Greenpeace dumps a stadium of CG oil onto a Rugby World Cup match

After flooding Westminster with a sea of rubbish, Studio Birthplace is back with 1.5 billion voxels of crude oil.

30 August 2023


Who can forget Wasteminster? In easily one of the most memorable campaigns of 2021, Studio Birthplace used CG to carry Boris Johnson through Downing Street on a tide of plastic trash – 1.8 million kilograms to be precise, the exact amount the UK exports on a daily basis. Now, Greenpeace France has released the next instalment with Studio Birthplace and Park Village, flooding a rugby match with crude oil.

TotalPollution protests fossil fuel sponsorship of major sporting events like the Rugby World Cup 2023, which is sponsored by TotalEnergies. In particular, directors Sil van der Woerd and Jorik Dozy wanted to draw attention to the fact that the fossil fuel industry produces a stadium worth of oil every three hours and 37 minutes. So Studio Birthplace did the maths and staged a CG simulation set in the Stade de France stadium, where the first World Cup game will be played between France and New Zealand on 8 September 2023.

“We felt that the language we established [on Wasteminster] was so effective it would be a shame to stop there,” Studio Birthplace tells It’s Nice That. “Where TotalPollution differs is its momentum, as the film releases one week before the opening game of the Rugby World Cup.”

There are also differences in scale. While Wasteminster used about 80 mannequins, TotalPollution features about 80,000. “The biggest challenge was to create these massive oil simulations that had to dynamically interact with the crowds and players. Some of the simulations contained north of 1.5 billion voxels (3D pixels), which required lots of computing power and patience. Through precise planning, being smart about recycling simulations and digital storyboarding the team was able to complete these massive simulations within the deadline and with a very minimal crew.”

Conceptually, TotalPollution feels darker than the more slapstick Wasteminster, which is why the use of mannequins were crucial. “We used mannequins because they are a great representation of us, yet they allow us to have a bit more fun with them. Drowning a stadium full of mannequins in crude oil is a lot less graphic than drowning a crowd of real people,” says Jorik Dozy and Sil van der Woerd.

Greenpeace hopes these attention-grabbing tricks will draw attention to what it calls the “greenwashing” tactics used by fossil fuel companies. “Integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect – those are rugby values. But fossil fuel companies like TotalEnergies piggyback those values by sponsoring popular sports events like the Rugby World Cup, to distract everyone from their climate destruction,” says Edina Ifticene, campaigner at Greenpeace France.

GalleryStudio Birthplace / Park Village: TotalPollution: A Dirty Game (Copyright © Greenpeace / Studio Birthplace, 2023)

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Studio Birthplace / Park Village: TotalPollution: A Dirty Game (Copyright © Greenpeace, 2023)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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