BENT Director, Carlos Lascano, Discusses the Making of a Milestone  
Every once in a while I enjoy working on something that drifts away from what I usually do. When the opportunity to direct this spot arose, the first thing that caught my attention was the script: I particularly enjoyed the madness of the story and the craziness of the characters.
 
I also liked the idea and the challenge of inventing so many unique characters, especially the main one! When the agency asked to create an image for the “Spirit of the Euro”, the first thing that came to my mind was... How the hell do you draw a spirit?
So, we decided to move away from the “concept” of a spirit and went the opposite way: something tangible, real, and a bit absurd.
above - A bouncer for a club is filled with Coke Spirit and bear hugs some kids.
below-Elderly handicapped people dance and jump as Coke Spirit fills the sky.
I have been working with Bent Image Lab for a few years. They’re not only a great team of collaborators, but also a great team of people. Our artistic connection goes beyond a purely technical approach to projects
“With these spots, I needed the production to keep an open mind to experimentation.”
My proposal was technically very demanding, since it required the use of real eyes on 3D characters with massive head rotations and a wide range of expressions. In addition to all this, we were working in stereoscopic 3D, which was new to me. This forced me to consider space and camera location in a completely different way than I would have if working with the process I was used to
 
Since there was a lot of experimentation to do, I also needed the will to go through some trial-and-error process, which I knew would demand long working hours. Luckily, Ray Di Carlo (Bent’s Exec. Producer/Founding Partner) and I share that work philosophy, which is not easy to find in a production company, let alone when approaching a commercial with a very tight deadline. I think that says enough of how great it is to work with people that love what they do, and whose main concern is to be creative and to achieve a high quality product, by always pushing their standards higher and higher.
 
The host countries of the 2012 Euro Cup are Poland and Ukraine, so the backgrounds were strongly influenced by their architecture. However, the idea was to create a freer version and conceive of an environment that was magic and unreal, giving a sense of timelessness
left: A sketch of a vintage Polish skyline.
above: A handdrawn rendering of Ukranian architecture.
 
 
EYES, THE WINDOW TO THE SOUL  
There is a saying that goes that eyes are windows to the soul. By using real eyes I am not only animating these characters, I am also providing them with a soul.
 
This technique, that I have been developing for the last few years, gives me the chance to work with actors and the intention of their gestures. There is a wide range of small ocular moves that cannot be achieved in animation.  It is also a fun  process that animation doesn’t include.
The shooting of the eyes is one of the most fun and challenging aspects of the process. Even if I have been working with this technique for years, I still discover new ways to approach it in every new project I face.
Every character in the spot had a short time on screen, so I had to achieve an immediate connection between them and the viewer. By using real eyes, a quick and simple glimpse can transmit much more than the most perfect 3D eyes.
THE REAL THING
The integration of real elements in animation is part of the experimentation process I have been carrying out for the last few years, and it is already almost a characteristic feature of my work.
I always enjoy forcing myself into accepting technical challenges that will help achieve a certain visual effect. Most times, I end up discovering the best way is usually the simplest. There were many options we could use to try to digitally emulate the Coke inside the bottles but it would not look like as we were intending it to. And I thought... why don’t just use the real thing? I think it is important that in a commercial, the product you’re intending to sale remains as close as possible to its original version, within a context that highlights it. And I think in this case, the use of real Coke resulted in a much better visual effect.
CG Bottles Containing Real Coke
THE CHALLENGES
The biggest challenge was definitely to create the character of the Spirit of the Euro. We needed a transgressor character that would break all the molds but, at the same time, we needed him to have a certain “charm” that would capture the viewers’ attention.
Hairstyle Options for "Spirit"
Another challenge was to introduce different situations and scenarios having only a few seconds for each one. That is a typical limitation we face when working in commercials, which forces us to think and rethink the best ways to elaborate the scene. When the limitation is this strong, each frame counts!
For this project, which included a 45-second version with two additional scenes, there were 18 characters and 12 separate fan transformations to create, along with all of the crazy props and sets to build in 3D.  With such a short timeline, we were lucky that to be able to work with a couple of good friends:  Javier León and his team, with whom we developed much of the character modeling and textures, with additional character modeling from Eallin Motion Art who also did the 3D of my short film “A Shadow of Blue,”.  Javier worked at Bent with Josh Cox to finalize the look of the 3D lighting and rendering, he lead the CG Art Direction, while Josh was the Senior Technical Director who led the overall team including rigging and animation set-up. The entire Bent team did an incredible job; they worked with dedication and a collaborative spirit, which helped us complete this very ambitious project.
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top: ”Bouncer” evolution. Storyboard sketch, 3D model, 3D model with texture.
middle: Storyboard sketch of the “Cop and Robber.”
bottom: Final render of the “Cop and Robber” scene.