“Extreme by Nature”: BBC’s fantastic Winter Olympics advert reveals 3D printed sets

As the 2022 Winter Olympics just around the corner, we can expect several appearances or solutions made from 3D printing unveiled as was the case for the Tokyo Olympics which ran from 23 July – 8 August 2021.

The first one to make a real splash for this sporting event is an advert that has recently been aired by the BBC (British Broadcast Corporation). Named ‘Extreme by Nature’, the communication company unveils a 40-second-long trailer that evokes the harsh conditions faced by the Olympians through a mix of stop motion animation, 3D printed sets, and in-camera effects.

I really admire people having the will to push things to the limits,” says Balázs Simon who directed the trailer through Blinkink production company. “What could be a better example for that than the Olympics? Especially the Winter Games where they compete in environments that are so different from our usual experiences. When I got approached for this project, the biggest question for me was how to portray and live up to that dedication … we wanted to portray them being born into ice and snow and eventually breaking out.

The video that may look computer-generated at first, features 3D printed props created by 3M Buckley Innovation Centre and miniature model work by ScaleModelStudios. While no information has been given on the manufacturing process of these props, Simon said in an interview with Creative Review that creating this film was quite a challenge.

My personal favourite task was coming up with a solution for the camerawork in the snow scenes. To get a first-hand experience of the characters’ efforts, I wanted to bring the viewer as close to them as possible: a great example of how a seemingly simple creative decision could grow into a big web of intertwined technical challenges.

The solution for the team was a complex mix of 3D printed scenes and camera moves. “We started to think about cameras differently: some of their motion would be directly ‘printed’, and some would be actual movement of the control rig,” Simon explains.

The small space of the 3D printed cubes helped to squeeze the environment the Olympians play, by expressing their speed and sense of movement.

Even though it doesn’t mention China, the host country, this AD is the first to reveal an appropriation of 3D printing for the movie and sport industries and we can’t wait to discover more.

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