The new 30 sec spot for Visa Card, narrated by the maverick psychic investigator Lance Hendrickson, the star of the popular TV series Millennium, is a playful stylish parody of popular culture's obsession with "unexplained phenomena". The spot, directed by Luscious International's Richard Gibson, called upon Fuel International to design a commercial that referenced the TV genre and create a unique, futuristic vision. To this end the commercial makes great use of live action (doco style commentary to camera) inter-cut with computer simulation sequences, digital wipes, computer typography and finally scenes, as strange as any Dali landscape, of raining fish.
Visual effects supervisor, Paul Butterworth explains, "The challenge lay in achieving a futuristic edge to today's technology, existing technology like Global Positioning Systems but obviously enhanced 10 or 20 years into the future". Fuel's Dave Morley, who created the computer storm simulation sequence, actually looked at a number of existing programs used by scientists and meteorologists for reference; then applying the technology and programming principals to create "a virtual storm". The digital palate was further reinforced by the use of surveillance style footage, floating computer imagery, markers and digital transitions, reminiscent of the Terminator films.
The "unexplained phenomena" spot represents another win for Clemenger BBDO in their campaign for Visa in the Asia Pacific region, a campaign that has been marked by a fresh, funny and very sophisticated approach.
Shot entirely on location in Sydney Australia, the spot utilises harbour side locations in recreating the English seaside port. It was then up to Fuelto create, animate and composite the CGI components into the scenes which included lighthouse, rain, atmosphere and 1000's of fish falling, impacting and writhing about. The foreground plates were filmed in studio, the thrashing fish simulated by expert puppeteers.
Then layers of background fish falling into shot had to be modelled in 3D, applying photographic textures, and animated to interact with the rain. A program was written to enable the Fuel animator to 'attach' the fish to rain particles and wed the elements together. Up to 8-10 layers of the animated fish were created for each shot and then composited in Flame. A steely blue grade was applied throughout and balanced in Flame to give the spot its stormy and enigmatic look.