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


Transporting its audience from live action to fiction, the newest Lara Croft 'Monster Chase' leaves behind the conventions of a normal TVC to create a project of cinematic proportion for Visa's Pan-Asian market.

The campaign comprising of a 15-second, 20-second, 30-second, 60-second plus a 2-minute cinematic version, includes a total of 123 scenes, all but 15 containing a stunning use of visual effects.

The story begins with 'real life' Lara Croft (played by supermodel Sofia Vergera) as she plays with her animated counterpart in Tomb Raider. The game quickly becomes very real as the live action Lara becomes entwined with the game, the sassy adventuress getting eyeball-to-eyeball contact with an animated monster of gargantuan proportion.

"With the latitude to create something like an Indiana Jones or a James Bond film action sequence, we had particular fun devising a game sequence within the spot," says Hunt. "It works as its own little movie."

This, the sixth Lara Croft spot for which Animal Logic has crafted visual effects, brings the heroine and her adventures to a new level of sophistication. The armour-plated fiend, complete with dripping saliva appears half organic and half mechanical and was pieced together by Animal Logic Art Director/ VFX Supervisor Simon Whiteley who worked from extensive reference material supplied by Bruce Hunt.

Overcoming the complexity of weaving together a game sequence with live action, Whiteley says of blend between live action with CG in the gaming sequence, "There's nothing tangible to tell you what's real and what's not."

The live action sequence for "Monster Chase" was filmed in Prague over four-days, in the grand interior of the Strahov Library, built between 1782-1784. "All the past Lara Croft spots have just involved Lara in a game but none of the elements have ever come into a real world situation; whereas in this, we have both," says Luke Hetherington, lead 3D animator on the job.

Animal Logic's Hugh Seville (Lead Compositor) went to Prague to supervise the visual effects sections of the shoot, recording information about the library dimensions, lighting set-ups, camera lens settings and textures so that the 3D animators could animate and light the monster accurately in the live action library sequence, giving him a real and terrifying presence in the scene.

According to Hunt, pre-visualisation was an essential part of the creative process. "By the time I got to the shoot, I had all the 3D elements locked off and a good idea of the approach I would take. Ross Wallls (Art Director) had traveled to Prague three weeks before and got all the room measurements."

"Hugh (Seville) brought the 3D animatic of the library scene with him on his laptop so I could plan key shots and camera angles - this almost took over from 'traditional' story boarding because we were able to workshop lens choices and camera moves. This was particularly useful for the scene when the CG monster breaks through into the 'real' world."

Copyright Animal Logic