5 great examples of ad production from Unit

Unit (opens in new tab) offers a host of post production services, and has worked on some of the UK’s biggest ad campaigns, produced in conjunction with some of the world’s biggest agencies - but, so often the unsung heroes of ad production, its work can sometimes go under the radar.

Via Unit’s three standalone studios - The Cut (editing), The Mix (audio post) and The Finish (VFX and finishing) - clients can choose exactly what they need for a given project, but avoid the headaches caused by using multiple post houses for audio, offline and VFX.

Unit works primarily with global agencies to help deliver cutting-edge ad campaigns, with clients including BBH, Saatchi & Saatchi, CHI & Partners, Ogilvy, Dare and RSA, to name but a few.

In this article we shine a light on the work of these unsung heroes of ad production, and showcase five killer projects from Unit, illustrating the great work it does across VFX, audio and editing.

01. Unite and Excite - Nissan UK

Working with director Juriaan Booij at RSA Films (opens in new tab), Unit came on board to work its post-production magic on the “Unite and Excite” campaign for Nissan UK, which included VFX and sound production.

Starring the British cyclist and multiple Olympic champion Chris Hoy, the ad cuts between action in a velodrome and a lab-based testing environment, with graphical elements being integrated with live action, as the excitement of an onlooking crowd builds toward the ad’s conclusion (Hoy crossing the finishing line).

“The crew at Unit we were able to create the illusion of hundreds of fans flashing their cameras. With both visual effects as well as great sound design it seems like a roaring crowd of GB fans,” explains Matt Henry, Unit’s Head of Design on the typographical and graphic elements. “The idea was to bring the data and monitoring results the researchers found in the Nissan research lab to the race in the Velodrome, so there would be a direct overlap between the two different locations.”

02. Spirit of the Times - Google

Every year Google releases its Zeitgeist, a review of the last 12 months in search. It's often an enlightening and fascinating insight into the year’s events, and for the most recent Zeitgeist campaign Unit helped produce 'Spirit of the Times', which focussed on the people, places, and moments that captured the world’s attention in 2013.

Working with Adam&Eve DDB (opens in new tab) and production company Across The Pond (opens in new tab), Unit helped present this heady mix of footage, of varying degrees of quality, into a coherent package that seamlessly cycles through numerous events taking place over the year.

The video has surpassed 30 million views on YouTube, and has more than 56,000 likes. The Unit team working on the project included producers Kevin Doherty and Millie Easton, Smoke work by Nick John, and audio production by Chris Southwell and Roz Wilson.

03. Volvo and Sky Atlantic

To celebrate and promote a two-year sponsorship deal between Volvo and Sky Atlantic, covering TV on demand and Sky Go, Unit worked with agency Arnold KLP (opens in new tab) to produce an XC60 that explodes apart in a showroom, before being pieced back together (focussing on the ‘Quality productions are made up of many parts’ tagline).

According to Unit, the ad was produced by 11 artists, and contained 4345 objects (made up of 32 million polygons!). Showcasing the work of The Finish, the VFX and finishing branch of Unit, the project took two and a half weeks to pull together.

Martin Allan (head of 3D) and Stirling Archibald (head of Nuke) shot HDR images on set, and then worked with CAD data to create CG assets for the project, which gave them the power to effortlessly explode and rebuild the car.

04. Smyths Toys Superstores

It was one of the most memorable festive ads to air in the UK over the holiday period, and - for anyone with children - it was also a great way of finding out exactly what your kids wanted to find under the tree come Christmas morning.

This 30 second ad, which followed hot on the heels of the campaign launch in September, brought a host of the year’s hottest toys to life, as they made their way through the streets of Manchester.

Working with TBWA Manchester (opens in new tab), and with the ad being directed by Chris Gaffey at The Mob Film Co (opens in new tab), the project brought out the inner child for all involved, not least for Unit’s VFX supervisor Jon Berridge, whose team rose to the technical challenge of turning the wet streets of Manchester into a “starry moonlit backdrop for the toys’ magical choreographed journey from store to home, landing on the newly animated blocks bouncing life into the historically 2D Smyths Toys Superstores logo”.

And getting in the festive spirit, all the toys featured in the advert were donated to children’s charities after the shoot.

05. Friend for Life - Embrace

Directed by Darren Robbie from Luma (opens in new tab) - an award-winning boutique studio that collaborates closely with Unit - Friend for Life was created for Embrace tissues in the Middle East, and took the innovative approach of presenting the ‘circle of life’ through the medium of tissue paper.

“I worked with a fantastic team who created the whole commercial in CG, giving complete control of the tissue world and allowing us to build a ‘real’ tactile environment that was also magical and enchanting,” explains Robbie.

The 3D element of the project was managed by Martin Allan, Unit’s head of 3D. Martin and his team set about creating the visual look of the characters, with a few days being spent experimenting with different construction techniques before embarking on the but according to Allan “the biggest balancing act when designing and modelling the characters was scale”. In the end the team opted for 20 cm: a good compromise between detail and realism.

The team was made up of 10 people at Luma (with Jarrod KLinton acting as VFX supervisor), with additional support given by Unit should the need arise. And the result, created in just six weeks, was fantastic.

Win a trip to Los Angeles! (opens in new tab)


Masters of CG (opens in new tab) is a competition for EU residents that offers the one-in-a-lifetime chance to work with one of 2000AD's most iconic characters: Rogue Trooper.

We invite you to form a team (of up to four participants) and tackle as many of our four categories as you wish - Title Sequence, Main Shots, Film Poster or Idents. For full details of how to enter and to get your Competition Information Pack, head to the Masters of CG website (opens in new tab) now.

Enter the competition today! (opens in new tab)

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Dan Oliver

Over the last 20 years, Dan has edited a number of print magazines and websites, including Computer Arts, 3D World and ImagineFX, and has written for publications including the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Manchester Evening News, Manchester United Magazine, T3, and many more. He is currently the digital editor of Creative Bloq's sister magazine, Wallpaper*.