'Get Back On Track'


Getting Back on Track with the new Senokot campaign from Havas x Unit 9….

Unit 9 Director, Cole Paviour delivers this dynamic new spot for RB brand Senokot. The film centres around an evening runner in a park suffering from constipation who suddenly turns to stone, weighed down by the sensations and uncomfortable feeling. As night becomes day, she suddenly breaks free from the heavy confines of her statue form and resumes her daily life.

Creatives Chico and Diogo from Havas knew from the very the start that this job was not an easy task for the CGI team. They remember asking for the “statue of our main character to be as realistic as it could be and to have a worn-out and organic texture to it…luckily we had some CGI Michelangelo’s in James’ CG team. Big kudos especially to Huggy, Matt, Dan and Craig. They not only presented to us fully developed research of all sorts of statues possibilities, but they took us by the hand on the entire dynamic of how the whole animation would work.

In terms of final comp and finish, the agency were fully appreciative of the almost ‘invisible’ work that inevitably continues in the background to make everything as seamless as possible, Chico and Diogo praised “Scott, Tom and Phil…who definitely shined in sculpting every imperfection and realistic detail on each shot and to ensure we achieved the sensation we were looking for so thanks guys for taking care of our visual OCD and making the film brilliant”.

CG Lead at Absolute, Huggy Stephens says “this spot had a really beautiful aesthetic from the very early stages, the concept was very strong and offered the team a lot freedom to focus on finding the most suitable techniques to achieve the best outcomes. One of the challenges was to achieve a realistic reimagining of our hero as a park statue.”

This was achieved in a few different ways, firstly we captured a full body scan of our runner using a technique called 'Photogrammetry'. This involved around a hundred cameras in an array, capturing our hero from every possible angle, which resulted in a high resolution, high detail model. Huggy explains that ‘the beauty of a scanned model is that it has lots of little intricacies that either a 3D modeller wouldn't add or would take much longer to include at the same level….”

After we received our newly scanned model, Dan and the team began work on the 'retopology' stage. This stage enabled us to reduce the overall polygon count of our model, meaning it can then be rigged, animated and textured - the remaining details lost in the retopology stage were reapplied using various mapping techniques.

One of the biggest challenges to this job was in achieving a realistic communion between live action and the CG through creating lighting setups in CG to match the real-world environment. The way around this was to have several VFX Supervisors on the shoot collecting hundreds of photos and pieces of data reference so that we could document the exact lighting conditions of each scenario, setup and location. This was the task of Creative Director James Coore and 2D Lead Artist Scott Simmonds, who spent two days on location doing exactly this, using Macbeth charts, grey and silver balls as well as 360-degree HDRI photography referencing.

The effects on Senokot is where we really got to bring the statue transformation sequence to life. For example, with the growth sequence, we built a complex growth set-up initially on the static model and then deformed this after with roto animation. The growth set up allowed us to grow from multiple input points and also control the flow, direction and speed, giving us full creative direction.

On top of this we also added several layers of dust and debris elements to help with the realism and also the compositing. The arm crack was created in a way that allowed us to draw the shape of the crack with a curve and generate fractured geometry from this curve, offering us full control over the shape and width along it. The crack was then supplemented in Nuke with secondary hairline fractures to add more detail and complexity.

The final shot was a tough technical challenge as the model was hollow, very complex and concave. We had some roto animation that drove the main impact of the breakout as well as a complex glue system and crumble set-up which allowed for certain areas to crumble before the main impact breakout moment.

Matt Turner gave everything a final flourish in grade before we delivered so that each element was considered and balanced in terms of colour and continuity. Always an enjoyable moment in the post process, Chico and Diogo said that “no matter how many films we’ve made, the grade of a film always surprises us. It really feels like the room where the vision of a film comes together and, in this case, entering Matt’s grading suite and watching the final graded film, definitely made us feel like that Cinema Paradiso kid, watching movies for the first time…”.

It was a true collaboration of skillsets across the company because the music composition was expertly handled by the very talented Joe Worters @Blind Pig for all versions and he comments, "What does relief sound like? Gently building woodwinds and strings, combined with some subtle dreamy bells and electric pianos. That's what relief sounds like."

Working on this with Geoff and Cole @ Unit 9 and Joe, Charlotte, Nikki, Dave, Chico and Diogo from Havas was a fantastic and very satisfying collaboration; it was so much fun presenting our revised statue each week and seeing the way she developed and transformed and brought the sequence to life!

Director: Cole Paviour
Production Company: Unit9
Producer: Geoff Stickler

Agency: Havas London
RB Global Executive Creative Director & Creative Partner: Elliot Harris
Creative Director: Dave Mygind
Art Director: Chico Barrera
Copywriter: Diogo Abrantes
Producer: Joseph Ogunmokun
Assistant Producer: Nikola Oksiutycz
Business Director: Anne Puech
Account Director: Matt Ramage
Account Manager: Ella Bilham

Editor: Cole Paviour

Music Composer: Joe Worters at Blind Pig
Sound Engineer: Joe Marsden at Absolute

Post-Production: Absolute Post
Colour: Matt Turner
CG Leads: Huggy Stephens, Dan Baiton, Craig Healy
2D Lead: Scott Simmonds
CG Artists: Matt Burn
FX Lead: Craig Healy
FX Artist : Ameen Abbas 
2D Artists: Phil Oldham, Tom Clapp, Lucas Warren, Chris Tobin
Creative Director: James Coore
Exec Producer: Jenna Le Noury
Production Assistant: Ava Millard