexity of all the moving parts of this film meant it was like creating seven ads all at the same time,’ said Darran Nicholson, senior flame artist at Framestore. ‘Bringing all this together into a single coherent film was a big job and the entire crew worked well together to create something really conceptually and visually interesting.’
With so many distinct parts to it, Framestore’s work was varied on the 60-second film. Its job was to deliver seamless VFX and polish parts of the film to achieve the directors’ vision and it achieved this through several roles including compositing a butterfly and enhancing the rays of light in the rainforest scene.
‘The biggest job we did was on the Master and Commander-esque sequence,’ added Nicholson. ‘Here, we had to remove and replace entire backgrounds and skies because the boat wasn’t on water. And the directors had a really clear idea of how they wanted this sequence to look so we created several layers of sea mist and placed different characters behind each. It was important that the hero was left untouched by the fog, something that resulted in an epic sequence.’
As far as the colour grade went, each vignette had to have a very different look - almost like the viewer is flicking through TV channels. ‘My task was to come up with individual looks that each acted as a nod to the particular styles being referenced but make sure it all flowed as one commercial,’ added Simon Bourne, senior colour artist at Framestore. ‘The napoleonic sequence was the most challenging because there were several ways we could have approached it, but we decided on a Master and Commander style. Then I had to design styles akin to a National Geographic programme, an art piece and deep space look.’
The relationship between Framestore and Leo Burnett is one that now spans several projects including the #ReindeerReady McDonald’s Christmas campaign on which the Framestore team delivered technically-complex visuals with warmth and emotion. The continuation of that relationship in 'We Could' displays the versatility of the creative studio’s team as one that can address the multiple challenges that were presented by each of the film’s vignettes.