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Norwegian animation outfit Gimpville faced a momentous task when asked to render a commercial celebrating insurance company Gjensidige’s 200th anniversary. But thanks to experience with clients such as Ikea and Volkswagen – and with creative support from Redshift – the studio knew it could deliver an animation befitting of such a long legacy.

Dividing its output between commercials and feature film, the Oslo-based VFX and animation outfit Gimpville has delivered on a huge number of successful projects over its 14 years of operation. From feature films like Troll Hunter, Headhunters and League of Gods, to visual campaigns for world-leading companies Volkswagen, Ikea and Burger King, the studio has established itself as one of Norway’s major post-production players.

So, when insurance specialist Gjensidige wanted to mark its momentous bicentenary with a commercial animation that explored its Scandinavian roots, Gimpville was the obvious creative agency to approach.

Read on to learn how Gimpville helped deliver a rustic-style animation that celebrated Gjensidige’s two centuries of operation, and how Redshift played an important part in making it a reality.

Scandinavian success

There aren’t many companies that can lay claim to two centuries of successful business. It’s a rare and impressive feat – and one that couldn’t go uncelebrated.

Gjensidige wanted to commemorate the occasion with a stop-motion-style animation that travels back to to the era of the company’s original founding. In order to make the idea a reality, the Gimpville animation had to capture the physicality of stop motion, while also delivering renders that conveyed an old-world feel of wooden lodgings, coastal fjords, and bright green pastures.

“It was a great challenge – this project really pushed our team to explore their skill set,” begins Lars Erik Hansen, producer and VFX supervisor at Gimpville. “The project director was Karate Kid director Harald Zwart. Working with a Hollywood director meant a certain level of quality was expected from the visuals, and we feel we achieved it. We’re really proud of the end product!”

In the Gjensidige project, the homespun, claymation-esque renders reveal a variety of eye-catching visuals, from towering structures built of timber to runaway carts powering along old dirt roads, all occurring within a beautiful pastoral environment.

“One of the challenges we faced was to make it all look natural,” says Hansen. “We wanted to achieve that look of older, traditional animations, so we used a lot of scanned elements and displacements, making sure we textured everything.”

The commercial is certainly bursting with subtle detail. Trees are lush with individual leaves, the embroidery on fabric can be seen if you pause on a frame, and effects like motion blur and depth of field give each scene a tactile feel.

“Getting all the detail in there was essential to making the project work: we wanted achieve a detailed analogue aesthetic. That could have taken us a lot of time and effort – but we had Redshift on our side.”

Rendering with Redshift

Fine CG detail traditionally means prolonged rendering times; and prolonged rendering times means slower turnaround on creative iteration. On a project intended to celebrate 200 years of renowned service, that simply wasn’t good enough. That’s why Gimpville turned to Redshift.

The decision originally came via Gimpville partner and Redshift advocate Alf Lovvold, who used the renderer to produce his polished concept trailer for Dawn of the Stuff.

“Lovvold isn’t reliant on the same pipeline as Gimpville, so he was able to try out Redshift and let us know what he thought of it,” says Hansen. “He was so impressed that he instantly recommended it to us, and we were equally impressed – we immediately deployed Redshift across the Gimpville pipeline!

“Once we had Redshift set up we noticed the sheer speed of production increase in a big way,” he continues. “We could render more frames on fewer computers – something that saved us a lot of time and money.”

Using Redshift, Gimpville found it could pump out more renders for client review, while also spending more time seeking out elements in each frame in need of improvement.

“Our workflow accelerated hugely, ultimately reducing the delays in providing clients with updates,” says Hansen. “We were able to render corrections in only a few hours – that’s a huge advantage in the fast-paced world of post-production

The implementation of Redshift has also enabled Gimpville to realise a goal that would have been far beyond budgetary constraints if working in the realm of CPU renders: the team now has a cost-effective solution for building a render server. “That’s something we’ve sought after for quite some time,” asserts Hansen.

With Redshift deeply integrated into its workflow and a more robust render infrastructure planned for the future, Gimpville is fully equipped to continue delivering projects as visually stunning as that crafted for Gjensidige – and beyond.

“Redshift has been fantastic,” concludes Hansen. “The impact was instant and tangible. We’ll be using Redshift across all of our projects from this point on.”