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How Dougal Wilson Sent a Flock of T-Shirts on an Epic Journey for Ikea

LBB Editorial , 2 years, 9 months ago

Blink director on a celebrating 'The Wonderful Everyday' for Ikea with a gorgeous, migratory film

How Dougal Wilson Sent a Flock of T-Shirts on an Epic Journey for Ikea

Storage is generally seen as a functional necessity. But Ikea is trying to change that perception with ‘The Wonderful Everyday’, a campaign that’s championing great storage as opposed to seeing it just as a solution to a problem. In the campaign’s latest spot, from Mother London and Blink’s Dougal Wilson, a flock of t-shirts embark on an epic migratory journey, before reaching the cosy comfort of an Ikea wardrobe. LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with director Wilson to find out how he pulled it off. 



LBB> The spot is really about celebrating something very ‘everyday’ and perhaps ordinary. How tricky was it to instil a sense of excitement? Which techniques did you use to pull it off?

DW> I really liked the idea in the script of a flock of t-shirts behaving like birds, so I watched a lot of footage of migratory birds in flight. There is some amazing footage of geese that had been 'imprinted' since birth to follow a handler, and then trained to fly alongside a microlight aircraft, enabling them to be filmed very close up - for example in the movie 'Winged Migration'.  

I thought it would be fun to contrast this kind of epic tone with our very mundane participants, i.e. everyday t-shirts. Rich Tahmesebi and Pilar Santos, the creative team, had noticed that t-shirts already had a bird-like appearance, so I set to work trying to work out how to actually make them fly. The fantastic puppeteers, Jonny Sabbagh and Will Harper, found a very simple way to do this in camera, but I realised it'd be tricky to puppeteer a whole flock, so we ended up using a combination of in camera puppet elements, and CGI created by MPC.


LBB> The t-shirts embark on a pretty epic journey. Which locations did the shoot take you to? 

DW> The idea was that the shirts roughly follow an actual migratory route, so we started in northern Sweden, then the highlands of Scotland, then England.

It's not exactly a straight line, though, because I needed certain things to happen in the story. So there were a couple of diversions via Dover and a cross-channel ferry.


LBB> How much were you able to catch in camera and what was added in post?

DW> The puppeteered shirts are generally the ones closest to camera when the shirts are on the ground. I worked with the brilliant puppeteers, Jonny and Will, who ‘operated’ a lot of these foreground t-shirts. They also created some of the flying t-shirts, but most of these were created in CG because it was going to be tricky to create whole flocks using in-camera, and to create many of the flying movements we were after.


LBB> How closely did you work with the guys at MPC?

DW> I worked extremely closely with MPC from before the shoot. The CG team was led by Diarmid Harrison Murray, and lead-animated by Tim Van Hussen. I showed them lots of references and they began to show me flying cycles and tests quite early on. They brought so much to the production because they would often show me a suggestion for movement which I wouldn't have thought of myself. They also managed to simulate the t-shirts' cloth beautifully, and how it responded to light and wind.


LBB> How long was the project from start to finish?

DW> From receiving the script to it going on TV, probably about 10 weeks?  The last three weeks were all post production, where MPC refined the CG elements. They had a very challenging schedule but managed to finish on time.


LBB> What was the most memorable moment for you?

DW> I loved being in the north of Sweden and the north of Scotland. 


LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?

DW> It was quite tricky to film the shirts flying in the storm. The hero shirt was shot in camera with a rain machine, a wind machine and a lightning machine. Lots of machines. So it was wet, deafening and you kept getting blinded by sheets of flashing light. Also fitting all the ideas we had into a 60-second ad was very tricky, and there was a lot I had to leave out.  


Category: Decorating , Home appliances

Genre: Visual VFX