Watch: How This Gatorade Ad Brought Water to Life Without a Drop of CGI

Using a "liquid printer" and strobe photography, this Gatorade ad is definitely one of the coolest videos you'll see this week.

Sometimes a video comes along that reminds you of how infinitely creative human beings can be. The G Active ad for Gatorade is one of them. It has been making its rounds all over the interwebz, but just in case you've been on a tech fast for the last month, this video features what is essentially a human made of water droplets doing a bunch of athletic stuff, like running, jumping, and kicking a heavy bag. Sounds cool, right? The coolest thing, though, is that it was all done without CGI. Check out the ad below, and then continue on to find out how it was done.

Now, who is the genius (or geniuses) behind this incredible ad? UK-based production company Unit9 called upon DP James Medcraft to lens this thing, as well as come up with an innovative way to bring this water-droplet athlete to life.

Working with Unit9, Machine Shop, ARRI Rental, and Mark Roberts Motion Control, the team came up with the idea to build a 3D liquid printer that was able to print life-size models from motion capture data. This alone would be pretty cool—seeing a sheet of water in the shape of a human running in place—but in the words of Sarah Silverman, "That's been done."

So, the team took it a step further and captured the 3D liquid prints using high-speed sync flash with the ARRI Alexa 65 and Milo Motion control, something Medcraft says is a "technical world first." The main problem the team had to figure out was how to expose and photograph the water droplets precisely enough to create a stop motion animation, an extremely complex process that is detailed in the behind-the-scenes video below.

"In 5 shoot days and 11 days in the studio we created a life-sized animated human, created entirely from liquid that moves and interacts with physical space like a real human."

Needless to say, this video is absolutely incredible and unlike anything we've seen before. The design of the "Rain Rig," the unique use of the 3D liquid printer, and the innovative process of animating it all reminds us of just how far we can take our medium if we have the creativity and drive to do it.     

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Your Comment


Woww... Awesome.
Creativity has no limits.

June 11, 2017 at 1:30AM

Sameir Ali
Director of Photography

So... not a drop of CGI but still using a 3D software, 3D rig, motion capture and probably some animator cleaning up that mocap data to do it. Feels like quite a lot of CG going into this. It's still cool concept, not as "in camera" as they are trying to sell it :)

June 11, 2017 at 9:18PM


When they say "in camera" I believe they are referring to the fact that the water drops and animation was captured in camera and the water person is not a CG element. Of course there was 3D software and hardware to do this, you can't have someone manually trigger 2,500 triggers of water drops at perfect times. Then there will always be some polish within post to clean up water or add something to enhance an effect. CG would be if they completely made the water person out of particles in the 3D software. So yeah, pretty much "All content captured in camera" as you can get with something so innovative.

June 12, 2017 at 8:53AM


Agreed, I understand the concept. My comment was more towards the title of the article over the production itself. It's supposed to be a bit of a joke but turns out to be misleading.

June 20, 2017 at 8:22PM


If you watch the BTS, when they show the raw and final versions, you can see that it's being illuminated by continuous large light sources on either side of the set, and the strobe soft boxes are CGI or comped in for the final version.

June 12, 2017 at 2:16PM

Dan Hoene

Brilliant. I nearly wet myself watching this...

June 13, 2017 at 9:18AM

David Patterson

Congratulations Unit 9!

July 7, 2017 at 11:54AM, Edited July 7, 11:54AM