Tag Archives: commercial

Asahi beer spot gets the VFX treatment

A collaboration between The Monkeys Melbourne, In The Thicket and Alt, a newly released Asahi campaign takes viewers on a journey through landscapes built around surreal Japanese iconography. Watch Asahi Super Dry — Enter Asahi here.

From script to shoot — a huge operation that took place at Sydney’s Fox Studios — director Marco Prestini and his executive producer Genevieve Triquet (from production house In The Thicket) brought on the VFX team at Alt to help realize the creative vision.

The VFX team at Alt (which has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles) worked with Prestini to help design and build the complex “one shot” look, with everything from robotic geishas to a gigantic CG squid in the mix, alongside a seamless blend of CG set extensions and beautifully shot live-action plates.

“VFX supervisor Dave Edwards and the team at Alt, together with my EP Genevieve, have been there since the very beginning, and their creative input and expertise were key in every step of the way,” explains Prestini. “Everything we did on set was the results of weeks of endless back and forth on technical previz, a process that required pretty much everyone’s input on a daily basis and that was incredibly inspiring for me to be part of.”

Dave Edwards, VFX supervisor at Alt, shares: “Production designer Michael Iacono designed sets in 3D, with five huge sets built for the shoot. The team then worked out camera speeds for timings based on these five sets and seven plates. DP Stefan Duscio would suggest rigs and mounts, which our team was able to then test it in previs to see if it would work with the set. During previs, we worked out that we couldn’t get the resolution and the required frame rate to shoot the high frame rate samurais, so we had to use Alexa LF. Of course, that also helped Marco, who wanted minimal lens distortion as it allowed a wide field of view without the distortion of normal anamorphic lenses.”

One complex scene involves a character battling a gigantic underwater squid, which was done via a process known as “dry for wet” — a film technique in which smoke, colored filters and/or lighting effects are used to simulate a character being underwater while filming on a dry stage. The team at Alt did a rough animation of the squid to help drive the actions of the talent and the stunt team on the day, before spending the final weeks perfecting the look of the photoreal monster.

In terms of tools, for concept design/matte painting Alt used Adobe Photoshop while previs/modeling/texturing/animation was done in Autodesk Maya. All of the effects/lighting/look development was via Side Effects Houdini; the compositing pipeline was built around Foundry Nuke; final online was completed in Autodesk Flame; and for graphics, they used Adobe After Effects.
The final edit was done by The Butchery.

Here is the VFX breakdown:

Enter Asahi – VFX Breakdown from altvfx on Vimeo.

Black Forest Gummy Bears get CG treatment and own reality show

A lush green forest and colorful organic gummies — what’s not to love? Especially when these gummies are naughty! In a new “reality series” for Black Forest Organic Gummy Bears, these fat-free snack foods throw forks at each other’s heads, aren’t afraid to toss around a curse word or two, and like to go streaking (don’t worry, their gummy naked-bits are pixelated).

Ferrara Candy Company called on NYC-based Shuttlecraft and Chicago-based ad agency Tom, Dick & Harry, Co. to help bring the The Real Gummies of the Black Forest to life, The campaign, which combines CG and live action, debuted this month with a teaser and the first three 30-second episodes: Dinner, Enhancements and Streakers.

“Shuttlecraft really captured the aesthetic we were going for, in amazing detail,” says Bob Volkman, Tom, Dick & Harry, creative /partner. “These are bears of privilege and their chaise lounge chairs had to be certifiably Baker or forget it. They definitely put their snooty hats on when crafting our miniature Black Forest.”

Shuttlecraft, which specializes in detailed and refined animation and CG, jumped on the opportunity to help realize the crazy, fun and quirky shenanigans of the Organics.

“After reading the scripts, we immediately knew that Tom, Dick & Harry had developed a great hook and characters that are genuinely authentic and funny,” says Ronnie Koff, executive creative director of Shuttlecraft. “I mean, where else are you going to see gummy bears streaking? We also recognized that in order to bring their concept to life, we needed to create CG gummies that could move around and interact believably with each other, all while looking juicy and delicious.”

For the project, Shuttlecraft channeled their experience in creating photoreal food for such clients as Hershey’s, Yoplait and Kellogg’s. In the creation of the set, model-makers and puppeteers David Bell and Joe Scarpulla hand-molded and sculpted a 1/12-scale version of the Black Forest measuring over eight feet long. Shuttlecraft also used a 3D printer to create many remaining set elements as well.

They also called on Nuke, After Effects, ZBrush, Maya/Arnold, Cinema4D/Arnold and PF Track.

Once the forest and the bears were complete, Shuttlecraft seamlessly combined the CG elements with its live-action plates. Tom, Dick & Harry then hired voice actors to bring to life the stars of The Real Gummies of the Black Forest. It took two weeks for the set build and the shoot, with the entire process taking a total of eight weeks.

Tips: From editing to directing

By Dave Henegar

Recently, I was asked by a client of mine to direct a national commercial. At first I thought, “What a fantastic opportunity!” Then reality set in. I realized that for the last 23 years I’ve been editing for some of the greatest commercial directors in the industry, but I had no idea how they did what they did.

So, naturally, I felt a mix of excitement and anxiety. After picking myself up off the floor, I thought about the many years I was lucky enough to work with such beautiful pieces, and my confidence grew as I recounted the varied and ingenious ways those directors told their stories. From the way they composed their images to the art direction of every meticulous detail. The great effort they put into connecting one shot to the next.

As their editor, I realized my life was much easier when all of those details were worked out well in advance. In fact, the worst projects I’ve worked on were the ones where directors set up many cameras and simply “captured” the action and said to themselves “we’ll figure it out in the edit.”

With that in mind, I set out on day one to craft a 30 second story that had a structure similar to the great directors I had worked with in the past. Thankfully, the commercial turned out to be a success, and I was proud of the final product.  In fact, there was very little I would change if I had to do it over.

So in light of the fact that I’ve only directed one commercial, I was asked to give my thoughts on making the leap into directing from editorial. Perhaps the best way to do that is to offer up the top five lessons I learned that may help other editors who dream of becoming directors.

1.  Pre-pro is more than half the battle
The day after I got the call from the agency I began drawing my own storyboards. I needed to understand quickly if I could pull off the grand concept the agency had presented. I must have drawn a hundred images. Like editing, I was rearranging shots in my head, but now I had to draw each one of those images and decide if they would work or not. Then came the process of the director’s treatment. Because I was a first-timer, I had to design and write the treatment myself. I took the treatment very seriously because I knew that it would be my one chance to prove that I understood what the client’s needs were and how to execute what the agency had carefully constructed. My words had to be clear and compelling — the images and layout had to be crafted and polished. Everything you present in your treatment is a reflection of your taste level. And lastly, location scouting is incredibly important. Design the perfect environment in your head before you begin your search, it will help you narrow down the vast number of images that will start pouring in from the location scouts.

2. Choose the Best Help You Can Afford
I would not have been able to achieve the look I wanted without the best cinematographer. Once I had secured best DP, I knew that he would bring with him his best keys. It’s a trickle down effect: choose the best and they’ll choose the best. The shoot day goes infinitely smoother and faster when the right people are in place.

3. Pay Close Attention to the Client
The client knows their audience far better than you will. You will be tempted to take their money and make the film of your dreams, but in my opinion that’s not what makes a good director. A good director is someone who can take the limitations and opportunities they’ve been handed and make an outstanding product.

4. Try Not to Edit Your Own Work
I believe that teamwork is better than a one-man-band. Talented teams can elevate a project. A talented editor will show you different ways in which your story could be told. As a director, it’s easy to get your storyboards firmly embedded in your head and simply edit what you had storyboarded. Let someone else you trust take your film in ways you didn’t expect.

5. Learn How to Present
Often times as editors we are required to say a few words before we press “play” for the first time. We may caveat the edit before showing it, saying something like “the sound is still rough” or “VFX aren’t in place yet.” Apart from that, we’re not required to go into great detail about deeper concepts. As a director, I learned that I was accountable for several hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for the vision I was trying to sell.  I have never spent so much time on the phone in my life!

Being a director is mostly about being a great communicator. You need to be able to effectively explain your concept and execution to the agency and the client — several times over! People who are prepared to plop down a six-figure check want to have everything explained to them in great detail. As well they should! If they’re paying the bill, they deserve to know what they’re getting for their money. Also being able to communicate with your crew is tremendously important. The more you communicate, the more respect you’ll get from those who are trying to help you bring your vision to life.  Respect everyone in your crew — period.

So that’s the top five, of what could easily be 25, things to think about when moving from editorial to directing.

To all my friends in editorial, I highly recommend trying it if you’ve not yet had the opportunity. It’s a challenging task but exciting. Take advantage of your many years of storytelling experience and put them behind the camera. It’s a humbling and exhilarating experience!

Dave Henegar is co-founder and editor at Butcher Post in Santa Monica.

Behind the Title: Wax’s Stephen Jess

NAME: Stephen Jess

COMPANY: New York City edit house Wax

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Wax is a boutique editorial company/creative collective/group of people who are committed to telling great stories — all kinds of stories.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE? Editor/Partner

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I’m cutting most days, and working with my partner Toni Lipari to create the opportunity for our Continue reading

Cut+Run helps man meet rasta dog in new Dr. Pepper spot

Cut+Run’s Steve Gandolfi recently edited a commercial for Dr. Pepper out of agency Deutsch LA and directed by Imperial Woodpecker’s Simon McQuiod. Mop Dog tells the tale of unlikely love story between a Dr. Pepper delivery driver and a dreadlocked dog in need of a home.

The spot begins by giving viewers a glimpse into this dog’s lonely life on the streets. He wanders over train tracks and through a town, stopping for a minute to look at a mop in a window… something the pooch seems to relate to more than the well-groomed dogs he sees being walked on the street by their owners.

Continue reading

Blur creates CG mischief, heroics for Skylanders spots

Ad agency 72andSunny called on Blur Studio to create CG characters and environments for two new 30-second commercials promoting Activision’s Skylanders game. Blur‘s Jeff Fowler directed Inside the Trap and a Trapping Kaos. Both feature a mix of live-action and CG as well as a fight between good and evil. It took 30 artists less than two months to complete the segments for both spots.

Jeff Fowler

Jeff Fowler

According to Fowler, “Blur’s Skylanders project began with one of our CG supervisors coming to my desk and saying, ‘If we don’t do this commercial, my son will never speak to me again.’ Never ones to shatter the dreams of children, our production staff quickly figured out a plan to fit this project into a VERY busy month for us. Sometimes the craziest schedules yield the most rewarding results, and our entire team was extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in six weeks.”

He continues, “Working with a tough little veggie warrior and a powerful super-dwarf armed with Traptanium-infused hammers spurred our creative energy to create something like none other. We had a blast bringing a little mayhem to the world of Skylanders, where we built a village and staged a cinematic battle scene between Gulper and Food Fight.”

“Both Blur and 72andSunny are built around collaborative cultures so we were all quick to jump in together, start laughing and shape where we wanted the project to go from the outset,” reports 72andSunny creative director Tim Wolfe. “It made for amazing sessions where everyone had a voice, egos were left at the door and we were all only interested in making the best video humanly possible.

Blur_Skylanders_03 new small Blur_Skylanders_04new small

“The level of visual detail and character development Blur brought to the project was incredible. They took an already rich and fun world of Skylanders and turned up the volume helping us make something truly unique and ground-breaking for the category,” said Wolfe.

Human Worldwide provided the music and sound design, while Sound Mix Lime Studios supplied the mix.

ArsenalFX provides VFX for two new Lexus spots via Team One

Santa Monica – VFX house ArsenalFX, which specializes in high-end commercial finishing, has produced visual effects for two new national Lexus spots out of agency Team One and shot by The Bandito Brothers.

“Shift,” which broke during the weekend after Thanksgiving, and “Say Nothing,” which aired for the first time on November 15 will initially be airing during in-game sports presentations.

In the “Shift” spot, we see the dashboard inside a silver Lexus GS performance sedan, as the driver pushes the start engine button, and speeds down a dark road at night illuminated by white lights blurring past. The driver shifts, then shifts, and then shifts again, through all eight speeds of a transmission.

The “Shift” spot (http://arsenalfx.gosimian.com/v2/sp/r/N1/1/s3NLvOMlzwJn1pwWOLTgwQ/ZGFuQGFzYnVyeXByLmNvbQ) involved ArsenalFX digitally removing vehicle front and rear sensors, and dirt, as well as some light spec removal on the vehicle itself. The entire conform of the spot consisted of variable speed alterations and motion estimation warps. Light effects were added by ArsenalFX to simulate the outer lights on interior shots. Road vibrations and vehicle movement were also simulated by Arsenal FX on all exterior road shots.

In addition, interior speed and RPM gauges were also reconstructed and redesigned by Arsenal FX (www.arsenalfx.tv) for proper speed manipulation. Rotoscoping and tracking was also used in various shots. To tie the full spot together, each shot had to be repo’d and resized for optimum viewing. A 2:35 letterbox was added by Arsenal FX for the final touch. They called on Flame for this one.

In the “Say Nothing” spot, we see a white Lexus IS sport sedan speeding around the curves of a racetrack under a cloudy sky, snow capped mountains in the background (http://arsenalfx.gosimian.com/v2/sp/r/N1/1/e6sT88zBQVMI9G7N0uDIHQ/ZGFuQGFzYnVyeXByLmNvbQ).

This spot required ArsenalFX to clean up a good deal of ground seen on the race track, as the road whips past the speeding car. This work spanned crane shots, curving roads, and camera zooms. Conventional 2D tracking techniques would not have been able to provide this outcome without extensive hand tracking and an odd-looking perspective.

1 IS Say Nothing

In order to accomplish this road cleanup, ArsenalFX used 3D tracking software (Boujou) to create a 3D camera that would match the live action camera which was used to shoot the original footage. These sequences were then brought into a 3D program (Maya) where the ground was modeled as geometry. Simply using a flat plane was not enough — ArsenalFX needed to match the curvature of the ground. This was all exported as an FBX and imported into Flame.

Once inside Flame, the ArsenalFX team painted numerous clean still frames of the race track. These were then projected onto the ground geometry and tracked in, via the 3D camera. Ultimately, a seamless and camera corrected fix resulted in a faster process, and in superior quality of the finished picture.

They also used Nuke in conjunction with Flame, said ArsenalFX’s Casey Conroy, “We harnessed Nuke’s powerful composting capabilities to clean up and enhance the Lexus IS. We also used it to track and composite background enhancement per client notes. It was an excellent complement to the Flames. Nuke expedited the turnaround and delivery of the spot.”