Super vfx for the Super Bowl – part 2

In part two of our Super Bowl spot coverage, we put the VFX spotlight on some of the other outstanding commercials that aired during the game.

Kia Optima ‘One Epic Ride’ – Animal Logic

We covered Animal Logic’s visual effects for this epic Kia spot in episode #101 of fxguidetv, but the commercial is definitely worth another look.

Coca-Cola ‘Siege’ – Framestore

Nexus directors FX & Mat devised ‘Siege’ for agency Wieden + Kennedy, in which an army of fearsome fire warriors descend upon a peaceful community of ice-dwelling creatures, before Coca-Cola saves the day. Framestore took the concept art and worked with Nexus to create an expansive environment with CG furry creatures, crowds, firery dragons, smoke and fireworks. Watch for a more in-depth interview on this spot with the Framestore team, here at fxguide.

Motorola Xoom ‘Empower the People’ – Absolute Post

Directed by Randy Krallman of Smuggler, this spot depicts an almost 1984 world, reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s famous Apple Super Bowl commercial, with a hero character trying to break the trend via his Motorola Xoom. Absolute Post created the visual effects. “Originally, it was going to have a lot more epic shots of locations and Buenos Aires where they were filming,” says Absolute executive producer Sally Heath. “And now it’s become a lot more human, which is quite an interesting reaction to the plastic-ness of other products.”

Relying on six compositors over 11 days, Absolute’s work included set extensions, Xoom graphics and general clean-up, often in handheld shots. “The biggest shot was the set extension at the train station,” said producer John Skeffington. “We built up the roof and the second layer and added all those people. There were only about 50 extras in the original photography. Throughout the spot we cloned people, cleaned things up, removed graffiti from the walls, signage and those sorts of things.”

“Also,” continues Skeffington, “when the train comes into the station, we colour corrected that so it was no longer yellow to stay with the monochromatic theme. Originally, there was something called the 5 per-centers, which were people who used the Motorola Xoom, and they ended up turning those into white hooded drone people. We also did the Xoom comps and the animation on the screen. And the final Xoom at the end is all CG.”

NFL Draft ‘Path to Primetime’ – QuietMan

Watch 'Path to Primetime'

QuietMan produced a fully CG :10 spot for the NFL Draft, featuring an empty hall and podium. It’s the day after the Super Bowl and everybody’s undefeated,” says QuietMan Founder and Creative Director Johnnie Semerad. “Everybody’s outlook is good. We had to really emphasise the optimism and importance of the next day and we had ten seconds to do it.”

Artists worked in After Effects and Cinema 4D to create the environment of Radio City Music Hall. “While the guys were building the Music Hall, we had designers building the beginning and end frames and doing an animatic for the piece,” says Semerad. “For the ten seconds, we tried music and a voice-over, but kept coming back to a simpler premise because you don’t have time to see two things, you only have time to say one.”

Bud Light ‘3D Test’ – axyz

Airing just before the Super Bowl game coverage, Bud Light’s ‘3D Test’, for agency Cannonball, St Louis, shows a 3D projection of Bud Light bottle coming out of a television set and dazzling unweary glass-wearing test participants, with effects by axyz. “We helped design the look of how the projection was going to work coming out of the screens,” says axyz 2D artist James Andrews. “We used a lot of plugins and effects and matte tricks to get some glowing edges and neat interaction between the actors and the objects.”

“They were shot elements that we matted,” continues Andrews. “Some of them were 2D elements but we put some on 3D objects in order to make the cut edges as they come out through the monitor. We used Houdini to model the bottle, and then it was taken into Inferno to map all the bottles into the scenes. We also used Inferno to creates the mattes of the cut edges, and used that edge line to intensify the glow.”

axyz also worked on other Bud Light commercials for the Super Bowl, including a spot called ‘Hack Job’.

Honda CR-V ‘Forecast’ – Brand New School

Brand New School was behind the design and production of ‘Forecast’, a RPA Creatively spot for Honda CR-V. The ad is intended to show the vehicle handling all sorts of weather conditions, and was shot in an around in and around California’s Santa Ynez Airport. While real rain and snow was shot for some of the scenes, others required digital backgrounds and particle effects to show the different weather environments.

A big year for The Mill

Finally, Super Bowl XLV was definitely a big event for The Mill, which worked on over 20 commercials this year for the broadcast. Check out our article on the studio’s work for’s ‘Reviews Are In’ spot. We’ve showcased a few of The Mill’s other standouts below, but they also have a special site with each of their contributions here.

NFL ‘American Family’ – The Mill

In this NFL spot, directed by Ryan Mckenna and Ben Smith for Grey NY, The Mill substituted items of clothing on characters from beloved sit-coms like Happy Days and Seinfeld with Super Bowl themed attire. New elements were filmed with a mix/overlay system on set, with that footage altered to match the resolution of the existing material. The final shots composites involved meticulous work to match character and cloth movement.

Watch the side-by-side comparison here:

VW ‘Black Beetle’ – The Mill London

Deutsch L.A.’s VW ‘Black Beetle’ spot, directed by Dante Airola, featured visual effects and animation by The Mill London. Here, a striped beetle makes it through the dangers of the forest in a somewhat car-chase style. Lead 3D artists Tom Bussell and Juan Brockhaus created an animatic from Ariola’s storyboards and researched iconic car chases, documentaries and observed real-life footage of insects. Reference also came from The Natural History Museum’s insect collection

Bud Light ‘Dog Sitter’ – The Mill NY

‘Dog Sitter’ was directed by Baker Smith for DDB Chicago. The Mill designed rigs that would help the dogs walk or stand upright on their back legs. Stills were taken of the dogs’ upper torsos for clean plates, and real dog arms replace with animated versions to hold trays or beer or to show the dog working at a tap or flipping burgers.