Samsung Galaxy Gear: “Santa’s Secret”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mission
AGENCY: 72andSunny

A humorous take on the holidays, Santa is in full Steve Jobs mode for this press conference parody product reveal of the new Samsung smart watch / mobile device.

The bulk of the work centered on the screen comps, the primary one being the motion picture-sized one behind St. Nick and his elf helper. There was a team of six, so those were split evenly. The main challenge was generating the content itself, which was created in After Effects and Flame, depending on complexity and timing.

Flame also contributed some subtle particle systems to emulate snow falling from the top of the stage.

And I handled the CG endcard, featuring four phones, a stylus, and a watch. When these endcards feature more than one product, the number of iterations can get out of hand. This one was no different.

Samsung Galaxy: “Meet the Note 3”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mission
AGENCY: 72andSunny

Fairly straightforward yet elegant tabletop product spot for Samsung’s latest (at the time) Note 3 mobile device. This one involved the typical product beauty and rig removal for the phone.

Also, since the Note 3 was still in production at the time of our production, some of the screen content and functionality had to be built through 2D graphics and animation, and thus tracked back into the given shots. Some of that was handled in After Effects, some in Flame. I worked on the stylus functionality shots, as well as the watch.

Lastly, I built the endcard out of multiple plates to ensure proper timing and smoothness of product spin.

Samsung: “LeBron Always On”


LONG-FORM COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mission
AGENCY: 72andSunny
PRODUCTION CO: Park Pictures
DIRECTOR: Lance Accord

This is the longest Samsung spot I worked on, during my permalancer days at the Mission. It’s mostly a found footage celebration of then-product sponsor LeBron James, with some original shots peppered throughout, and the requisite endtag product shot.

Being found footage, there was a fair share of cleanup, particularly in the NBA game footage, but also in background signage and product logos. Also, there was a fair amount of screen comps throughout … phones, tablets, flat screens, etc. I was one of six that handled the workload.

Lastly, as was now my M.O., I tackled the endcard, this round being assembled from turntable footage that needed to be rebuilt in 2D to accommodate agency preference. Screen comps, clean-up, glints and glimmers, and a new background space.

Nike: “TW14” feat. Tiger Woods


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mission
AGENCY: Wieden+Kennedy
DIRECTOR: Brad Parker

Another early spot I worked on at the Mission. This Nike advert features Tiger Woods in a subversion of golf decorum, with rowdy crowds, and boxing and baseball intrusions. It’s built out of original and found footage, much from the PGA, and some additional plates of crowds, refs, a catcher, and a few other sports references.

I worked on bits and pieces of clean-up and compositing, tidying up foreground edges and replicating crowds throughout. My main contribution is to the catcher/umpire shot, which required a fair amount of work, due to the focal issues.

It’s a weird spot with a weird look. But in hindsight, I kind of like the quirkiness.

Samsung Galaxy Gear: “Evolution”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mission
AGENCY: 72andSunny
DIRECTOR: Stuart Parr

This clever concept represents one of the earliest Samsung projects I worked on. Admittedly, I’ve never really cared for the smart watch, regardless of the brand, since I’m not the watch-wearing type. But I love the pop-culture references used here, nostalgic reminders of its historical presence, even if its been entirely in our on-screen imagination.

This spot had a quick turnaround, two or three days, if I recall. Each compositor got a watch or two to clean-up, comp, etc. I had Johnny Sokko, which was awesome, so my tasks included rig cleanup and watch beauty. I also had the endtag watch, which added a screen comp to the standard product beauty.

Prada: “The Future of Flesh”


PROMO
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Logan
CLIENT: Prada
DIRECTOR: Luke Gilford

Every time I watch this Prada promotional spot, I’m never quite sure if it’s serious, mocking, or both. It’s an odd one. Visually, I see hints of “Brazil,” Hannibal Lector, some form of latex bondage, and some far out ’70s sci-fi. I think there’s a commentary on age and the lengths exerted for the preservation of youth. Perhaps, I’m overthinking it.

But I suppose that’s why I truly enjoyed contributing to this spot. It’s abstract, open to interpretation, and visually weird enough to hold my interest, both while working on it, and after the fact.

The spot was crafted for a fashion event I can’t quite recall. But Jane Fonda was going to be present. And they even roped her in to providing some VO for the imagery.

As far as my efforts, I did a ton of beauty and clean-up. But not the typical skin work that usually comes with the territory. This project was all about organic latex, as if it was another layer of skin, and in some instances, a direct extension of it, blending directly into the forehead, cheeks, and neck of the featured model. Other face masks needed finesse, with fewer, tighter seems to show an organic constricting nature.

Clothing also needed to look perfect, and some environments required a bit of polish. Incidentally, the whole spot was shot in Logan’s offices, for the trivia-minded.

Fruit of the Loom: “Curvation”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Logan
CLIENT: Fruit of the Loom
DIRECTOR: Luke Gilford

I always get a smile from others when I mention I worked on this spot for Fruit of the Loom. It’s definitely one of the more interesting challenges I’ve come across. The focus was on promoting underwear for plus-sized women. Since the subject matter can be somewhat sensitive, the presentation was intended to be natural and confident, promoting beauty in all shapes and sizes.

As mentioned, there were some unique challenges, mainly concerning the beauty work. Typically, I’m asked to remove wrinkles and rolls, often performing digital tummy tucks and slimming of double chins. In this case, the size needed to remain, without actually appearing overweight or unhealthy.

For the most part, the given models fit that description, making this an exercise in subtlety, with slight adjustments to skin texture and regions of contrast. Like I said, weight reduction was not the brief. In addition, there was the usual facial beauty, removing dark regions beneath the eyes, and the occasional mole or acne.

I also extended some environments, and tracked and integrated all the chalk-based motion graphics onto walls, steps, and pillars. The conform itself was fairly straightforward.

Nike: “KD”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Logan
CLIENT: Nike

This Nike spot for Kevin Durant’s 2013 branded athletic shoe is more of a mograph advert than anything else, relying on stylized motion, integrated graphics, and abstracted backgrounds. But the one aspect I was immediately drawn to was the shoe being filmed practically.

The shoe itself is positioned on a turntable, shot at high speed from multiple angles and using choreographed camera moves. Much of it was storyboarded. But room was left for improvisation, both on set and in post. And that’s the part that appealed to me most.

Editorial took the tempo to a certain degree, leaving the Flame to finesse the kinetic flow of the edit. Once that was in place, the CG team could start on the abstracted bending basketball court background, animated to reflect the versatility of the shoe’s enhancing performance.

Compositing required rig removal, roto, and the integration of CG backgrounds. Occasionally, on a selected take, the shoe went out of frame, necessitating a 2D rebuild of the missing parts.

2D text layers were tracked to the shoe’s movement.

Kellogg’s: “Take Flight”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Logan
CLIENT: Kellogg’s

Not entirely sure how I feel about a liquid Kellogg’s bottled breakfast to go. But that was focus on this particular spot, thankfully told through a whimsical flying spoon motif. Also, not sure how that metaphor specifically applies to breakfast, although the narrative makes a concerted effort to connect the morning meal dots.

This project was mostly straightforward, with the bulk of the work featuring CG flying spoons, a liquid transition, and some background plate clean-up. Some late in the game notes added sky replacements, as well as a few city shots needing some architectural rearrangement, specifically to bring more focus to the spoon armada.

Another late challenge that popped up was a change in the bottle label and shape. Since this was a new soon-to-be-released product from Kellogg’s, some of the design aesthetics were still in flux. Consequently, the product needed label replacement and shape adjustments for all featured shots. That was a bit tricky, requiring some hand-tracking and warping to make it all stick. Plus, a little plate clean-up to fill in the holes left by the bottle adjustments.

Also, the bottles falling from the sky were rigged to land in the given talent’s hand, which necessitated some stabilization and wire removal for both product and hand.

MSMR: “Hurricane”

MUSIC VIDEO
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Logan
CLIENT: Columbia Records
DIRECTOR: Luke Gilford

Director Luke Gilford is one of those young and gifted talents that actually has a visual style all his own. Previously, I’ve worked with him on a few interesting commercial spots. But it wasn’t until MS MR’s video for “Hurricane” that I really realized what he was capable of.

Designed to provoke reactions through abstract imagery, the video evolves like a futuristic fashion shoot through a collage of “human” imagery, with blue skinned women, growing tattooed scalps, and multi-eyed beauties, to name a few. The imagery ranges from bizarre, grotesque, striking, surreal, and gorgeous.

My contributions tended to be on the bizarre and striking, adding additional eyes to a woman’s cheeks for multiple shots, and augmenting tattooed scales on a woman’s head that grow like spilled ink on paper. I also contributed some minimal beauty work to various shots, as the director preferred to keep the imagery pure rather than perfect.