Witness the Earth’s greatest wildlife, shot by the world’s greatest wildlife cinematographers, in a live, two-hour event Sunday July 9 at 8/7c on National Geographic. In this promo campaign, the creative marketing team at National Geographic partnered with us to create a fresh live action + VFX world that features the one and only Jane Lynch!
“Sometimes we get to work with fully live action projects, other times we live in a pure VFX world.
In dream cases… we get to do both! “
Earth Live was exactly that. It was an incredibly unique project where we got to work with one of our well-established clients, National Geographic, and their fantastic team on something that was completely groundbreaking.
Their premium and innovative content space tend to raise some promotional challenges for their marketing team, and such was the case with Earth Live. It was a studio-based show that cut to National Geographic cinematographers stationed around the world, filming unpredictable wildlife and landscapes…all on live TV. Add in the ever wonderful and eccentric Jane Lynch as host, and you have one wild night.
When we were brought on for the project, we had two great scripts from the creative team we were excited about, but there were still a lot of moving targets. Because of promotional needs, they needed to get the advertising of the show out as soon as possible. Two major challenges presented themselves. First, Jane was limited to an incredibly small time and place window. Second, we needed to conceptualize a built-from-scratch studio environment with a global, all-encompassing look and feel that wasn’t overly technical or too TV control room feel. The network wanted a set where the environment would be modern and versatile, housed in a space that displayed all sorts of various live-action footage. The kicker was that we didn’t know precisely what footage would need to be composited. We knew that footage would be hugely impactful to our style of visual effects, so it all boiled down to building something adaptable that also looked realistic and high-end.
Live action and visual effects integrated work is right up our alley, so we were all in for the challenge. We established that our main set piece and means for displaying all the footage would be a curved, digital wall. We cycled through different trends and ideas like digital light projection, heads up display, futuristic visual interface, holographic, or monitor wall styles, but it didn’t convey the idea of a global immersion like we wanted. Instead, we worked hand-in-hand with National Geographic to custom create a more organic and photo-real set, built from textured cement paneling and a synchronized intelligent lighting scheme that rendered a more classic style of film projection. The wall’s seamless curve visually conveyed that, like the globe, the show had no borders. The images changing and bleeding together showcased that Earth Live could truly take you anywhere in an instant.
When it came time for production, we landed at the fabulous CBS studios, where we continued with real-time VFX preview that became crucial to in the moment decisions. And just as important as creating that perfect aesthetic look and feel, was putting that much love into production, schedules, planning, and over-staffing the operations departments. With heavy time restraints and an A-list talent on board, we made sure to give special attention to the amount of detail and orchestration necessary to give Jane her time to shine and allow us to complete our entire shot list successfully.
On the post end, our team of editors and VFX artists worked to incorporate the wildlife footage as well as create a GFX package that built custom text to hit story points. It was a bold, punchy way to emphasize that it was live, one of the key hallmarks of the show.
A high profile celebrity + complicated live action production + integrated digital computer generated environment = just another day in office.
OUR TEAM THRIVES ON CREATIVE CHALLENGES AND PROBLEM SOLVING AND THE MORE VARIABLES THERE ARE, THE MORE FUN WE’LL HAVE!