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How Gramercy Park Studios Revived Paul the Octopus

Creative 528 Add to collection

Gramercy completes Post & Sound for Eye-catching commercial

How Gramercy Park Studios Revived Paul the Octopus
Gramercy Park Studios, a leading provider of creative production, post production and digital services, has worked with WCRS to produce an eye-catching and CGI-rich 30-second TV commercial, This is Play, to promote Betfair’s sponsorship of ITV’s World Cup coverage. Directed by Walter Stern (The Prodigy, The Verve and Massive Attack) and produced by Academy Films, the creative spot centres on a heroic and multi-talented CGI octopus playing four simultaneous games of table tennis.

Following an extensive research and planning process to assess the feasibility of bringing Stern’s ambitious vision to life, the Academy, WCRS and Gramercy Park Studios teams decamped to Latvia for a one-week shoot. The team then collaborated closely to storyboard, develop and build CGI models of the octopus and sports stadium.


“This campaign was a brave one for all involved. One in which the client, advertising agency and production agency all needed to knit together seamlessly. Trust was paramount and we had full trust in the expertise of Gramercy Park Studios. With amazing creative, technical and account skills, Gramercy Park Studios helped us create our most memorable and vital campaign to date,” said Emer McCarthy, Betfair brand senior manager.

To be able to meet the extremely challenging three-week deadline, Gramercy Park Studios made full use of its proprietary visual collaboration workflow pipeline. This enabled the client and production staff to quality control, keep track of, and manage, every stage of the project across the entire post-production chain – from pre-viz, 2D and CGI to visual effects, sound design and grading – saving valuable time and generating huge production efficiencies.

Seamless collaboration between the creative and production teams was critical to the success of the project. While on set in Latvia, the remote vfx pipeline enabled the pre-viz team to send back clips on-the-fly for the London-based CGI artists to immediately start animating and rendering. The Octopus was designed and built in Maya and the 3D stadium was built by the 3D team prior to the shoot entirely in Flame using simple geometry blocks so that it could be decided how best to shoot the extras available. The crowd was created using the 100 extras shot in the studio in Latvia and then replicated to fill out the stadium. This was achieved by rendering out 4K plates of crowd grids which were then wrapped around 3D cards so that full interactivity could be maintained at all times whilst still being incredibly detailed. Gramercy Park Studios also graded the spot with a Baselight.

Richard Ireland, managing director at Gramercy Park Studios, said: “This ambitious project showcases what can be achieved in such a short timeframe when the creative and production process are decoupled to enable workflow efficiencies. We have the talent and expertise to bring all the elements of this campaign to life, and our in-house visual collaboration system gave us the flexibility to manage all the assets and at a glance go back to previous versions if the client needed to. This way of working gives everyone total transparency and visibility. And it ultimately speeds up the production process so we can spend more time focusing on the creative and making the commercial look visually stunning.”

A longstanding client of Gramercy Park Studios, the campaign is Betfair’s biggest to date. Set to run during ITV’s World Cup coverage as part of Betfair’s gold partnership deal, the commercial is the first in a series the facility has created.
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Genres: Animation, Visual VFX

Gramercy Park Studios, Fri, 06 Jun 2014 13:14:40 GMT