BBC’s Winter Olympics ad is a 3D-printed marvel
We expect the BBC to deliver its Olympic tracks with a mix of epic drama and innovative craft, and its latest offering for the Beijing Winter Olympics, which begin on February 4, is no exception.
Designed by BBC Creative, the trailer is directed by Balázs Simon through production company Blinkink. And while no actual ice and snow are featured, it manages to convey all the challenges of the Winter Olympics through the use of elaborate animations, with entire scenes 3D printed frame by frame.
“I really admire people who are willing to push things to the limit,” says Simon. “What could be a better example for that than the Olympics? Especially the Winter Games where they compete in environments so different from our usual experiences. When I was approached for this project, the biggest question for me was how to portray and live up to that dedication… we wanted to portray them being born into ice and snow and eventually breaking out.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, looking at the end result, Simon says creating the film was “quite a challenge”. “It would be difficult to list what went south or just against our expectations,” he continues. “My favorite task was to find a solution for the camerawork in the snow scenes. To get a first-hand experience of the characters’ efforts, I wanted to bring the viewer as close to them as possible: a great example of how one seemingly simple creative decision can turn into a vast web of interwoven technical challenges.”
The solution for the team was a complex mix of 3D printed scenes and camera movements. “We started to think of the cameras differently: some of their movements would be directly ‘printed’, and others would be real movements of the control platform,” explains Simon.
The team had to squeeze the environment the Olympians were in into the small space of the 3D-printed cubes, in order to express their speed and sense of movement. “That’s how the idea of forced perspective came about,” says Simon, “which we had to solve completely algorithmically: we had deep spaces with characters moving near and far, followed by fast and rotating cameras. There was no way to figure out how to warp everything by hand. Seen from the camera, the scenes make sense, but from all other angles they are quite abstract and distorted.
“It quickly turned into a technobabble, but it illustrates our core experience! So many back and forth between departments, which would not have been possible without such a dedicated team and expert coordination.
The animation is currently being shown on the BBC and online to promote the Winter Olympics, and will also feature in the title sequence of its cover from February 4.
Agency: BBC Creative
Creative directors: James Cross, Tim Jones
Creatives: Stuart Gittings, Reuben Dangoor
Director: Balazs Simon
Production Company: Blinkink
Sound: GAS Music Manchester