Framestore adds the VFXmas magic for Argos Christmas campaign

Member News  |  03 November 2020

High street giant Argos turned to Framestore to help bring the magic to its exciting festive 2020 Christmas commercial directed by James Rouse, a director who has a long-standing and successful relationship with the creative studio.

Abracadaisy and the Astounding Lucy – Argos – Images courtesy of Framestore.

The campaign film sees Framestore deliver some VFX tricks to heighten an already-magical commercial, creating a series of seamless magic tricks and enhancing the set transformation from a family’s living room to a luxury theatre.

Devised by advertising agency The &Partnershipthe film sees two children’s sorcery skills’ blossom after they ask for a magic set from the Argos Book of Dreams. Framestore provided the VFX sparkle that helped Abracadaisy and the Incredible Lucy magic mince pies out of thin air, perform a trick with their dog and even turn a family member into a theatre employee selling concessions.

William Bartlett, VFX Supervisor, recorded himself performing VFX-enhanced magic tricks to show Rouse how convincing the tricks could look if they were digitally-augmented. The fantastical elements of the film needed to shine while still looking natural as Daisy and Lucy master their craft and perform more and more elaborate feats. Having worked out how the different tricks would be created in post-production, William went on set to advise on the VFX, working closely with Rouse.

‘The biggest challenge we had was just the amount of work that needed to be delivered in a quick turnaround. The team worked on almost all of the commercial’s shots so it was a really great team effort.’

Puff Pisanwalerd, 2D Lead, Framestore.
Abracadaisy and the Astounding Lucy – Argos – Images courtesy of Framestore.

To help the living room transform into an elaborate theatre before the audiences’ very eyes, Framestore created an incredibly-detailed CG set extension which can be seen as the audience gives the magicians a standing ovation. 

Framestore was able to take a LiDAR scan of the impressively-constructed physical sets, the information from which was used to replicate the sets’ textures and styles to create the digital extension that complemented the fantastical look and feel achieved by Rouse’s in-camera work.

The team also designed and incorporated additional digital elements into the theatre such as lamps, lights, chandeliers and the neon sign that appears at the back of the stage. Even these elements that comprised so many meticulously-detailed assets had to work in tandem with the film’s overall aesthetic, selling the concept and the idea rather than trying to out-shine what was captured on location.

‘It was important that we added just the right amount of VFX flourishes to realise James’ vision of these two girls becoming increasingly brilliant magicians. The early tests we did and the scans we were able to take from the set were really key in everything coming together the way it has. It’s a really lovely film and I enjoyed being a part of it.’

William Bartlett, VFX Supervisor at Framestore

The final edit is complemented by a colour grade performed by Simon Bourne which is rich and vibrant and adds an extra element of magic to what’s already an incredibly engaging Christmas ad.  

‘We love working with James Rouse. His storytelling and performances are always exceptional and coupled with ambitious and beautiful visuals. Our team excelled on this project and I can’t wait to see the reaction to it now it’s out in the wider world.’ 

Helen Hughes, Head of Advertising at Framestore
Abracadaisy and the Astounding Lucy – Argos – Images courtesy of Framestore.

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Agency: The & Partners London
ECD: Yan Elliot
Creative team: Matt Wood & Tom Loveless
Head of Integrated Production: Charles Crisp
Agency Producer: Andy Roberts
Managing Director: Gary Simmons
Senior Account Director: Lucy Almond

Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Producer: Benji Howell
Production Manager: Tim Steele
Director of Photography: Antonio Paladino

VFX and Colour: Framestore
VFX Supervisor: William Bartlett
2D lead: Saruta Puff Pisanwalerd
3D lead: Adam Smith

3D artists:
Tim Gregson 
Erik Weaver-Pronk
Henrique Campanha
Muzaffer Korkut
Timothee Maron
David Cattermole
Thomas Ashby

2D artists:
Sherrine Byfield
Ollie Bersey 
Owen Braekke-Carroll
Raphael Beyaert
Suzanne Jandu

Paint and roto: Grzegorz Zolnowski
Flame: Andrew Salter
Colourist: Simon Bourne

EP: Helen Hughes
Producer: Sian Jenkins
Producer: Alexia Paterson
Prod co-ordinator: Emma Hughes

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