December 27, 2006


Throughout the spot the young girl grows older and continues to enjoy Coke as her life reaches its milestones - dating, marriage, children and grandkids. The spot closes with the now older woman back at the storefront, showing her granddaughter the holiday display. When Santa shows up, she presents him with a Coke, as a sign of her appreciation of his involvement in her wonderful life.

The Greatest Gift was directed by Kerry Conran of production company Looking Glass. Framestore NY contributed extensive 2D and 3D animation, particularly to the small, snow-covered town, and the large, bright-eyed Santa Claus.
"Initially, our main job was to imbue Santa Claus with some seriously augmented Christmas spirit," explains Framestore VFX Supervisor David Hulin, adding that the studio then went on to provide numerous other effects. "We ended up designing and building every single element in CG, including all the buildings, vehicles, and props in the toy and real villages, as well as the falling and ground snow in every scene. We also completely recreated Santa's face."
The small village setting is based on Madurodam, a popular tourist attraction in the Netherlands. For previsualization purposes, the studio performed a Lidar scan of the tiny village that resulted in 50 3D models that had to be pieced together. The team had to recreate the village in 3D in five different time periods, as well as light the set ups.

"It was definitely a lot of work to do in just two months," says Murray Butler, lead Flame artist at Framestore. "We created the whole spot in HD and at full 12-bit resolution, so this was a little like undertaking :60 of film work in a couple of months. We literally modeled everything in all these versions of the village, so it was pretty intense."
Extensive color grading - performed in Flame - helped achieve the proper look for the different periods represented.

In recreating the face of Santa Claus, Framestore was charged with the task of making actor Ken Howard (The White Shadow) resemble the character in the old Coca-Cola ads painted by artist Haddon Sunblom. The studio did a complete scan of his head, then created a CG model. The model was then manipulated to augment the cheeks, nose, lips, and eyes, all of which were then brought into Flame for further enhancement.

Mindy Dubin and Pedro Sabrosa were Flame artists on the project. Maryanne Lauric, Chris Coleman and Talia Marash assisted with Flame work. CG artists on the job included David Hulin, Andy Walker, Jenny Bischel, Seth Gollub, Theo Jones, Szymon Weglarski, Jon Parker, Spencer Lueders, Irene Kim, Andy Ortiz, Jim Hundertmark, Hungkit Ma, Joon Lee, Jon Dorfman, Laurence Peguy, Michael Borhi, Daren Horley and Mark Tudor-Williams. Nathan Hughes served as matte painter.