Microsoft Studios | Epic Games: “Gears of War 3: Walls of Brotherhood”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Digital Domain
CLIENT: Microsoft Studios | Epic Games
PRODUCTION CO: Mothership
DIRECTOR: Aladino Debert

“Walls of Brotherhood” consists of six spots, each depicting a different stage of destruction of a large triangular walled object. As explosions occur, an etched mural depicting the Gears of War story is revealed behind the debris. The above featured clip is a compilation of highlights from all six spots.

The primary task was to augment or completely replace the murals being revealed. Per client critique, plate photography explosions were great, but the murals beneath them didn’t read as effectively as intended.

This posed a few unique challenges. To replace the murals behind the blank walls, a number of keying and color correction techniques were implemented to create a convincing composite. For the murals exploding to reveal the statues, additional warping, hand-tracks, and g-masks were utilized to shatter the newly replaced murals.

Additionally, parallax was added to static shots, and unwanted exploding debris was removed.

Myself and Jeff Heusser contributed to 5 of these spots. Lisa Tomei worked on the exploding logo at the end of the featured compilation, which chronologically was the campaign’s first spot.

Ubisoft: “Brothers in Arms: Furious 4”


E3 VIDEO GAME TRAILER
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Digital Domain
CLIENT: Ubisoft
PRODUCTION CO: Mothership
DIRECTOR: Aladino Debert

During my latter days at Digital Domain, I worked on a number of game cinematics, E3 trailers, and promotional spots.

The studio just inherited Robert Zemeckis’ mo-cap stage in Playa Vista, which was perfect for creating game-related content. And their internal production company Mothership boasted a roster of directors that were looking to branch out from commercial work. Cinematics and long-form trailers proved am appealing medium for broader storytelling.

This brings us to one of their earlier efforts, “Brothers in Arms: Furious 4,” directed by longtime VFX supervisor and Mothership member Aladino Debert. This ultraviolent, WWII fantasy assumed a Tarantino-flavored take on killing Nazis.

At the time, it was created as an announcement trailer for E3. But apparently, after the gaming conference, it was deemed a little too close to Tarantino’s wartime fantasy “Inglorious Bastards,” and was consequently changed quite a bit from what you see here.

History aside, the trailer itself was tons of fun to work on, albeit sometimes pretty eye-opening in its irreverent take on wartime vengeance. All of the CG was comp’d in Nuke by a talented roster of artistd. I had the opportunity to tackle a couple of shots in Flame, although most of my contributions were touch-ups and flourishes that occurred on top of Nuke comps.

I also managed the conform, handled all animated titling, treated the overall style and grade, and crafted additional explosive and flash effects in 2D.

Sony Interactive Entertainment | Guerrilla Games: “Killzone 3”


VIDEO GAME CINEMATIC (STEREOSCOPIC)
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Digital Domain
CLIENT: Sony Interactive Entertainment | Guerrilla Games
PRODUCTION CO: Mothership
DIRECTOR: Vernon Wilbert

This cinematic was one of my earliest forays into video game production. I was mainly a Flame conform artist for this portion of the wartime sci-fi epic “Killzone 3.” But considering its complexity in storytelling and pacing, I also served a bit on the editorial side. Plus, the most interesting challenge for me was that the entire cinematic was designed and rendered for stereoscopic viewing. That’s 3D to you and me.

At the time, assembling a 3D conform and aiding in the design of depth was a completely new territory in my experience. The industry was still undergoing a 3D renaissance, with new digital techniques and a bit of a wild west attitude. So a lot of what I did involved a try-anything approach, with full reign to experiment and innovate. Without question, that was fun.

Although commonplace today, back then, I had a fair-sized learning curve with color grading, stylistic treatments, and 2D effects work. And the stereoscopic editorial timeline not only doubled the amount of work, but also required an intuitive understanding of depth and convergence for each individual shot.

Microsoft | Crytek: “Codename: Kingdoms”


E3 VIDEO GAME TRAILER
ROLE: On-Set 2D Supervisor / Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Digital Domain
CLIENT: Microsoft | Crytek
DIRECTOR: Robert Hales

Microsoft/Crytek commissioned this teaser trailer for E3 2010 to promote a yet-to-be-created video game, provisionally entitled “Codename: Kingdoms.”

Due to a compressed schedule, simulating CG gameplay was ruled out. Instead, the decision was made to shoot actors on greenscreen, then use post-production to create a video game look.

Composited entirely in Flame, with minimal CG, this teaser capitalizes on the use of matte paintings and stock elements, as a well as a number of image processing techniques.

In addition to aiding with the on-set shoot, I tackled all the wide shots of the warrior on the battlefield, a couple where he’s flanked by his fellow soldiers, and helped develop the overall visual style of the piece.