Helping Hewlett Packard show how durable their data cartridges are.
Above: Broadcast standard animation, also great fun: See production details below.
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Hewlett Packard Brief
Data storage is a vital part of operations for many companies. They need the ability to securely archive vast amounts of data and HP’s LTO Ultrium range offers a solution.
HP test their data cartridges in extreme environments across our planet. They commissioned a video to illustrate their tests to customers, demonstrating the strength and reliability of their cartridges.
We adopted the idea of domino toppling as a fun, engaging way to show the range of tests performed. Animated video a natural partner to the idea and a way to create an unforgettable message.
A series of geographical environments were mapped out, along with the obstacles they would hold. Setting the order of elements and rate of flow from one to another held the key to this video, creating a visual script.
To build a sense of scale into the environments, the entire journey would take place in a large glass building. Cutting from close ups of the domino run to wide shots could enhance the journey, create interaction between elements.
Each element needed to be modelled in 3D, from dinosaurs to a perfect Saturn 5 rocket. Mount Everest was the most complex environment, with the challenge of making cartridges topple uphill. Our lead animator, Jon Draper, suggested it would be easier to have climbed Everest.
The varied environments, from the Amazon to the Atlantic, were created using the different colours of the cartridges. A useful way to help viewers identify with and subconsciously accept the transitions.
Up to 250,000 individual cartridges were to be animated in a single scene, placed in a way which would allow them to topple in real life. A physics program was used to mimick how real dominoes would hit and affect each other.
If calculations were not precise and the scene set perfectly, we had to start all over again. Part of the challenge and the enjoyment of producing a unique corporate video.
Complex animation sequences of this type can take a long time to render. The yellow cartridges tumbling through the desert an example, around 6 hours to compute, then five days rendering.
This was partly due to the final look we wanted. Renders were made up of diffuse, shadow, specular, motion and Z depth passes, in a composite format.
By the end of the project, we had 800 GB of data. A mix of 3D scene files, cached data for the particle, or smoke effects, draft renders, final renders, video edits and sound recording.
Most videos benefit from a final polish, this one deserved detailed attention. The eye of the editor still matters, although interesting to note the software used during main and post production:
- Cinema 4D, especially the particle engine, to generate and control vast numbers of cartridges, without bringing our systems to a halt.
- Turbulence FD, a third party Cinema 4D plugin. To create the desert sandstorm, clouds around Everest, a burning ring of fire and bellowing smoke for the rocket launch.
- All the rendered layers were composited in Adobe After Effects, final editing and grading carried out in Adobe Premiere.
The client was delighted and distributed this animated video production as part of their marketing drive. Also adding a competition to guess how many cartridges were pictured at: if tapes were dominoes.