Super Bowl 2017 | Legion Promo: “Swaddled”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
DIRECTOR: Paul Tolton

Ove the years, the promos and print campaigns for the FX series Legion,” which is tangentially based on the X-Men series, have been exceptionally creative and wholly unique. I particularly love the current season 3 psychedelic poster campaign.

I bring all this up, because I was privileged to work on the first round of televised promos for the series debut. At the time, no one really knew what the series could or would be. So the creative marketing was an open book, which made it exciting to be a part of. Also, and quite surprisingly, the spot that I worked on proved to be some of the most challenging work I’ve done.

Essentially, I had to rebuild the baby for the latter half of the promo, due to a fluid creative direction of how/where the baby levitates. Needless to say, the plates didn’t cover the full length of the body during the push-in, which was very much shot in camera, as originally intended. It took three different baby takes to make it work. Of course, no one will ever know. And I take satisfaction in that.

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Lineage 2: Revolution: “Conan Wants to Break Your Flat Screen”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
DIRECTOR: Bryan Buckley

The title of this spot speaks for itself. Conan O’Brien literally wants to smash through your flat screen, so he can sell you on the mobile gaming app “Lineage 2: Revolution.”

Mostly shot in camera, this short turnaround spot required a fair amount of enhancement, due to the indecision of which take of the smashed flat screen looked best. It turned out to be a combo, requiring multiple plates to be stitched together, from flying through the flatscreen, the shattering of the screen itself, and the debris aftermath, including the shatter pattern. I had to do most of it, so many shortcuts were explored.

I also added sparks, dust, and additional debris, as well as the room seen through the hole in the TV/wall. Conan had a minimal amount of beauty work .

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Toyota C-HR: “Cinderella” | “Gingerbread Man” | “Trojan Horse”

Toyota C-HR: “Cinderella”

Toyota C-HR: “Gingerbread Man”

Toyota C-HR: “Trojan Horse”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: Saatchi & Saatchi
DIRECTOR: Noam Murro

Here’s an odd trio of high-concept spots for Toyota, all loosely based on fairy tales and historical fantasy – Cinderella, the Gingerbread Man, and the Trojan Horse. Although, I think that last one is more history than fantasy, depending on your point of view.

Each is very stylish and beautifully shot, even if the metaphorical conceit sometimes gets lost in the presentation. “Cinderella” and “Gingerbread Man” were fairly straightforward, in terms of workload. Lost of clean-up, alteration and adding of signage, and of course, car beauty. Cindy also required some digital hair dye to make her more prominent.

“Trojan Horse” required a CG Trojan Horse, and some minor beauty and cleanup. The wonderfully weird animation was outsourced to Made by Radio.

Curiously, all three spots somehow got spun into 150 deliverables, none of the them being socials.

Toyota Safety Sense: “Crash Test Dummies: Overheard”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: Saatchi & Saatchi L.A.
DIRECTOR: Speck / Gordon

The Crash Test Dummies look to be out of a job, thanks to Toyota’s new safety features, titled Toyota Safety Sense, included in their latest models. This spot brings back these humorous characters as the punchline to Toyota’s ongoing efforts to make driving a safer experience.

Although shot in-camera, the dummies had to be augmented at the joints and neck to accurately depict real world crash test mannequins. Most of that was handled with CG and Nuke, with background clean ups aided by Flame. I tackled a few of those.

But my main responsibility, other than managing the conform, was look devving and comping the test facility environments. Various split screens, CG extensions, and matte paintings were used to extend the space, which was originally shot in a hanger.

Tracking and integration were particularly challenging. The foreground interior hallways were separate from the warehouse car plates, neither shot with motion control. So various retiming and hand tracking techniques had to be used to fit these square pegs into the round holes. Thankfully, some of these shots were lock offs, or had minimal camera moves.

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Intel: “The Future of Retail”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
PRODUCTION CO: Imperial Woodpecker
DIRECTOR: Stacy Wall

The Future gets personified in this somewhat humorous spot for Intel, one of a dozen that showcases how their tech aids business and personal experiences.

My big takeaway from this project wasn’t so much the final result, as it was the techniques that went into creating it. The Future was originally supposed to be depicted as a simple glowing person, radiating Intel blue. And that’s how the project was bid and shot. Somewhere along the way, the concept changed, and The Future assumed a more hi-tech appearance.

The problem started with the absence of facial and body tracking markers, which were necessary for the hi-tech animated graphics to adhere to his skin. And of course, since the project wasn’t bid or scheduled for this change, there were no assets in place to handle the task in the given schedule. So a decision was made to tackle these tracks in Flame, using UV tracking and stabilizing techniques, and rendered unwraps with graphics assembled in After Effects.

Overall, probably not the most efficient approach to the problem, given the 12 spots, and the sheer amount of facial and arm articulation in The Future’s movements. But an interesting challenge nonetheless. It took about 2-3 weeks to handle everything, of which I was tasked with leading the charge. And honestly, it was pretty painful. But at the end of it, I had a new set of tricks to apply to any and all future projects (no pun intended).

I also handled some look development on The Future. But that task went through many hands, until The Future’s appearance was agreed upon by agency and client.