Marc Rienzo recently wrote, directed and vfx supervised spots for the New York Mets.
Set in the future, all the characters were motion captured, except for the umpire who was key framed animated. While much of the motion capture was heavily tweaked for creative reasons, it served as great reference for all the shots. Everything was rendered with V-Ray for Maya.
fxg: There is strong texturing work here. Can you talk about that?
Eric Sanford, CG Supervisor: For the hero characters, the final look was developed in textures and compositing. The majority of texture painting was done in Mari with some tweaking in Photoshop. The typical map channels were created, DIFF, SPEC, BUMP,DISP and a ton of UTIL channels. For the soot on pitcher, RGB mattes were painted and rendered as a separate pass to be dialed in comp. Some of the HUDS were done all in texture, while some along the the water drops on the characters were done in comp with ST maps.
fxg: What were the compositing challenges you faced?
Gianni Aliotti, Lead Compositor: We dealt with many compositing challenges. One of the most notable was the task of integrating vast amounts high density details such as the water drops on the players, layer upon layer of practical fx (smoke, steam, camera flashes, etc), and adding small details that could cover the stadium and produce an enormous amount of visual complexity. One area where Nuke was extremely useful, was in creating confetti particle simulations. We used the default snow particle system and replaced the snow sprite with looping paper animations. We then populated the stadium with our confetti and pushed it through all kinds of wind vortices, gravity, etc which lent a real sense of reality to the world. We also used Nuke’s rain particles to generate stereo rain in about 99% of the spot. This gave us a lot more flexibility than relying on rendered TD passes and gave us the control to iterate as needed. We also used Red Camera raindrop footage and ST mapped that onto our players to give them the sense that they were getting wet from our Nuke rain. All in all, we felt it was very effective.
The making of:
fxg: Was there any particular reference you referred to?
Marc Rienzo Writer, Director, and VFX Supervisor: For reference we looked at all sorts of things, real game footage, Boise State, and David Finchers “Game Breakers” which is one of my all time favorites. But I suppose the biggest inspirations for these would be Classic Star Wars, and Todd Mcfarlane art.
The spots were created by the VFX group at Digital Domain Media Group in FL. A lot of talented artists worked on the spots including:
Producer: Lisa Zusmer DelPrete
CG Supervisor: Eric Sanford
Lead Compositor: Gianni Aliotti
Lead Compositor: Jason Selfe
Animation Supervisor: Tim Keon