Insights

The Story of the Plant Shoe - Native Shoes Commercial

Vancouver-based shoe company Native Shoes approached Image Engine to help translate their concept for showcasing their 100% plant-based shoes into a fully-realized 100% CG commercial. Executive Producer Geoff Anderson and Animation Supervisor Richard Spriggs take us through their process from storyboard to finished product, in this interview.

Geoff Anderson & Richard Spriggs | July 10, 2019

How did Image Engine get involved with the Native Shoes commercial?

[Geoff Anderson] We were approached by the Native Shoes Creative Director, Michael Belgue – a friend and colleague of mine for many years.  He was looking for a capable visual effects studio to assist in bringing their concept for a 100% plant-based shoe to life. He felt that Image Engine would be a perfect fit (no pun intended)…

What was the process of translating Native Shoes’ vision into the final commercial?

[Richard Spriggs] As it was the first ever 100% plant based shoe, the client really wanted to illustrate everything that went into making it. They were so passionate about their shoes and they wanted people to know every step that it took to create them. They wanted to tell a story that this shoe has been built from nature. It was important that we illustrate all the different pieces of the shoe and the materials that each were made from.

 


We created all the individual pieces that make up the shoe in CG. Modeling, texturing and grooming each piece to look indistinguishable from the real shoe. Creating everything in CG allowed us to position the camera wherever we wanted to design the best shot. It also allowed us to get the perfect lighting to create the most interesting shot.


We built all the plants in CG so we could have them grow and move as we wanted. So in the end the whole commercial was fully CG which gave us control over every aspect. There are a lot of commercials that are loud and in your face, but with this we wanted it to feel natural and beautiful.

We looked at a lot of time lapse photography for inspiration. We ended up simulating the look of macro photography, using shallow depth of field and adding sun rays and small bits of particulates in the air which helped it feel natural. This also helped frame the shots and direct the viewer’s eye to where we wanted it to focus on. We wanted it to feel like the shoe was growing organically, saving the full shoe reveal until the end.

What did you find most challenging about this work?

[RS] It’s quite an abstract thought to visualize plants turning into shoes. Creating the design of the shots was quite hard. It had to look nice while telling a specific story, the inner sole being made from eucalyptus for example.

How do we turn these leaves into a sole and still make it look pretty? We had to get through a lot of information in a short time frame and didn’t want it to feel rushed. We had to tell a story with each shot and only had a few seconds to do so. Figuring out how do we make it look like the shoe is being created from these plants was quite complex.

What are some of the highlights you hope viewers will notice?

[RS] I think it’s the little details you pick up on the more you watch it that really accentuate our work. Details in the shoes, such as a fine layer of groom to make it fuzzy, modeling all the stitching in the shoe, particles in the air to give it atmosphere, sunlight shining, small little movements in the shoe and plants to keep it interesting.

Any final thoughts?

[RS] We were happy to be a part of the first 100% plant based shoe. Natives has a great initiative to have a positive impact on the environment. It was inspiring to hear how dedicated and passionate they are about positive change. It was great to be a part of helping them present this to the world.