For Christmas 2018, John Lewis & Partners tell the story of how some gifts can be more than just a gift. And how one gift in particular inspired, changed and influenced the course of a little boy's life. That little boy just happens to be Elton John.
The advert opens in the present day with a shot of the musician sat at his piano playing the opening notes of the iconic “Your Song” before going back in time to chart his meteoric rise to stardom. Eventually we are shown the origin of his talents: a piano gifted to him for Christmas by his mother and grandmother.
Cultural / Context information for the jury
In the run up to the festive period, the battle of the Christmas adverts is something of a phenomena in the UK. As the widely recognized reigning champions, there is always a palpable excitement and huge amount of speculation around John Lewis & Partners offering. With a heartwarming tale starring superstar Elton John, plus some incredible VFX magic, 2018 was no exception…
Tell the jury about the visual effects and summarise any relevant challenges or techniques.
Almost every shot included VFX work. The close-up shots of Elton John had near full CG replacements of the face, and every shot (even the wide shots) had manipulation to correct the proportions. Every shot of a concert crowd or stadium had full CGI environments; even the transitions from one scene to another had to be constructed from several takes at different locations and times, each synced to the music to be as smooth as possible.
Creating a photo-realistic human face is one of the greatest challenges in CG, with the risk of falling short being that the viewer is unable to connect and sense something is wrong. Extensive work and detail went into every shot to get the light to look right at a distance, even the smallest details of skin pours needed to be there.