How USW animation experts brought Welsh dragon to life

The USW team who worked with Cadw/Equinox Communications to produce an animated dragon to promote welsh castles, and the Wales team's success in Euro 2016.

The USW team, who created the flying Welsh dragon advert to promote the castles of Wales

A TEAM of computer animation, 3D art and visual effects experts has helped to bring the Welsh dragon to life in a stunning advert promoting the castles of Wales.

The group of 12 students and graduates of the University of South Wales (USW) – under the leadership of director Dominic Pugh, a 3D art specialist - have put together a summer advert for Cadw, the Welsh Government's historic environment service.

In the advert, the mythical animal – whose head and front claws have been ‘emerging’ from the ground in the grounds of Caerphilly Castle for the past few months - comes to life on-screen. It then flies across Wales – starting in Caerphilly, then passing over Chepstow Castle, Cardiff Bay, Harlech Castle, and then finally landing back at Caernarfon Castle.

USW was approached after Equinox, Cadw’s marketing agency, saw a video made at the institution which mimics a scene from Jurassic Park – in which a T Rex smashes through the windows of the University’s Atrium Campus in Cardiff.

For Dominic and his team, it’s been an exciting project to be involved in – and one that will showcase their creative talents.

“After course lecturer, Gareth Hutchinson, was approached by Cadw to make the advert, he asked me to put together a team and manage the production of the film,” Dominic said.

“We met with Equinox, the team behind the dragon, at Caerphilly Castle to talk in depth about the project, and they were extremely enthusiastic about deferring to our creative knowledge. They gave us an open brief with only a few conditions concerning duration and locations.

“And, of course, who doesn’t want to create a giant dragon flying around castles!

“Having such an open brief gave us all the opportunity to add our own creative flair to each aspect of the production.

“The great thing for me was that we had all the expertise and facilities on hand at USW’s Cardiff Campus.

“Also, working on an external brief, with a real-life client, and to deadline, is something that has been great for everyone involved, and one that will give the team members valuable experience of the world of work.”

Zara Cottle, Director at Equinox, added: “It’s been a great experience working with the team at USW. The students’ work is such high quality and being able to involve them in a live brief for Welsh Government will hopefully help their career prospects as well as giving us a truly unique look at Welsh heritage.

“Unlike an academic project, we are looking for real results from this video, an increase in awareness and desire to visit Welsh castles and ultimately an increase in visitor numbers over summer.”

Gareth Hutchinson, USW Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for BA (Hons) Computer Animation, who helped put the CG/VFX production team together, added: “This is just the sort of project we are training our students to be involved with. The Cadw officials were so impressed with the abilities on show in the T Rex video, that they asked us to bring their dragon to life.

“The current students and recent graduates in the team have done us and Wales proud, and this project highlights how the country is leading the way in producing individuals who will lead the next generation of creative practitioners.”


The production – in numbers:

3 - weeks in pre-production

9 - weeks in production

4,623 - production hours

270 – pre-production hours

893 - miles travelled in car to filming locations

397 - miles on train to filming locations

5 - locations

9 - extras for filming 

#graphics #computer animation #animation