Darth Vader Goes Shopping At Currys/PC World

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It’s getting more and more difficult for advertisers to cut through with conventional TV ads – thanks to the rise of digital on-demand technologies. One attempted solution to this problem has been an increase in the use of film and TV characters in ads to try and stop audiences fast-forwarding or skipping them.

Current examples of this trend towards advertainment are the M&S X Factor ad and a Muller ad which draws on classic characters. It’s also noteworthy that Lucasfilms’ iconic Star Wars characters have started to pop up in TV ads over the last year or two. A good example is a recent ad for Curry's/PC World in which Darth Vader pays a visit.

Directed by Rocky Morton at MJZ, Vader's Visit was written by Orlando Warner at M&C Saatchi, with Chris McBride at MJZ and Ronae Rayson at M&C Saatchi producing. MPC - led by VFX Supervisors Bill McNamara, Eileen Chan & Anthony Bloor - handled a complex post-production task to help bring Vader's visit to life.

According to MPC, 3D VFX work played an integral part in the job. For example, MPC’s 3D team - headed by Anthony Bloor  - was tasked with recreating a full CG starship. Reference materials of the original models were supplied from the film, while extensive pre-viz helped determine the look and feel of the ship. All shots featuring the inside of the ship were also fully CG.

For a scene when the shuttle crushes the store manager's car, the team amplified the shuttle's landing gear from a slimmer design and made the plate of a disused car - chosen so they could properly crush - appear like a new vehicle. Other work included creating hovering laptops, 3D mist and floating hair following Vader's wave of the light sabre on a staff member.

The 2D team had an equally challenging role in the spot ad. The director wanted an ominous feeling for Vader's arrival. So the MPC team replaced the sky with a gloomier tone and setting while adding subtle lens flares and cinematic light effects to Vader's landing.

Extraneous branding was also removed from the store itself for a cleaner look. Using a digital matte painting, the team composited a vivid cityscape backdrop into Vader's initial landing scene. To create the appearance of a large crowd, several initial plates were shot, which were then composited and replicated using Flame.

Other work included rebuilding the inside of the store and replacing and extending the video wall with shot footage, and creating Vader's light sabre. Director of Colour Grading Jean-Clement Soret added the grade using Baselight. The campaign also features several online viral spots directed by Joel Wilson at 2AM.