Target: “The Everyday Collection”

Target” “The Everyday Collection: Bake Sale”

Target” “The Everyday Collection: Laundry”

Target: “The Everyday Collection: Under Pressure”

Target: “The Everyday Collection: Ravenous”

Target: “The Everyday Collection: Cowgirl”

ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
CLIENT: Target

Target’s Everyday Collection campaign offered the opportunity to design a classy new look to a mainstream brand.

The spots mash high fashion with everyday products in a visually outrageous style. For “Bake Sale,” a gorgeous model walks the runway amongst slow motion exploding cake boxes. For “Laundry,” she floats through a giant metaphorical washing machine, searching for her missing sock. In “Under Pressure, she tackles making oats with a fire hose. Sure, it’s ridiculous. But that’s the point. And “Ravenous” and “Cowgirl” demonstrate the challenges of handling newborns, or soon to be.

All of these spots were created in Flame. And for five of the eight that debuted during this year’s Golden Globes, I served as Lead Flame Artist at Logan LA. As you can probably imagine, there was tons of beauty and clean-up work, to make everyone and everything look absolutely perfect. Also, there were a few tricky compositing and compositional challenges, particularly with “Bake Sale’s” exploding powder, and “Laundry’s” swirling fabric and bubbles. These were achieved through practical elements, assembled during many lengthy interactive client sessions.

In addition, Flame Artist Brandon Sanders contributed product blast shots to “Under Pressure.”

Xbox Kinect: “What If”

ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
CLIENT: Microsoft
AGENCY: Twofifteen McCann

At the outset, Xbox Kinect’s “What If” spots seemed fairly straightforward work. Most of the comps were being assembled in Nuke. Besides finishing, the only budgeted Flame work was crafting a “look” on top of those comps for a virtual room. But once the clients’ signed off on the “look,” this necessitated modifying the pipeline, where numerous compositing tasks would be shifted to Flame.

The spots, five in all with more than 50 additional versions for international markets, feature a host who gestures his way through a myriad of environments via the virtual room – living room, disco, business park, jungle, underwater, etc. The intention here is a metaphorical representation of the Kinect’s functionality.

The challenges were twofold. First, designing the “look” of the virtual room. Are the room’s surfaces projections or LCD’s? Are they rear or front projected? Are they reflective? Do they have texture? The solution had to work with approximately 20 different rooms. Second, the host. Shot on greenscreen, the host was lit incorrectly. His face was underexposed. His chest had a giant hotspot. His ruffled clothes caught light in all the wrong places. Extensive color correction and clean-up was required.

Sprint EVO: “Mobile Choir”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
CLIENT: Sprint
AGENCY: Leo Burnett

Sprint’s “Mobile Choir” demonstrates an unusual and clever way in which to market it’s data network. The spot features a choir of people using their smart-phones as faux instruments, thanks to various apps. Together, the group creates a harmonious musical composition, suggesting how smart phones and data can converge to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

Well … maybe that’s reading too far into it. But it’s nonetheless a creative bit of marketing.

The above featured spot represents the white version of the phone. Originally, this was shot with a black phone, and the ad’s first iteration was assembled with that in mind. Rather than re-shoot the phone for white, we decided to substitute a CG phone in it’s place. This necessitated the usual tasks – removal of the old phone, and tracking and integration of the CG one.

In addition, having worked on the black phone spots as well, there was a few extra tasks that either carried over, or needed to be revisited, such as revised screen comps (for content), shirt clean-ups (due to legal clearances), and plate color corrections (for enhancing the legibility of the white phone).

Activision’s Call of Duty Elite: “Join Up Soldier”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
CLIENT: Activision
AGENCY: 72andSunny
DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer

Zombieland director Rubin Fleischer directs Rob Riggle in this humorous launch film promoting Activision’s Call of Duty Elite downloadable content subscription service. In short, Riggle monologues gameplay gospel as badass tour-guide, taking the scenic view through C.O.D.’s roughest combat terrains.

Including myself, a number of Flame and Nuke compositors contributed to integrating Riggle into the stylized gameplay – from street shootouts to downed planes to abandoned construction sites. My responsibilities included extensive paint work and color correction to help the actor sit better in the rendered gameplay footage.

Also, on a number of close-up Riggle shots, a redesign of the gun holster occurred late in the production, triggering a removal of the current holster from the already shot plates. Numbering 30+ in total, of which I handled the majority, the holster removals were achieved through extensive patch-and-track paint work done in Flame.

DC Shoes presents Ken Block’s Gymkhana Five: Ultimate Urban Playground, San Francisco

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
DIRECTOR: Ben Conrad

Ken Block’s annual stunt ride through Americana landscapes brings this 5th edition of Gymkhana to the streets of San Francisco. A Bay Area native myself, this one rings true to my roots. Plus, it blows my mind that they were able to achieve all this crazy driving in a city that’s not all that driver friendly.

The short film is presented by Block’s own DC Shoes, and directed by Logan’s Ben Conrad. All the driving is entirely in camera, with no effects added.

However, that didn’t mean I had nothing to do. There were obvious goals that couldn’t be achieved on location, such as the checkered starting line painted on the Bay Bridge, or the absence of all people and background vehicles. Surprising, on that latter not, production managed to film S.F. as ghost town for many shots. But there were a few that needed spectator removals.

Also, I had to add or take away Go-Pro cameras mounted in the car’s interior, due to continuity issues. Sometimes cameras came loose, or they were placed in different locations to achieve the given shot. But most importantly, the cameras always needed to be present to show that what was occurring was real.

Lastly, there was quite a bit of grading and balancing of levels to get the various footage to feel consistent.

T-Mobile: “Come Out of the Dark”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Luma Pictures
CLIENT: T-Mobile
AGENCY: Publicis Seattle

Although a fairly straightforward endeavor, “Come Out of the Dark” proved to be one of the more unique projects I had the opportunity to work on last year. Not because of the work itself. Moreso due to the circumstances surrounding it.

Luma Pictures, primarily a feature film FX house, was looking to make a stronger showing in the commercial market. This meant something new for them – finishing in Flame.

When I arrived to start conforming “Come Out of the Dark,” if I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought their Flame bay had been a staple in their facility for years. In reality, it was set up the day before with a rental box to boot. To be honest, the whole thing was a little frightening in retrospect. But overall, an impressive demonstration in rising to a challenge. And easily, one of the smoothest projects I worked on that year.

As far as the actual work, the spot consisted of the usual suspects – swapping practical set products with CG replacements, color correction all-around, some signage clean-up, anamorphic lens flares, and some lighting tricks here and there.

Ford Escape: “Exterior” | “4 Wheel Drive” | “Lift”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Ntropic
AGENCY: Team Detroit
DIRECTOR: Andrew Sinagra

The above featured FX reel covers the CG aspects of these spots, of which I contributed a few car comps. I had to pull this one from an old Ntropic “making-of,” since I don’t have the original spots. But for the most part, this contains the nuts and bolts of all three.

And although not featured in breakdown fashion, there was a tremendous amount of practical car beauty and road/environment clean-up. Lens flares and unwanted reflections required removal. Tires, rims, headlights, grills, and badges needed further emphasis in detail and brightness. Windows had to be tinted, and body contours needed to be exaggerated.

The various highways received their own fresh coat of asphalt, removing cracks and potholes, as well as a new coat of paint for the dividing lines. Bridges had water stains removed and concrete wall guards had scrapes and scuffs cleaned off.

Surprisingly, out of all the environments, the garage required the most work, transforming the interior space into the cleanest, most organized space on the planet to store a Ford.

Some stylized endcard backgrounds featured cityscape matte paintings and sandy oceanside views. I always thought some of the focal choices used to emphasize the car came off a bit weird, almost like miniature photography. But that’s what was directed.

American Idol: “2012 Ford Music Challenge”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Ntropic
AGENCY: Team Detroit
DIRECTOR: P.R. Brown & Ethan Lader

12 weeks.  12 music videos.  Each custom-themed.  Shoot on Sunday.  Edit on Monday-Tuesday. Compositing and post on Tuesday-Wednesday.  Finish and deliver on Wednesday night.

That’s the production schedule for “American Idol” and Ford’s fourth annual “Music Video Challenge.” To say it’s a short turnaround is a bit of an understatement.

I worked on 8 of the 12 weeks, with Lead Flame Artist MB Emigh, as well as additional Flame Aritsts Chris Moore, Chris DeCristo, and Rob Hubbard.  Each week was different, depending on the theme: fairy tale, zodiac, ghosts, school, magic, giants, etc.

One week would necessitate heavy greenscreen compositing, making the Idols look like giants; the next week creating stylized treatments, transforming the Idols into astrological signs or magical fantasy figures. In short, a lot of hard work with no time, lots of creativity, and a reliance on pretty much every trick in the book.