Virgin Atlantic safety film references classic movie genres

As we have written about a bit lately, airlines are becoming increasingly imaginative with their in-flight videos. Virgin Atlantic is the latest brand to reinvent its safety film, with this charming animation that serves as a journey through different film genres…

As we have written about a bit lately, airlines are becoming increasingly imaginative with their in-flight videos. Virgin Atlantic is the latest brand to reinvent its safety film, with this charming animation that serves as a journey through different film genres…

The film, which is created by design studio Art & Graft, opens with a character drifting off to sleep as the safety film begins. As he sleeps, he dreams his way through the flight info which is presented in various classic film styles, including Western, Film Noir, Action, and Sixties Psychedelia. A voiceover that delivers the info also changes to suit each genre featured.

“Virgin Atlantic required a film that was not only in line with the safety regulations from the Civil Aviation Authority, but would also be innovative, entertaining and align with the brand marketing and advertising,” says Mike Moloney, founder of Art & Graft, of the film. “Alongside this it also needed appeal to a wide audience to suit the demographic of Virgin Atlantic travellers. They were keen to have a clean, fluid style and animation provided the perfect medium as it allows for longevity and versatility. As the final video will be shown thousands of times weekly, it was also essential that it had a cheeky Virgin Atlantic edge, ‘flying in the face of ordinary’.”

Moloney and the team came up with the idea of using different film genres for the pitch. “We’re all big film geeks in the studio,” he continues, “and doing a mini versions of all our favourite movie genres sounded like great fun from the start. It seemed to fit in nicely with Virgin Atlantic too, being known for their amazing range of onboard entertainment. After discussing various options, it also appeared that it was a rather inclusive concept: everybody (or almost everybody) loves films, and can recognise some (maybe all) of the references.”

The film is created using a combination of 3D and 2D animation techniques. “All the character animation was produced using a traditional frame-by-frame technique,” says Moloney. “Very labour intensive, especially when creating a six minute film, but the results look beautiful and are extremely rewarding!

“Elements throughout the film were modelled in 3D; allowing us to ’wrap’ our illustrations around these models to keep the illustrative feel yet giving the scenes fantastic depth and space. This allowed all the camera angles to be planned out and ensure the 2D characters could then be animated in each scene with the addition of further textures and casted shadows. This approach also allowed the camera to travel around and through the scenes, giving a rich and filmic feel to the animation.”

The film replaces Virgin Atlantic’s original animated in-flight film, which was created by Nexus Productions in 2002 and had been used since. That film is shown below:

Art & Graft’s piece also comes hot on the heels of a clutch of recent, creative safety film offerings from airlines. Here’s some of our other faves:

Delta Airlines’ 80s style film

Air New Zealand’s Hobbit themed film


Virgin America’s Glee-ful film

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