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The Role of VFX in Advertising and How It Sets Potential Free

Following FCB and Framestore’s Cannes Lions seminar, Jon Collins, president of integrated advertising at Framestore Worldwide, joins us as a guest contributor to further discuss how visual effects use creative technologies to bring consumers and brands closer together.

Cannes 2014 confirmed creativity is firmly back on the agenda. And when creativity is at the forefront, fear of failure takes a backseat. This creates a climate where we’re comfortable with taking risks, which is an incredibly healthy place to be in any creative field. As Tim Webber said at the Palais last Monday, June 16, if necessity is the mother of invention, risk is the mother of innovation. 

The advertising landscape is becoming increasingly diverse. Although the integration of digital is reaching maturation, there’s no time to rest because new creative channels and opportunities rear their heads on an almost monthly basis. In fact, with the launch of Amazon Fire, we saw the birth of an entirely new way of communicating with consumers: mobile 3D.

Technology’s constant development nurtures ever more creative possibilities. And it’s VFX’s mission to explore these possibilities by developing ingenious advertising solutions that merge both creativity and technology. VFX have, after all, always existed at the intersection of creativity and technology, long before Silicon Valley coined the term ‘creative technologist.’

VFX have augmented advertising reality for decades, freeing wildly imaginative scripts from the physical limitations of real life to create truly mesmerizing and iconic campaigns like Guinness ‘Surfer.’ But the idea of using VFX to release creative potential is taken to a whole new level by technology that’s sophisticated enough to let us create utterly convincing CG: Gravity’s outer-space, water, fur, hair, skin, and pretty much everything in between.

The idea of authentic-looking CG fur once felt unattainable. But now, it’s all – relatively speaking – in a day’s work. The next VFX Holy Grail was creating a recognizable and completely believable human being, but this idea has already been ticked off the list of completed items. Whether it’s Framestore bringing Audrey Hepburn back from the grave, or NVidia creating a terrifyingly credible real-time CG human face, the impossible has once again become possible through VFX. These new possibilities are unleashing creative ideas like never before.

Although a 30-second TV spot is still a great place to be, VFX can be combined with new channels to give that spot an engaging life beyond a 2D screen. If the mighty Facebook had its way, virtual reality may soon be a household reality. 4K makes commercials like never before. 4D projection mapping creates jaw-dropping unforgettable moments. Real-time CG means brand icons can instantly react to the cultural agenda. Amazon’s new Fire phone has radically unveiled the world of 3D storytelling, and Google Glass has just been released in the UK to give Brits a new communication dimension. The list – and its scope for using VFX in new creative ways – goes on.

These innovations have come about through push and pull collaborations between technology companies, new platforms, a divergence in VFX thinking and advertising-led leaps of imagination. They are a game-changer for industry creativity. Whilst this may leave some people fearful, true creatives relish the chance to tell stories in multifaceted ways. And when VFX are thrown into the mix, creative limitations are thrown out the window. These joint forces foster a brave new world of genuinely engaging and trailblazing story-telling.