Deluxe's Method Studios' new Sydney VFX unit helps launch RAMS' new TVC via AJF Partnership

RAM (1).jpgRAMS Home Loans, AJF and Photoplay have recently partnered with Deluxe's Method Studios' new VFX unit in Sydney to produce the latest instalment of RAMS Home Loans TVC featuring beloved character Raymond the Ram in a new spot "Greater Together".

Says Brenden Johnson, general manager, Method Sydney: "We thoroughly enjoyed working closely with Scott Otto Anderson from Photoplay on the new approach for this execution of the campaign."

VIEW THE SPOT
Says Chris Breeze, animation director, Method: "The brief was to bring Raymond into 2016 with a bit of a facelift and update, with that special care was given through human motion studies, to convey the emotive character Raymond had to play throughout the spot. The key was in getting balance of the actual physicality and constraints of a ram, and the more fluid gesturing of a human."
 
An on-set actor was used to provide an interactive Raymond performance on the day. Live data was then used in Method's facial tracking pipeline to capture key expressions. This information augmented the 3D animated facial rig animated for each scene to uniquely provide subtle human nuances and gestures. Method lighting and compositing teams then worked to seamlessly integrate Raymond into the various shot environments, blending CG onto background plates, and ensuring subtle features such as breath, light play on the character, and interaction with the environment to ground the Raymond character into the real world. 

Says Johnson: "Since launching Method's VFX offering late last year, our talented team in Sydney has been in high demand not just for commercials but a whole range of creative content including VR. The RAMS project in particular required us to deploy our creative and technical solutions out-of-house and on-set. Dropping mobile VFX and post solutions on-set, or indeed in Production offices or Agency is becoming the new norm for us and this new way of working allows us to expedite creative conversations much more efficiently than the traditional facility model."

Method is fully owned and operated by Deluxe Entertainment Services Group. Deluxe recently launched Deluxe, VR a new VR services business unit at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas.

Says John Wallace, CEO, Deluxe: "The way audiences and enterprises can experience media is evolving, and we have evolved our approach to production and post so that clients can create whatever they envision. We've invested heavily in laying a strong technical foundation for our proprietary VR workflows and in building a dedicated VR team, with the ability to leverage the artistic and technical talent of Deluxe companies worldwide, to handle projects of any complexity and scale."

Deluxe VR provides end-to-end and a la carte VR production and post-production services across all VR platforms, including creating real-time and pre-rendered CG content as well as 360° live-action video. In addition to the dedicated team, Deluxe VR will leverage the talent of more than 3,000 artists worldwide across Deluxe studios, including Company 3, Method Studios, StereoD, Rushes, and Iloura. Deluxe VR provides content services with incredible scale, taking advantage of proprietary patent-pending processes that further streamline workflows for VR content production, post-production, and delivery.

Entertainment industry veteran Malte Wagener, who has moved from his VP role at Method Studios and Company 3, will lead Deluxe VR, with long-time VFX R&D director Peter Shipkov heading engineering and PJ Nachman leading business development efforts for the company.

12 Comments

DK said:

Great spot for a brand like RAMS, always a tricky brief for that type of client. The story is a bit of Karate Kid inspired fun, well executed guys.

An admiring ewe... said:

Raymond is looking sexier in his old age! Good to see a spring in his step..

Raymond of Sunshine said:

Could have used a few more lens flares.

Butting Heads said:

Not than anyone's going to care much, it's a RAMS ad after all, but compared to the previius CG work on Raymond from Animal, this is one big step down and to the rear, in modeling, in animation (a bit stiff and mechanical, no? Raymond Robot?), in lighting, in general the muzzle looks downright plastic, but truthfully, the CG isn't really the issue with this work.

The writing is just awful, with a silly but curiously unfunny bit of business working backward from a client mandated story about home purchasing to this struggling attempt at comedy.

The topper, or bottomer, however, is the execution. Casting and performance give wooden new meaning, and there's nary a laugh in the barrel.

Look, a Ram as a human voiced spokesperson is absurd on its face, so why not go full metal farce? Middleditch to the rescue I reckon with some vintage theatre of the absurd, if the client would accept it, or if the agency would even notice that it needed help.

Copy Desk said:

@Butting Heads

Someone put a sad face on your latte this morning? Because it sounds like you're driving around grumpy town looking for a place to park.

Let's take a breath, put some those adjectives back in the toybox and relax the grip on that technical-production-values rattle you're shaking.

There comes a point where critique of someone else's work becomes farcical, because of an opinion so devoid of balance as to render it irrelevant.

You might not like the spot, but chances are the intended audience will. The ability to put yourself in their shoes is called empathy, and it's hard to do ads without it.

I had nothing at all to do with this spot. I saw it for the first time just then. It's a spot where Raymond the Rams ram gets his Miyagi on to help a couple train up to buy the house they want. Simple.

There's some fun retro stuff in there, a couple of gags, rain, and bidding paddle things. I get it. Everyone else will get it too. A lot of people who aren't you will also think it's funny, and that will make them like the brand a bit more. Job done. Time to move on.

Your long, detailed rant is just a big drainer. Big drainer. Just a big arse, rainy-day, hate-my-life drainer. Doesn't add to the discussion. Doesn't make anyone feel better. Is utterly unconvincing on account of its inexplicable bile.

I'm sure the spots you work on are all fully realised, and you are of course lucky to be able to afford Middleditch. Life has indeed smiled on you. But maybe just lower your weapon a smidge, soldier. We're all on the same side.

Raymond of Sunshine said:

Dear Butting Heads aka Mr Masterton

While we embrace negativity for venting's sake, you didn't mention the fact that the grade is inconsistent, there is that weird graphic eyeball thingy in the middle for seemingly no reason (but it must hark back to a nod to some form of movie just like the Gump Pong trick)

Overall, the PR is an excuse to let us all know that Method / Deluxe and the 37 other companies in the group are all ready for VR without this actually being a VR execution. We now know that if anyone can manage to convince a client that they should get the gig by adding a VR piece along side the main TVC that you can go to Method and they will sort it out. No doubt they could as could many others, but it's just the post buzz word of the moment. Google cardboard is the 20th centuries adaptation of the view master while less than 0.5% of the population will actually have a headset such as a Vive.

And what of the 'old Method VFX unit in Sydney' ? (See title)
Did they not do VFX before ? Is that not the one at the Wharf ?

During your 'I lost the pitch and now I've seen it rant' you also didn't mention the line from the Method GM of "....much more efficiently than the traditional facility model" and question that sentence's meaning or the validity of a claim that a post facility is in fact not a facility at all. I'd say that's a clue that the Wharf is moving to the North.

Budgetary speaking, it's not wise to engage the muzzle of your disgruntled director as that costs too much in time in rehab and septum surgery.

I completely agree that the animation isn't the fluid mix of a Ovis aries quadruped and that of a Homo sapien biped as the text suggested would be the case and I was excited to see. Even the older Raymond on the shelf in between the cereal packets had a bit more fluidity.

Little Leprechaun said:

Embarrassing. Did Photoplay honestly did this?

Raymond said:

Oh dear!

@Copydesk (aka) Agency Apologist said:

It's a sure bet when a commenter on the blog feels the need to announce that they don't have a dog in the hunt, have no relatives on the agency or production teams, and have only just seen the work, so they're, how shall we say 'super objective' (insert a wink and a nod, just like Rainman), that they are actually being paid some version of a salary to monitor social media for PR/Client/Agency/et. al.

Gotta luv the effort though, putting out the 'it's not really all that bad, and besides we had no money, and the consumer expects nothing from this brand, so please be nicer in public and don't point out the obvious that this was sh$te all around" apologia/counter attack.

Just a thought but your comment might do better as boilerplate for social media monitors. That could actually sell.

@Raymond of Sunshine (aka Borderline Intelligible) said:

???

Interesting, we think, but probably better in the original German.

Vr Blah said:

Nothing special, method have had the ram for over twelve months.

Everyones doing VR, what I want to know is who's cheapest?

and if method are moving north as someones suggested, why is it called deluxe vr and not method vr? is method still around??

Copy Desk said:

@thatguythatsaidstuffatme

I'd love to say something like 'yep, you got me, tiger' or 'OMG are you like the mentalist or something?', but you didn't, and you're not.

Great thought though, and it's fun to see someone having a go at the person who had a go at the guy who had a go at the spot. Very meta, and to be honest, welcome entertainment after a pretty grim afternoon.

The truth is, when someone's really sticking the boot in over nothing, it's not such a radical thought that some other person might feel moved to say something about how unmeasured that boot sticking is.

I do like the idea of being some smirking media guy paid to lurk on social media threads and anonymously advocate for people who pay me money. It sounds sort of exciting and subversive. But I'm not. I'm just some poor shmo on a deadline trying to distract myself. Probably like you are.

Thanks for the tip about using the copy as a standard form of response for media monitors. Compliment accepted.

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