Conduit direct Adidas short films
The Powerhouse, Conduit's short film for Adidas, has been seen by nearly 200 000 viewers on Youtube ahead of its cinema and TV debut overseas.
The Powerhouse, which focuses on Liverpool and England star Steven Gerrard, is one of a number of shorts based around French soccer legend Zidane's Ultimate Search for the world's best players. The innovative campaign was conceptualised by 180 Amsterdam, using directors from around the world to create a series of 11 distinctive shorts in a variety of formats, including live action, animation and 3-D.
Conduit designer/directors Marc Ziman and David Correia have also just launched a second short film in the series, The Maestro, which focuses on Brazilian midfielder Kaka, who plays for Real Madrid. "Kaka is by far our favourite," Marc says.
Both shorts are heavily influenced by graphic novels. Conduit worked from finished illustrations: Ryan Benjamin (Iron Man, Batman) drew Gerrard, while J.G. Jones (Wonder Woman, Wanted) created Kaka. "Each illustrator had their own style, with their own way of colouring," Dave says. "The Gerrard illustations were all super realistic, whereas the second one is much looser, more abstract."
Conduit decided they wanted each short to have its own animation feeling. "We made Gerrard more vivid and real, and in a way for wholesome and feelgood, whereas Kaka is a little darker and moodier," Marc explains.
Working from completed illustrations was challenging though. "Ideally we would have worked with the illustrators upfront to create a cell animated style," says Marc. "But the fact that we don't have all the missing cell animated frames has given it a unique aesthetic. In a lot of ways we had to come up with a very traditional Manga treatment - keeping things very cinematic, with camera moves, drifts, and a beautiful score. It was very important for us to just be able to stare at the beautiful frames."
Dave explains that most of the work was done in Adobe After Effects, using the Trapcode plug-in. "We had to cut out the individual players and their limbs and fill in the backgrounds that should have been there, quite a feat when you're dealing with 80 000 fans in a stadium full of flags you have to replace. We had to get them to move naturally, and draw in extra limbs or arms or moving shirts. It was a really fun part of it - we all love artworking. Then we created depth, and flares, and flowing dust particles, and mood, making everything more engaging."
The duo used basic rigging for the players and recreated a handful of computer generated assets. "We replaced the ball with a 3D ball rendered into 2D, and also created a 3D plane. The flags are also all computer generated. It really pops the whole environment," Marc says.
They're not sure the shorts will be screened locally, so we recommend you watch them at the callsheet.co.za
Conduit describe themselves as design-first convergent filmmakers, using a mix of illustration, street art, graphic design, classic cinematography and in-camera live action on most of their jobs. Their work has screened at Resfest and appeared in Shots and Boards, but the Adidas shorts position them on a different level to what they've done before. They've already confirmed a third job for Adidas and more international work should follow. In the meantime, they're developing a range of other products, like canvases and limited range clothing, and desperately hoping they're offered an exciting music video project next.