Spike Lee and Framestore CFC Team Up for Telecom Italia Spot
Framestore CFC Publicity, 28 September 2004
For Telecom Italia's new spot, Young & Rubicam, Milan, came up with a big idea. To address the range and importance of modern telecommunications, they posed the question, "What if a great man of the last century – Gandhi, say – had had access to the communications networks of our age when he made one of his most important speeches?" The result is 'Telecom Italia Gandhi', an astonishing 60-second spot that has just started airing in Italy. The producers went straight to the A-List for their director, bringing Spike Lee on board to helm it. Such an ambitious project with such a high-profile director needed the very best in VFX support, and Framestore CFC were delighted to fill that role.
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Using a brilliant blend of real archive footage and sound in combination with specially shot material, 'Telecom Italia Gandhi' shows Gandhi repairing to a simple hut, where he seats himself and begins to deliver his 'One World' speech – a message of universal brotherhood and love. The camera pans across the room and we see that he is addressing a webcam. We cut to a series of scenes of a re-imagined 1940s – a huge throng in a Times Square that features a giant LED screen; a period scene in front of the Coliseum as it was then, with a couple watching Gandhi's broadcast on their mobile phone; a flat sceen monitor on a desk in a London office by the Thames; A Chinese man listening on a headset; a Bushman with a laptop; and, finally, a Red Square scene mirroring the opening Times Square one, as a great crowd watches a giant screen. The spot closes with the simple but thought-provoking message, "If he could have communicated like this, what would the world be like today?"
Shot over 6 days in Rome – four days in the studio, two on location - the shoot was attended by Henry Artist Tim Osborne, Framestore CFC's VFX Supervisor for the project. Osborne, along with fellow artists Stephane Allender and Nick Bennett and Telecine operator Steffan Perry, then spent four weeks in post, perfecting the look and feel of the piece until Spike Lee and the agency were not just happy, but delighted with the work.
The biggest single challenge facing the team was the creation of the Times Square crowd and environment. Two hundred extras became thousands, and Gandhi's face was placed above them all. Working in Henry, Flame and Inferno, the Framestore CFC team also had to pull apart contemporary footage of the Coliseum (in which the lower two tiers are boarded, netted and scaffolded) and painstakingly recreate an authentic period view of the monument with all modern visual references removed. Attention to detail was crucial – things like the rain that helped define the London scene, and Gandhi's reflection in the lens of the webcam.
Steffan Perry's work in the Spirit suite involved an initial technical conform, followed by a final version which he created working from reference files sent by Lee's Director of Photography, Tom Sigel. Perry created a desaturated, almost hand-tinted look which perfectly complemented the material.
The result - accompanied by a soaring operatic score - is splendid, movingly posing its 'what-if' premise in a range of scenes that move from the epic to the intimate and back again.
Telecom Italia Gandhi
Agency Young & Rubicam, Milan
Client Telecom Italia
Creative Directors Aldo Cernuto and Roberto Pizzigoni
Agency Producer Angus MacDonald
Production Company Colorado Commercials & Services
Director Spike Lee
Executive Producers Fabrizio Donvito and Marco Cohen
Producers Marco Malfi
D.o.p. Tom Sigel
Production Company Post Producer Marco Malfi
VFX Producer for Colorado Francesco Grisi
Editor Barry Brown
Post-production audio Mach2
For Framestore CFC
VFX Supervisor Tim Osborne
Flame Artist Stephane Allender
Inferno Artist Nick Bennett
3D Animators Howard Sly, Chris Syborn
TK Operator Steffan Perry
Framestore CFC Producer Stuart Robinson