archiving Tomb Raider one pixel at a time
Animal Logic Digitising Lara Croft


Animal Logic made film experience a priority in its choice of staff for the latest Lucozade spot. The commercial once again features arguably the world's most famous computer game icon, Lara Croft.

But while our hero was the same, the challenges this time around were quite different. Producer Lara Bowden explains that the project was a massive task due to a new level of intricacy: " In this latest spot we worked on pushing the creative boundaries to make the CGI more filmic."

Director Peter McDonald adapted his film direction training from national film school AFTRS (Australian Film and TV & Radio School) and his extensive work in film shorts and animation, to help with all creative aspects of the Lucozade spot. These included overseeing the design on the storyboarding, motion capture, a live-action shoot, and producing character voiceovers with talent in London whilst still in Sydney.

Over an eleven week schedule, the extensive Animal Logic team put in two hundred days of animation time to finesse the Lara Croft character.

CGI Director of Photography Craig Welsh, who designed the lighting of the animation, translated his experience as a cinematographer to the digital realm. Whip pans, overshoots, hand-held effects and over-exposure were all purposely added to create a feeling of cinematic realism. Welsh says "I run tests and try to create accidents" as a way of embellishing the qualities on the CGI.

Interestingly, when it came to designing the feel and ambience of the new jungle environment, Welsh turned to a favourite piece of art for inspiration. "Decline of the Cartheginian Empire', a painting by Turner provided me with the reference I wanted for the jungle landscape and skies" says Welsh. This lead to a sky that was more a watercolour yellow than a typical flat CGI blue. The artwork also provided a model for the lighting volumetrics.

This meant that the CG environment could be lit to take advantage of a jungle mist quality. Welsh also added different CGI lighting effects such as a shards of light through dense foliage and dappled effects.

Lastly, realistic and detailed CGI character work was produced by animators Rachael Ward, Craig Baxter and Justin Mettam. Their painstaking attention to facial expressions and human movement translates into unique human characteristics that endow the CGI characters with personality. These qualities provide much of the humour for the commercial when a butch new character takes on a camp persona during a break in trying to destroy Lara Croft.

Overall, the random nature of these design elements combine to give the Lucozade spot a feeling of cinematic verisimilitude. All of these 'imperfections' help to extend the interactivity and believability of Lara Croft, allowing the viewer to appreciate the action and attitude of the commercial and its added layer of realism.

Copyright Animal Logic