MPC recently created a prehistoric land of dinosaurs for Publicis’ latest spot for Nescafé Goldblend. In the 60-second spot, a mother and son set out on an epic trip in search of dinosaurs, featuring running commentary from The Missing actor Tcheky Karyo. The spot was filmed amongst the stunning scenery of South Africa’s Royal Natal National Park. The world famous rock Amphitheatre forms part of the scenery, slightly augmented by the VFX team.
Directed by Park Pictures duo Patrick Chen and Christian McKenzie, the spot was a huge undertaking for the VFX team, with multiple dinosaurs created from scratch and impressive matte paintings including an animated lava-spewing volcano designed as backdrops.
Jon Park supervised the 3D team in the creation of the Jurassic creatures, with a main focus on the T-rex and her babies.
“Each dinosaur was treated individually, with the team modelling and rigging herds of brachiosaurus, pterodactyls, stegosaurus and the iconic T-rex,” explained Park. “As there was no stand-in reference on set, (save from various crew members undertaking dinosaur role play), the lighting, measurements and even crocodile skin references acquired by our shoot supervisor Jim Radford were indispensable.”
Shooting conditions in the park proved challenging, with a daily two-hour hike to locations with the team carrying all the gear required. Local Zulu guides were employed to help with the more treacherous terrain, including crossing a rocky stream via a rope bridge.
Back in the studio, VFX supervisor Dan Sanders led the team in creating a prehistoric look and integrating the CG dinosaurs. In addition to the matte painted volcano and corresponding reflection seen in the canoe scene, the team added extra waterfalls, clouds and mist, and altered the appearance of the sky and time of day. The dinosaurs were integrated using multiple techniques.
“For the T-rex scenes we used GOBO techniques, to create a dappled light effect over the dinosaur’s skin which quickly draws the eye to the animated creatures,” explained Sanders. “The mother’s mouth features some pretty extraordinary saliva, which we actually shot at MPC playing around with soap suds and an aerosol spray can. This was then composited into her mouth for the final menacing effect.”