The first-ever human figure made from 100% liquid. Animated in mid air, without CGI.
To launch Gatorade’s new energy drink Unit9 made a true-to-life water athlete, animated it in mid air, and caught it on camera.
The technical infrastructure was designed and built in less than ten weeks, bringing together more than 20,000 individual parts and custom-made components. More than 5000 man hours were taken up in the design and build of the system.
The custom-made “rain rig” dripped water in complete sequence and harmony, to recreate the figure of a real athlete – in a liquid animation. Each unit contained 64 litres of water, with 8 units running at any one time – a total of half a tonne of water to bring the system together.
To make the water character true-to-life, Unit9 motion-captured a human athlete running, jumping and kickboxing. Data from the motion capturing informed their water rig when to turn its nozzles on and off.
A series of 2,048 switches turned the water pressure on and off – at millisecond intervals – triggering the droplets at exactly the right moment. Then they used flash-lighting to illuminate and “suspend” the water droplets in mid air, with millimeter and microsecond accuracy for each frame. Meaning an entire layer of data was transmitted through the entire system in just a microsecond.
Unit9 had to take each frame and process it in two ways. First to squash it, to compensate for gravitational acceleration, and second to slice it. The data for each frame was stored in a controller unit and triggered by the camera.
To have the camera positioned at the right angle for the shot, the water rig was programmed to synch with our motion control team. Every time their motion control specialists set a camera synch and a flash, the water was dropped at that precise moment.