The Times Brings Westminster to You Ahead of General Election

The Times Brings Westminster to You Ahead of General Election

Jun. 24, 2024

The Times and The Sunday Times are bringing Westminster to your doorstep in a new campaign to keep readers informed ahead of the UK’s general election.

Through meticulous CG and VFX work from Stone Dogs, the series of spots see political iconography embedded into everyday contexts to highlight the way policies impact normal people’s lives. All shot in a single take, the striking visuals include Big Ben towering over a market square, a House of Commons bench crammed into a hospital waiting room, and Number 10 nestled into an estate agent, among others.

Stone Dogs was brought onto the campaign by longtime collaborators, Bubble TV, who completed sound design, online and grade on the films. The concept – what the 2024 election would really mean for Britain – was initially to be achieved through a combination of stock footage and CG and 2D elements; however, it soon became clear that the desired quality could only be attained through shooting original footage. 

Location scouting from Pulse Creative (part of The&Partnership) resulted in a two-day shoot in Kingston, doubling as a stand-in for anywhere in Britain, with Stone Dogs on set for VFX supervision, HDRI capture for CG, and assistance with all 2D aspects. 

While reducing the shoot’s carbon footprint, the single location challenged the VFX team to give each setting its own distinct regional flavour through set extensions and the removal of identifiable brands and buildings. Stone Dogs utilised Autodesk flame for this set cleanup, as well as for the CG comps, with time-consuming tasks like sky replacements and eliminating unwanted objects made easier through its machine learning capabilities.

The final campaign features both 9x16 and 16x9 formats. Despite the relative ease of shooting open gate and cropping, the team chose to rotate the camera for each one in order to retain the lens’ characteristics and ensure the highest visual quality in both formats. This approach, however, doubled the number of films, demanding a more labour-intensive post process.

Fortunately, the Stone Dogs team had already begun modelling the CG elements a week before the shoot, allowing them to stay ahead once the first offline edits were approved. This was particularly helpful given the fact that the general election – expected in autumn – was scheduled for July 4th in a surprise announcement just a week after the shoot.

Brian Carbin, co-owner and flame artist at Stone Dogs, commented: 

“We've collaborated with Bubble TV for years, but this project was a unique opportunity to showcase our VFX expertise alongside Bubble’s award-winning sound design and beautiful grade. The clever copywriting needed to be matched with photoreal CG and perfect props to convey the story effectively. We always aspire to hold ourselves to the highest standards, but with this campaign, we surpassed even our own expectations. The agency was thrilled with the results, and coordinating the campaign's timing with the election announcement was a nice touch!”

 

Martin Cook, owner, MD, and director-producer at Stone Dogs’ CGI partner, Orchard Post, added:

"This was our first production job using Blender and Cycles. With the evolving demands for efficient workflows, Blender impressed us with its flexibility and power. Its solid tracking, texturing, and rendering capabilities within a single environment helped us meet the brief efficiently. As our team sizes fluctuate from project to project, Blender will be an essential tool in our arsenal."

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