Beats: “Firestarter”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: Hustle L.A.
DIRECTOR: Adam Hashemi

Barring a few crazy in-suite incidents, involving some over-the-top conflicts amongst creatives, this Beats spot was incredibly fun to work on. Scored to the Prodigy’s breakbeat techno anthem “Firestarter,” the premise imagines a football (soccer, for the U.S.) game set in the tunnels of the London Underground.

A few shots were actually taken on location. But for the most part, the action occurs on a 15-20 foot section of tunnel, constructed against greenscreen. Fairly straightforward, or so it would seem. Unfortunately, the majority of the footage was captured on grainy black and white film, to lend a gritty authenticity to the game play, which it does. But it also rendered the greenscreen useless. And mucked up the LED tracking markers needed to get a decent camera track.

So aside from the look dev, which actually proved to be quite creative, the biggest challenges centered on roto and tracking. The enjoyable bits came from assembling the tunnel with geo and projectors, all built entirely in Flame. Alignments were tricky, as was getting the lighting to integrate. But thanks to the limitations imposed by the black and white film, comps actually tended to move quickly, with less rather more integration issues to worry about. That proved to be a relief, because there were quite a few shots.

The look was intentionally stylized, so there was a bit of experimental give and take in its creation. Some challenges arose, when players or the ball needed to be repositioned among all the dynamic camera moves and player activity. The interspersed color shots of players also required tunnel extensions, lighting effects and transitions, and in the case of the endcards, CG crowds and stadium additions.

I worked on look dev, and handled roughly a third of the tunnel shots, as well as one of the crowd/stadium shots.