The Discovery Channel series Shark Week’s latest TV spot appears to be both horrifying and entertaining viewers everywhere.
The advert features a fake local news report, where a conservation group is preparing to release a rescued (likely 3D model) seal, Snuffy, back into the wild just off the Jersey Shore. As they lower the creature into the ocean via crane, a massive shark leaps from the water and snatches the animal back into the depths. The crowd on camera reacts with abject horror, as have some social media users in the real world. Unsurprisingly, the commercial’s shock value has caused it to go viral online.
Oh my gosh.. Snuffy the seal (shark week commercial http://t.co/vp0yDyg0VO
— Julia Wease ? (@lilJweaZy) June 27, 2013
— Andrew Holstein (@asholstein) June 27, 2013
I've been an emotional basket case ever since I saw that shark kill Snuffy the Seal.
— Conner Morris (@ConnerSaurusRex) June 24, 2013
Poor Snuffy… Watch this new 'Shark Week' spot and let us know if it left you laughing, or a bit disturbed…. http://t.co/uOxO9AQ1aV
— FOX 2 News | WJBK (@FOX2News) June 27, 2013
— Jennifer Fink (@JenLFink) June 27, 2013
— HollywoodLife (@HollywoodLife) June 27, 2013
The attack on Snuffy is, of course, 3D generated as animal rights groups would hardly tolerate a provoked attack by a real shark on a real seal. However, the fact that the sequence appeared real enough to provoke such an emotional reaction from viewers is further evidence of just how far 3D technology has come. While we have been on the receiving end of ”thought it was real” claims for several years, 3D models have become nearly impossible to decipher between real world objects, live animals and even people. Use of photorealistic content is often employed in a fictional setting without requiring a suspension of disbelief nor, as in the case of Snuffy the Seal, a violation of ethical boundaries. We have come a long way from the days of films such as Jaws, where creating a realistic shark attack required complex animatronics and a massive budget. Today, filmmakers looking to shock or horrify their viewers almost universally choose 3D models to bring their ideas to life. Just look at how terrifying the 3D monsters in 2012’s Cabin in the Woods are!
Of course, even 3D models used to require a huge budget if you wished to avoid having your film turn into a comical disaster. For example, check out this outrageous sequence from the 2009 low-budget sci-fi flick, Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus.
The exciting difference between then and now is that photorealistic 3D models have become inexpensive enough that they are available not just to big Hollywood studios, but also for producers working on tighter budgets, including ad agencies working on thirty-second TV spots. The “Snuffy” spot is just one in a long line of Discovery Channel ads that has relied on the magic of CGI to entice viewers; some even starring models from the Turbosquid catalog.
So if you’re looking to recreate a “seal snuff-out” of your own, be sure to have a peek at some of these terrors of the deep!