Johnnie Walker

Rock Giant

Keep Walking, Brazil

Sugar Loaf Mountain is more than just a monolithic morro of granite and quartz. In NEOGAMA/BBH's new commercial for Johnnie Walker, Director Peter Thwaites and The Mill NY make the historic rock come to life in the form of a lumbering giant.

Based on the brand positioning "KEEP WALKING," the new campaign featuring "Rock Giant" has the same grand, iconic style of the globally famous commercials of the brand. The idea was inspired by Brazil's growth and its importance in the global economy.

"The rock giant project was right up our street," says The Mill NY's Executive Creative Director Angus Kneale. "We got heavily involved in the production from the beginning. At the shoot In Brazil, we shot high-speed footage of an actor buried under mountains of earth and rock that later proved invaluable for timing and reference. We wanted to create something epic, something mesmerizing in its scale and complexity. Our giant had to feel powerful, yet wise and noble.

"Conceptualizing the giant started well before the project was awarded," Kneale continues, "as the giant's design would drive the whole project. We had a range of artists-from traditional sculptors to concept illustrators-bring him to life."

Lead 3D Artist Rob Petrie expounds on the rock giant's design process: "We spent several weeks with a concept designer, as well as a few 3D artists, to develop the scale, proportion and look of the giant. The articulation was a major factor in the design itself, as we were limited to how much movement he could have and still be believable and be a part of this world."

Lead 3D Artist Vince Baertsoen set up the whole pipeline around the render engine Arnold. "It allowed us to render millions of trees and debris in a fraction of the usual time," he explains.

The realism of the trees is among "Rock Giant's" most captivating visual effects. Baertsoen says, "It was especially exciting to work on the trees. I wrote a system that made them react to the giant's movements, and the trees also break and shed leaves when hit by the boulders and rocks."

"Combining real-life effects with animated CG elements is what makes the giant come to life," says Lead Compositor Gavin Wellsman. "We animated the hero boulders by hand and combined them with live action dust and debris which really makes it feel authentic. I think what made this project run so smoothly was having all 25 people on the team, including the producer, sitting together in a project suite. "

- The Mill

VFX Breakdown


October, 2011

Senior Compositor

Peter Thwaites