How the Heckler do you get a CGI thumb to climb a mountain and make it feel like it Belongs

Belong and Howatson+Company came to Heckler looking to build on the existing success of the NFT character animations previously created by Heckler we have all seen throughout the most recent Belong campaigns. They required a thumb climbing Mount Everest which is an unreal idea but needed it to feel real in execution. As much as all of the teams involved would love a trip to Nepal, the project was naturally suited to Heckler’s CGI capabilities.

The premise of the campaign is how far the average Australian’s thumb travels across our screens each month. The answer: 8.09km. That is the height of the world’s most famous summit, Mount Everest, every month. If our collective thumbs are traveling these distances, that is a lot of carbon. Who better to share this interesting fact in an engaging and slightly weird fashion than Australia’s first carbon neutral internet provider, Belong.

The great thing with CGI is you can do almost anything. Place the camera anywhere. Defy the laws of gravity. To feel real though, to feel like the campaign was shot actually ascending the summit, we needed constraint. We needed to choose angles, generate shots, place and move the camera in a way conventional cinematographers could achieve. We needed snow hitting lens. We needed POVs shot by our hero Thumbie. We needed empathy and relatability to pull viewers into our hero’s mission.

The process started with wireframing. With such a clear brief and understanding of the required scenes, we set about establishing the content and establishing where and how our hero could live in this world.With the mass established environment, we set about bringing reality to the virtual world. The directors were clear, the treatment needed a realness that sat juxtaposed to the weirdness of the concept. The user had to go on this journey with our hero who was quite clearly a disembodied extremity. The lighting, texturing, weather, and camera shake all required the nuance of cinemagraphic box office release.

The resulting spectacle strikes the balance between a treacherous Himalayan mountainscape and comical story telling to spread the Belong message, if your thumb is clocking up the miles, you don’t need to clock up your carbon footprint. Nor do you have to travel to Nepal on foot to shoot a larger than life-like campaign. We have CGI for that.