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New Mill Spot is for the Birds


New Mill Spot is for the Birds

Visual Effects House The Mill lent a touch of Hitchcock to a new ad campaign illustrating how Arca Ex trades $14 billion in U.S. shares a day. In a spot titled “Birds,” an unsuspecting couple is sitting on a park bench throwing popcorn to a few hungry pigeons when they become inundated by a sea of birds.

The spot required a significant amount of 2D and 3D work from both The Mill’s London and New York offices. The project was the first to truly exploit the connectivity between the two locations via The Mill’s recently installed dedicated 45Mb pipeline, which links flame suites and CG workstations across the Atlantic. This new pipeline allows broadcast quality material to be sent in half-realtime, giving the offices the ability to work in tandem.

“Birds” saw a lot of input from The Mill’s 3D team, led by Ben Smith. For research, the crew spent a day with a pigeon fancier in London’s East End to study things like wing structure. In order to create a convincing and varied mass of birds, Smith and team created 3D pigeons, black birds, starlings and cow birds.

Meanwhile, the Mill N.Y. team was busy creating a bank of animation cycles for flying, flapping, pecking, walking, perching and landing. These would be applied to tens of thousands of unique birds, which required a particle goal simulation system to make them all look as though they were heading for the same area while maintaining realistic distribution both in the air and on the ground.

The spot was produced by The Mill’s Verity Grantham and Melanie Wickham for agency Fallon Minneapolis. It can be viewed via BEAM.TV at


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