Watch biomechanical bees build a laptop

To promote the release of their new Kira laptop and its honeycomb chassis, Toshiba approached Logan to create an advert with a technical complexity that would reflect the technology in its new machine.

"Logan was responsible for everything from conception to realisation of the spots," says VFX supervisor Julien Brami. "Jens Gehlhaar, our creative director, led the team working closely with the agency on the designs and storytelling followed by the live-action shoot and the post-production to bring the concept to life.

"The spot took about two and a half months to complete and, including production and direction, 22 people. For the first two weeks, we focused on the multiple designs (the hero bee, the queen and the drones), design frames, storyboard, pre-visualisation and preparation for the live action. A lot of work was put in the animation research and development of the bees, as we needed them to communicate emotions and feelings without any facial expression.

"The animation required the most effort: Maya was the centrepiece. As we developed an array of in-house tools for it, we were really efficient in creating multiple versions of same shots per day, without jeopardising any other tasks.

"Versions of animations were key in this project, as we were in constant collaboration with the agency. Feedback from them was flowing, and we were able to address all of the issues that arose.

"The biggest technical challenge beside the animation was to blend perfectly CG and footage to help the storytelling. A lot of work was done on the plates, enhancements and CG additions to give life and magic to the environment.

"The most difficult shot was the time lapse, as we wanted to fake it as little as possible in post. Jens Gehlhaar and the VFX supervisor, Julien Brami, tried to find the best solutions to achieve that in camera.

"We used a rig of eight light sources, and a spotlight mounted on a crane, everything controlled by a lighting control console, the rest was timing and rehearsal."

This article originally appeared in 3D World magazine issue 173.

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