GoPro on a Spidercam rig? No problem. That’s just one of the unique shooting techniques Swedish studio STOPP/FAMILY employed for a recent interactive project that helped launch Adidas’ 2014 FIFA World Cup match ball. The 360 degree experience has users witness what it might be like to play with famous footballers – from the perspective of the new ‘Brazuca’ match ball. STOPP/FAMILY made the panoramas in the experience a reality, using some innovative capture, stitching and CG solutions. We break down the process – step-by-step – with visual effects supervisor Arvid Björn.

Watch the interactive experience here: http://www.adidas.com/apps/brazuca

Step 1: Capturing panoramas

One of the rigs - with the PanoPro - is buried for a goal shot.

One of the rigs – the Red Scarlet with a PanoPro – is buried to capture a shot.

The main footage of the piece was filmed with RED EPICs which were attached to a Spidercam rig – that provided for free-flowing movement over an entire football pitch. The panoramic footage was captured with three other rigs, carefully placed and positioned depending on the shoot so that they would not be visible in the final plates. The rigs were:

  • A Freedom360 mount with six GoPros
  • A PanoPro mirror lens strapped to a Red Scarlet
  • A 180 degree lens on a Canon 550D

One particularly challenging panoramic execution was required for the final goal sequence, where Argentine player Lionel Messi pushes forward and shoots a goal – the user sees what the ball sees as it lifts off the ground. Making that shot possible involved a number of innovations.

First, STOPP/FAMILY grafted a GoPro consumer-grade 360 degree mount onto the Spidercam. “It was the first time the Spidercam team had done such a thing, so it was a really interesting experiment,” says Björn.

“In order to control the system,” he adds, “we mounted a Canon 5D on the normal camera plate of the rig for the remote control guys to have some eyes in the sky, and then the actual GoPro rig at the bottom of a long stick to get it further away from the spider rig itself.”


The Spidercam is equipped with a GoPro and 360 mount.

The Spidercam is equipped with a GoPro and 360 mount.

One rig included a GoPro attached to an RC car.

One rig included a GoPro attached to an RC car.


Second, the team was able to pull a camera track from the footage that could be used for all the obtained angles, and thus allow them to render a 360 degree CG pano of the CG stadium – see below – which also included crowds, that then matched the stitch of the GoPro footage.

Thirdly, the footage could not all be shot with the actual football talent, due to the stars’ availability. That meant that a body double of Messi was filmed with a face replacement of the real footballer added later.

Step 2: Stitching the panos together

NUKE screenshot showing stitching workflow.

NUKE screenshot showing stitching workflow.

One of the biggest challenges for STOPP/FAMILY became the parallax shift between the separate cameras, and how that would impact on stitching a seamless panorama. “When you shoot a still panorama,” explains Björn, “you can use a rotating nodal head to ensure the lens center is at the same exact location for each angle, but with a moving image, this becomes physically impossible as six cameras cannot occupy the same point in space. So even though the GoPro 3’s and the 360 mount is very small, the closest safe distance is about 70cm, and we’re working at about 10cm at the closest point.”

So how did STOPP/FAMILY solve this? The solution was three-fold:

1. Rotoscoping all players on screen
2. Setting up a camera projection in NUKE
3. Significant manual matching and warping of the plates to a single seamless 3K 360×360° panorama

The NUKE projections involved projecting warped images onto a sphere from the inside, then wrapping up the image with the spherical projection camera. “Using that system,” describes Björn, “we patched up most of the glitches and warped it together into a working panoramic image, combining all the roto, CG background and plates into a single piece.”

Initial stitch and final version.

Initial stitch and final version.

“It’s very hard to fully understand the stretching that happens a spherical image when it’s unwrapped into 2D space,” adds Björn, “so when adding things like a shadow, it helps a lot to have a matching camera from which you can render 3D geometry correctly. The shadow of the ball is an example of that. The shadow was created with a simple sphere casting a shadow from a matching sun light, and rendered into a spherical panorama and then used as a shadow matte in the composite.”

Step 3: Making a crowd-filled stadium

Crowd screenshot in Clarisse iFX.

Crowd screenshot in Clarisse iFX.

Björn notes that one factor that actually assisted the stitching work was that the backgrounds would be replaced entirely – they were extended with a panoramic CG render of the Maracanã – the official World Cup stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

For the stadium’s crowd, STOPP/FAMILY utilized a Softimage and Clarisse iFX workflow. Softimage was used to generate 20 high-resolution characters with five to seven sets of clothing, including team shirts. The team then turned to Clarisse iFX in order to handle the large crowd datasets required to fill out a 90,000 seat arena.

“Having played around with Clarisse for a few months prior,” says Björn, “I knew this was just the kind of thing Clarisse could handle with ease – rendering wise, so I started experimenting with it to see if it could not only render the crowd, but also generate it entirely, and it turned out to be quite powerful for this task.”

STOPP/FAMILY applied the same Softimage rig to each character, then created 5000 frames of animation by mixing and offsetting various types of moves. These included “sitting,” “standing,” “cheering,” “flag” and so on. “We also had another slowed down copy of each category for the slow motion shots,” notes Björn. “Each category was then exported to its own Alembic file and loaded into Clarisse.”


Direction map.

Direction map.

Crowd detail.

Crowd detail.


Materials for the crowd characters were applied using shading layers – this is the method Clarisse uses to apply materials via text-based rules. “This made it easy to switch the crowd from Spain fans to Argentina fans for example,” says Björn. “The other advantage is that as new Alembics are imported, all the materials are automatically applied since they are based on wildcard strings referring to the object and cluster names. Likewise, the path manager’s search-replace function meant we could switch all character alembics into their slow-motion counterpart without the need of keeping both in the scene.”

A point cloud was then created from a set of polygons representing each seat to make up the final crowd. “The rotation of each character is controlled by a circular gradient texture which acts as a rotational offset for each position so that every character would look in toward the center of redtube the pitch,” explains Björn. “Another texture controls the “decimate value,” basically a map that dictates how dense the crowd is all over the stadium. That way I could spawn the entire audience with these simple controls.”

Stadium: before and after.

Stadium: before and after.

The final scene was made up of approximately 162 million polygons – with final render speeds were around 10 minutes per frame in HD.

Credits

The team works out the focal distance for the PanoPro rig.

The team works out the focal distance for the PanoPro rig.

Messi's face replacement.

Messi’s face replacement.

A before and after shot of the stadium.

A before and after shot of the stadium.

Client: adidas Football
Campaign: I Am Brazuca
Creative Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles
Chief Creative Officer: John Norman
Executive Creative Director: Fabio Costa
Associate Creative Director: Chris Hutchinson
Associate Creative Director: Driscoll Reid
Executive Agency Producer: Guia Iacomin
Senior Agency Producer: Chris Spencer
Director Of Digital Production: Peter Bassett
Managing Director: Laurent Janneau
Account Director: Caroline Britt
Management Supervisor: Sarah Lamberson
Management Supervisor: Chris Crockett

STOPP/FAMILY

Director: Zachary Richter / STOPP/LA
Director: Bram Coppens / Caviar
DoP: Patrick Otten
Executive producer: Fredrik Montan Frizell
Executive line producer: Anna Adamsson
Line producer: Cliff Schumacher
On set-supervisor: Arvid Björn
On set-supervisor: Johan Boije
On set-supervisor: Julius Denizhan
Technical director: Ola Björling

Post production: STOPP/POST PRODUCTION

Creative Director: Zachary Richter
Executive producer: Fredrik Montan Frizell
Post producer: Linda Östlund
Vfx coordinator: Fritte Colliander
Colorist: Annika Pehrson
Sound design: Eric Thorsell
Final Mix: Ian Stiernswärd Persson
Editor: Ben Jordan / Work Editorial

Vfx supervisor: Arvid Björn

CG lead: Arvid Björn
CG artist: Robin Erneström
CG artist: Per Bergstén
Compositor: Karl Rydhe
Compositor: Victor Sanchez
Compositor: David Strindberg
Compositor: Johan Boije
Compositor: Valdemar Gezelius
Compositor: Calle Herdenberg
Compositor: Samuel Schulthess
Compositor: James Young Lee

Interactive production: STOPP/INTERACTIVE

Creative Director: Zachary Richter
Executive producer: Fredrik Montan Frizell
Associated digital producer: Callan Koenig
Lead developer: Jin Kim
Front-/Back end developer: Mattias Hedman
Senior Art Director: Abraham Cortes
Art Director: Dersu Rhodes
Binaural recording: Johan Belin/ Dinahmoe



Thanks so much for reading our article.

We've been a free service since 1999 and now rely on the generous contributions of readers like you. If you'd like to help support our work, please join the hundreds of others and become an fxinsider member.