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What would the Moon say if it visited the Earth? With Sky Zero and Engine Creative | #BehindTheIdea

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Imagine the wonder if an outsider suddenly came down upon the Earth to admire all its beauty. Endless oceans, creatures and colours stretching out thousands of miles – something so precious that anyone would want to protect it.

With an interesting twist on the 'alien-visits-the-earth' narrative, Engine Creative partnered with Sky Zero to literally bring the Moon down to Earth. What the Moon saw wasn't always great – but amidst all the gloom in certain parts of the globe, hope stood out as a wishful outlook on the future.

Ahead of the COP26, Sky wished to launch the new Sky Zero brand to the public, whilst positioning the company as a leader in the debate on the climate crisis. The stunning piece of animation couldn't be more fit for the purpose.

Tidal and gravitational disasters can wait, when the Moon descending on Earth is so peacefully evocative, romantic and unique. Today we are getting Behind The Idea with Pete Ioulianou and Ollie Agius – Creatives at Engine Creative – to learn more about the beautiful piece of animation below.

What was the brief?

Pete: The brief was really to launch the new Sky Zero brand to the public. But also position them as a leading, positive voice in climate change communication. 

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

Ollie: Pretty early on in the process we stumbled across a phenomenon called the Overview Effect. It’s something only astronauts have been lucky enough to experience when they look back at Earth from space for the first time. With that unique point of view, they can see the one place that holds every person, animal, thing that’s ever been. To see all of that on one rock floating in a sea of nothingness makes you realise how lucky but also how vulnerable we really are. It must be mind blowing to experience something like that. And to be honest, it blew our minds too just trying to process it. We knew we needed someone or something to see Earth for the first time in order to give the audience that fresh perspective. That would be key for making people fall in love with our home again and in turn inspiring them to make a change.

Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

Pete: The Moon has watched over our planet since before time began. We thought there was no better character to visit our home and remind us of the wonder it holds. But also, to highlight the uncomfortable truth that climate change is having a devastating impact on the things we love.

The script was originally written as an alien visiting Earth but something didn’t feel quite right. It was too fictional and familiar as a story. The Moon seemed a lot more fitting and something we’d never seen before. As soon as we started mocking up images of a giant Moon on Earth, we knew we had something unique and powerful.

What was the production process like? What was the biggest challenge?

Ollie: Tricky. Obviously, with us making a film about going Net Zero Carbon we couldn’t be flying round the world to film it. That and a global pandemic thrown in meant our hands were tied a bit to say the least. That said, animation felt like the right thing to do for the storytelling aspect and also for the environmental impact. However, working remotely with some of the team in LA and others in London and Bordeaux was probably the biggest challenge. 

What is one funny or notable thing that happened during the production of the campaign?

Pete: I wouldn’t call it funny but the COVID-19 pandemic took hold about a month after we wrote the script. We weren’t sure whether the ad would get made. In the end, the production budget was slashed in half which meant we had to change a few things but we were just happy it was still going ahead (and to be alive at that point!).

What’s the main message of the campaign and why does it matter?

Pete: The main message is really all about optimism. So many films about climate change use shock or scare tactics and generally make you feel “the world’s about to end so what’s the point?” We wanted to do the opposite and fill people with hope whilst still acknowledging that things needed to improve.  

What is one unique aspect of the campaign?

Ollie: The one thing we’re most proud of was pulling off bringing the moon down to Earth. To have executed a unique story that hopefully inspires an audience about a complicated issue is exactly what we set out to do. There’s also a little part of us that hopes that when people look up to the moon at night, they’re reminded of our story and that we need to look after our home. 

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

Pete: The film took 19 months from script to screen. It was a bumpy road to say the least but the level of craft and detail in every single shot meant that we couldn’t rush this film out. Plus, let’s just say there were multiple layers of approval. 

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

Ollie: We hope our film inspires people to think positively about tackling climate change. We still have a chance to put things right. This film isn’t the whole answer, but we do hope it sparks a change in perception of the task ahead and that our home is worth fighting for.

Credit list for the campaign?

EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Leon Jaume
SENIOR CREATIVES: Pete Ioulianou, Ollie Agius
HEAD OF FILM: Melody Sylvester
AGENCY PRODUCER: Melody Sylvester, Elena Sanz
STRATEGY DIRECTOR: Georgina Murray-Burton
BUSINESS DIRECTOR: Rich Williams
ACCOUNT DIRECTOR: Owen Keating
ACCOUNT MANAGER: Tom Butler
PROJECT DIRECTOR: Louise Watts
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Partizan Studio
DIRECTOR: Pete Candeland, Partizan Studio
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Duncan Gaman & Jenny Beckett, Partizan Studio
PRODUCER: Janet Smith, Partizan Studio
PRODUCTION MANAGER: Theo Cassels, Partizan Studio
IMAGE RESEARCHER / LAYOUT: Eugenie Scrase, Partizan Studio & Natalia Risheq, Crew
CONCEPT ARTIST: Daniel Cacoult, Crew
CONCEPT ARTIST, CHARACTER DESIGN: Lukasz Pazera, Crew
CHARACTER DESIGN: (Julien Renoult) Leeroy Vanilla, Crew
CONCEPT ARTIST, STORYBOARDS: Kristian Antonelli, Crew
LOOK OF PICTURE CONCEPT: Michael Kutsche, Crew
EDITOR: Brian Raess, Sky0
VFX SUPERVISOR: Antoine Moulineau, Light VFX
ANIMATION PRODUCTION: LIGHT VFX
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Guillaume Raffi, LIGHT VFX
ART DIRECTOR: Aurelien Ronceray, LIGHT VFX
CG SUPERVISOR: Raphaël Bot-Gartner, LIGHT VFX
CREATURE SUPERVISOR: Duc Nguyen, LIGHT VFX
ASSET SUPERVISOR: Tom Bryant, LIGHT VFX
FX SUPERVISOR: Fabian Nowak, LIGHT VFX
COMPOSITING SUPERVISOR: Oliver Johnstone, LIGHT VFX
RIGGING SUPERVISOR: Cyril Gibaud, LIGHT VFX
LEAD CG GENERALIST: Landry de Oliveira & Harry Bardak
CONCEPT ARTIST / MATTE PAINTER: Lukasz Pazera & Carl Edlund
LIGHTING TD: Marie Fichet, Éloise Bouvarel & Bruno Hajnal
SENIOR FX TD: Steven Dupuy, Charles Guerton & Tom Freitag
CREATURE FX TD: Yann Landry
CREATURE AND GROOM ARTIST: Chloé Roberts
CG GENERALIST: Florian Longuet, Louise Harel, Steve Bell, Craig Reid, Daniel Conner, Thomas Goldsworthy, Lauren McLaughlin
ANIMATION SUPERVISOR: Landouzy Florian, LIGHT VFX
LEAD ANIMATOR: Thibaut Gouilloux, LIGHT VFX
ANIMATOR: Léo Recoche, Sydney Padua, Rik Goddard, LIGHT VFX
RIGGER: Eléonore Epiney, Mickaël Garcia, Guillaume Vezzoli
COMPOSITOR: Chloé Chaucheprat, Tomasz Liksza, Naomi Butler, LIGHT VFX
PRODUCER: Lucy Teire, Alona Carballo, LIGHT VFX
POST PRODUCTION: Engine Film - James McClean, Editor
POST PRODUCTION: Framestore - Steffan Perry, colorist & Chris Anthony, Senior colour producer
SOUND DESIGN: Jack Sedgwick, sound engineer, Wave

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