Not To Scale: “Bubbles”

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What was the brief for this project?
Agency BMB approached us to make a commercial that had something of the same charm and appeal of our short film ‘3650.’

The brief was to show the wide array of accommodation available through laterooms in as appealing and inviting a way as possible.

Where did the bubble concept come from?
The bubble concept came from the agency, their whole idea was based around thought bubbles as a chain of consciousness each containing its own little world.

“3650,” also directed by Not To Scale’s Ubik

The CG elements have a playful, stylized look to them. How did you guys develop that direction?

The playful, stylised look was partly influenced by the aesthetic of ‘3650,’ but we made a decision from the outset to make these daydream-like bubbles simple, charming and quite toy like, but without being childish.

We really liked the idea of them being almost souvenir snow-globes, the kind of thing you might buy from a gift shop in margate or the costa, but ours would contain a beautiful cottage, a remote scottish castle or a bustling new york city-scape.

The texture of the worlds was really important to us too, as we wanted them to have a hand made, almost miniature train set feel to them, and not feel too shiny and CG. We also really wanted to include the earth and subterranean elements—tree roots and sunken galleons, that would be underneath the destinations, so that they felt like they had been scooped out of the ground.

The art direction helps give that appeal that we were briefed on and we developed it from lots of concept illustrations and modelsheets.

Is the entire scene CG or is the background live action?
The bubbles are all entirely CG but the kitchen/diner is all live action. We found a beautiful house owned and decorated by a fashion photographer, which had a very simple, stylish and aspirational feel to it. It was perfect as it looked really good but was very light and unimposing so would recede well, allowing the bubbles to really take centre stage. It also had a slightly surreal feel to it, with a domed roof and lots of natural light. As soon as we saw it we knew it was the right location.

We shot the live action on a Red with an Easyrig. We did a really tight pre-vis so that Tim Green, our DOP, knew exactly what he was shooting and could visualize where the bubbles would eventually end up. It took a fair few takes to get what we needed as he had very specific timings and moves and he had to hit points in empty space quite precisely. He did a fantastic job, though.

There’s an interesting cut away to the shadows cast on the table (at :14)—where did the idea for that shot come from? What was the thinking behind it?

Thanks. (Apparently it was the agency producers girlfriends favourite shot too). We have used cut away shots to shadows or partial shadows in a few other films we have made. We put it in the original storyboards and had to fight a little bit to keep it in there, but we felt it was important. There is just something lovely about seeing action happening in shadow.

From both a technical and a narrative point of view it really helped us. Technically, it meant we could show new bubbles forming and the connections between the bubbles, the seagulls in this instance, without having the render overheads, so it was in some ways a time saving device.

More importantly, though, as a creative and narrative device we feel it gives the viewer a bit of a respite, a pause for thought, or a little aside away from the almost full screen CG. We felt a little moment of quiet and subtlety helped tell the story and communicate the concept in a more elegant way.

Making Of


Production company : Not To Scale
Director: Ubik
Producer: Jade Caffoor

Production Manager: Kelly Ford

Design: Ubik
Technical Director: Matt Esterhuizen
Lighting: Anthony Martin
3D models / Animation: Doug Kennedy Agnes Billard

Compositing: Ruben Llusia Bernaldez, Glassworks London
Colourist: Ben Rodgers, Glassworks London
Post Producer: Colin Oaten
3D Tracking: Steve New

DOP: Tim Green

Music: Lucky Elephant c/o Hear No Evil
Sound Design: Wave

Head of TV: Jonathan Chads c/o BMB
Creative Team: Laura Duffy, Joe Koprowski

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.