Am I Collective and GWK Pay Farmers the Respect they Deserve
At the very top of the list “Things We Don’t Need to Tell You” is: Everybody Needs to Eat. Food and nutrition are such a foundational part of our lives that many don’t give it a second thought. It’s easy to go through our days walking down to the corner for a fully formed meal, or picking up a handful of extraordinarily fresh produce that was impossible to get even 50 years ago. We owe all of this to our farmers. Advances in farming technology, like those offered by agricultural company GWK, mean that we have unprecedented access to wonderful food that allows us to get on with our lives and touch the world in our own unique ways. GWK wanted to pay homage to the farmers they work with so they got in touch with Lowe and Partners and Am I Collective to figure out the best way to do it.
Lowe and partners banged out a script that paid respect to GWK’s partners and sent it over to Am I Collective to think about execution. “When we first got the script from the agency we decided not to approach this as a traditional treatment but look at the story as an amazing opportunity to do something unique, something inspiring, and something that the South African audience hasn’t seen before,” says Ruan Vermeulen, the Animation Director at Am I Collective. There were a dozen ways they could have executed the project, but they decided to go for the gold: stop-frame animation.
For the uninitiated: stop-frame animation is when the artists create 3D models and move them each little by little, taking a still photograph at each movement to create a single frame in the final piece. This kind of work is intense and time consuming, often requiring an entire day to get less than a ten seconds of animated material. But the hands on feature of stop-frame animation is exactly what Am I Collective felt like the story needed. “We decided to do a combination of stop-frame and CGI animation purely because stop-frame animation has an emotional and human side to it,” explains Ruan. “What’s amazing about stop-frame is that even though you’re using the fanciest equipment around it still needs the human hand. The same with farming. Even though farming is using the best equipment out there it still needs the farmer’s involvement, his hand, to make it work.”
This process is a huge undertaking that comes with it some risk, but it was a commitment Am I Collective felt was worth it. “This was a really ambitious project and the technical and logistical challenges that we faced were inevitable,” says Vanessa McGowan. “This process requires a huge amount of focus. The smallest camera shake or lighting change can really throw off an entire day.” The resulting video is sweeping and epic, emotional and personal, and made successful by the direct interaction of artists and their mediums.
Check out the whole video below, as well as a Behind the Scenes feature to understand the process a little better.