Three of the best: a TVC round-up

At fxguide we like to showcase effects work from around the world. Here’s a collection of spots and idents for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Infiniti’s Q90 and CCTV Documentary Channel, plus behind the scenes clips and images from MPC, Method Studios and KORB.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – ‘Defy’ – MPC

What happens: To promote the release of Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag game, MPC combined live action photography with digital effects to depict the aftermath of a fierce battle, in a shot that goes from underneath an attacked ship all the way to the game’s protagonist atop a mast.

Concept: “Our aim was to create a spectacular, very action heavy game trailer,” says MPC visual effects supervisor Fabian Frank, who shared duties on the spot with Franck Lambertz. MPC helped previs the camera move and then fleshed out assets and environments based on Ubisoft concept art.

Filming live action: Over three days, production filmed various elements, including the underwater floating men in a tank with a moco rig. Action scenes with stunt performers on the ship were shot on partial and greeenscreen sets. Some of the blood elements were actually captured later at MPC and then comp’d into the scenes.

Watch a making of featurette about MPC’s VFX for the spot.

2D and 3D: For water and splashing effects, MPC’s London team relied on Houdini for the first time – creating assets and then using Alembic to exchange the data into Maya and Mental Ray for rendering. Ships were built and rendered in Maya, including the ship hull seen underwater. Shattering glass, fog, smoke, light effects and fire were composited into the final shots. The ocean and island background was achieved as a large almost 360 degree matte painting projected onto proxy geo.


Agency: Sid Lee Paris
Production Company: Stink
Director: Adam Berg
Visual effects: MPC

Infinity – ‘Factory of Life’ – Method Studios

What happens: In a hi-tech factory, rows of identical luxury car drivers line up to be issued a vehicle until one breaks from to escape an Infinity Q50. Method Studios helped create a vast factory environment, the drivers and its busy robots.

How to make a factory: “The main design challenge was trying to create a sterile mechanical environment that still felt industrial,” says Method Studios visual effects supervisor Benjamin Walsh. “Taking a lead from the production design we found a balance of textures that complimented the set. Having the set lit with a lower light aesthetic created the challenge of trying to incorporate the request of a skylight roof from the client.”

“An enormous sense of scale was important to the director and agency so after looking at the boards we knew we would have to create digi doubles to fill out the factory,” adds Walsh. “It was definitely an advantage knowing the characters were in a production line scenario with no movement. This eliminated the need for animation cycles or massive.”

See Method’s making of for the spot.

Practical rigs for robots: During the spot, factory robots help to dress the lines of drivers. Knowing they would be augmenting the final shots, Method requested that practical rigs be filmed on set. “We asked for at the very least to get the ends (pincers, lint brushes, makeup tools etc) of the robotic arms built with grey rods puppeteering them,” states Walsh. “We were fortunate enough to get a good portion of the arms built so for the wide shots we extended with the CG arm shoulders joints to the robot bodies that would either be attached to CGrails or grounded butler bots.”


Agency: TBWA/Chiat Day
Production Company: MJZ
Director: Dante Ariola
Visual effects: Method Studios (Los Angeles)

CCTV Documentary Channel – idents – JL DESIGN & KORB

What happens: For a set of four stunning CCTV Documentary Channel idents, JL Design and Korb crafted different ‘motion sculptures’ representing slices of time, and personal and emotional moments.

The concept: “From the very beginning we set a task to ourselves to focus on textures and substances of sculptures, to reveal its shapes, reflections, colors in different angles,” Korb founder Rimantas Lukavicius told fxguide. “To represent different ideas and feelings of idents we decided to use realistic, associative textures ­steel, wood, candy/rattle and glass/water. One of the biggest challenges achieving cinematic, natural and convincing look of idents was to introduce camera movements, close­ups and upper­shots.”

On the shoot for the idents.
On the shoot for the idents.

The trail effect: Actor performances were filmed in Taipei and captured with six Sony Playstation cameras using iPi Soft’s mocap software to track the motion. The resulting motion data was then transferred to Maya for animation refinement. “Once all animation has been cleaned up and our digital doubles were matching the shot originals,” explains Lukavicius, “we used bunch of custom scripts to extract profile curves from the meshes and combined them to one or another form of sculpture which was lit and rendered in 3ds Max.”


Creative Director: JL
VFX / Design Company: KORB
Concept Development: JL DESIGN & KORB