Different ads – different techniques

In the past couple of weeks, a couple of commercials using some innovative visual effects techniques have caught fxguide’s eye. Here’s a look at some neat spots from studios around the world – Digital Domain, Important Looking Pirates, Poetica, Framestore, Alt.vfx and Realise Studio. And we have an EXCLUSIVE making of video for DD’s Dead Space 3 spot.

Digital Domain delivers Dead Space 3 spot

In ‘Take Down the Terror’, Mothership and Digital Domain combined live action, gameplay and CG animation to promote the release of EA’s Dead Space 3. The spot was realized by shooting both live action and mocap at DD’s in-house virtual production studio, with CG elements such as the character’s suit and extra effects including snow, fog and additional particle sims to fill out the icy world of Tau Volantis.

Watch this exclusive breakdown for the Dead Space 3 spot from Digital Domain.

VFX credits

VFX Supervisor: Aladino Debert
VFX Producer: John Kokum
VFX Coordinator: Rebecca Bihr
Virtual Production Supervisor: Gary Roberts
CG Supervisor: Ron Herbst
Character Animator: Greg Breitzman
Character Animator/Rigger: Rick Fronek
Generalist: Juan Gomez
, Casey Benn
, Neil Taneja
Matte Painter: Shannan Burkely
FX Artist: Eric Ebling
, Karl Rogovin
Compositor: Scott Hale
, Arthur Agote
, Barry Berman
Editor: Colin Woods

ILP makes pixels and more

Watch the spot.

Important Looking Pirates, who most recently created the incredibly realistic sharks in Kon-Tiki (covered here at fxguide), delivered this ‘Pixels’ spot for Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget. In it, some unassuming pixels quickly turn into things like sharks, robots, aliens and even football players.

See ILP’s animatic.

ILP provided an early animatic to the client, since the final voxelization look would not appear finalized until the final effects had been completed – which were created in Houdini, then imported in Maya and rendered in V-Ray. A stereo version of the spot will also be shown in cinemas in April.

VFX credits
VFX Supervisor: Yafei Wu
VFX Producer: Måns Björklund
Lead 3D Artist: Daniel Rådén
3D Artists: Martin Eneroth, Patrik Wedinger, Bobo Skipper,Jonas Andersson, Victor Carlander, Björn Malmgren, Martin Karlsson, Elin Lavén, Max Erlandsson, Jason Martin, Damien Delanuey, Saleh Najib
2D Artists: David Wahlberg, Jens Tenland, Niklas Nyqvist

Poetica’s spec journey with Trek

In this surreal spec spot for Trek Bicycles, Poetica employed several techniques to tell the story of a rider’s connection with the Trek brand. Bicycle parts, stylize landscapes, flowers and cranes make up the imagery.

Animation was completed in Softimage with rendering in Arnold. Also relied upon were Exocortex, Slipstream and Softimage’s ICE for the organic flowing effects.

VFX credits
Poetica CD: Steve Tozzi
CG Director and Lead Animation: John Clausing
MD: Rachelle Madden
Animator(s): Young Park, Kirt Critoph
Compositor: Rosalie Garlow
Senior Flame Artist: Aaron Vasquez
ICE Generation/Animator: Matt Semel
Head of Production: Stefanie Bassett

Framestore resurrects Audrey

This Galaxy commercial, ‘Choose Silk Chauffeur’, featuring Audrey Hepburn turned heads recently when it was revealed that Framestore had crafted the now-deceased actress’ face entirely in CG. During filming, a stand-in lookalike performed the scenes with Framestore taking witness cam footage and extensive reference data. They also relied on the studio’s in-house Capture Lab to take scans and do a FACS (facial action coding system) session for various poses, before the 3D built the facial rig from this reference and countless images and clips of Hepburn. Arnold was used for rendering skin, hair and eyes, including a new system the studio adopted for eyebrows and face ‘peach fuzz’.

Framestore's making of can be watched here (UK and Ireland readers only).
Framestore’s making of can be watched here (UK and Ireland readers only).

VFX credits
Framestore Producer: Helen Hughes
Assistant Producer: James Alexander
Colourist: Steffan Perry
VFX Supervisor: William Bartlett and Simon French
CG Supervisor: Simon French
Compositing Supervisor: William Bartlett
Animation Supervisor: Nigel Rafter
Animation: Nigel Rafter, Steve Townrow, India Barnardo, Brad Silby
Technical Director: Grant Walker, Rob Harrington, Jay Khan
2D: Russell Dodgson, Jonni Isaacs
Roto: Rachel Gregson
Capture Lab: Ben Guthrie, Matt Rank, Karsten Hecker
Rigging: Stephen Cullingford, Nico Scapel

Alt.vfx is all sparks

For ‘House of Sparkling’, a YellowGlen TVC touting the brand’s sparkling wine with a spark-emitting dancer, Alt.vfx relied on 3ds Max and Particle Flow to generate the necessary effects. Artists matchmoved a virtual character to the on-screen tap dancer before the ceiling finale that echoes the effervescent nature of the product.

3ds Max screenshot of the sparks tool.

Different ‘events’ were created to simulate the pops and cracks from the flint hits made from the tap dancing reference which were randomly triggered by speed, collision and direction factors. Alt.vfx ensured that particles would start white-hot and cool off through the black body radiation scale. This dynamic range would allow for correct lensing and flaring based on thresholds referenced from the live action plates. Rendering was done via Mental Ray and compositing was Autodesk Flame.

VFX credits
VFX Supervisor: Colin Renshaw
Design & Animation Supervisor: Brendan Savage
Design & Flame: Karen Fabling
R&D and FX: Matthew Hermans
Grade: Marcus Timpson

Realise Studio draws the line

Usually called upon to create stunning digital effects, Realise Studio’s Jordi Bares found himself offering an in-camera solution to the production company for this Reebok Classics 30th Anniversary spot.

The commercial called for the cityscape to be transformed with white athletics track lines as some kids compete to reach a nightclub. Bares suggested using camera tape to lay down the lines, rather than painting them or having to complete them all in CG. Realise then augmented just a minimal of final shots with some 2D enhancements including extra lines and effects.

The camera tape solution was tested first before being deployed.
Placing the tape on location.

VFX credits
VFX Supervision: Jordi Bares
Compositing: Andy Quinn, Allar Kaasik