Nike Basketball: “Bring Your Game”


LONG FORM COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: Wieden+Kennedy (Portland)
PRODUCTION CO: Superprime
DIRECTOR: Rick Famuyiwa

Nike loves their long-form commercials, which tend to play like short-films. I’m never quite sure how to classify them, because they’re a little of both.

Anyway, Nike’s “Bring Your Game” is an all-star celebration of basketball’s greatest players, as four kids travel across the country in search of their favorite player. This lends itself to all manner of self-mockery and humorous parody, as each player exaggerates their quirks and perceived eccentricities.

At five minutes in length, there’s quite a few shots that required various forms of clean-up and augmentation, all invisible to the average person, exempting perhaps, the holographic Anthony Davis.

There’s too many shots to list individually. But a few stand-outs come to mind. I tackled the KD dunk sequence, with removal of windows, furniture and wall fixtures, as well as a poster image replacement that the kid with glasses receives. Both the front image and the back color needed to be swapped, proving for some tricky tracking and re-integration.

There were a few day time shots that needed to be switched to night, due to continuity issues. The most challenging was the sequence with the kids boarding a bus on a busy afternoon street. Everything needed to be roto’d and color corrected, and in some instances, replaced.

And then there were a number of LeBron James courtside shots that required crowd greeking. In other words, if it wasn’t LeBron or the kids, then none of the audience could be recognizable. This was handled through face replacements, focal tricks, or median blurring, depending on what worked best for the shot.

I also managed the conform, which was a bit more challenging than usual, due to its length, and the constantly revolving editorial revisions.

Full Credits

Comcast Business: “Going Up”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: Ogilvy & Mather (New York)
DIRECTOR: Oskar Holmedal

I really like the technical and creative challenges of this Comcast spot. Unfortunately, I was only able to assist for the latter half of its schedule, so I didn’t get to contribute as much as I’d hoped.

That said, I handled a number of screen comps in the various rooms that are seen as the camera ascends the building. These were a bit tricky, due to the extreme nature of the camera move, as well as the accompanying lens distortion. For the most part, the standard plate undistorts and 3D tracks proved ineffective, meaning most of it had to be hand-tracked. The exterior window glass didn’t help either.

I also handled roof extensions and transitional wall patches for the opening ground level shot, up until the camera reaches the first visible office. There was a lot of give and take here, since this opening movement set the pace for the remainder of the spot.

The most exciting task I handled was the entire concluding rooftop sequence, which was shot practically, but needed extensive augmentation. All the buildings needed to be straightened, due to the natural curvature caused by the camera lens. The sky needed to be replaced, with all the integration issues that come with it – reflections, grading, lightwrap, etc. Birds were added, just because … And timing and camera movement needed additional adjustment to work seamlessly with the one-take motif utilized throughout.

Gatorade: “Moving the Game Forward”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: TBWA\Chiat\Day
DIRECTOR: Max Malkin

Gatorade moves the game forward with this athletic showcase from all sports disciplines.

Although mostly invisible, this spot had a tremendous amount of work done on it, from CG stadiums and crowds, matte paintings of various worldwide locations, the addition of trophies, some of which weren’t allowed to be photographed, literal ring bling, and all around uniform clean-up. I don’t think there was a shot that wasn’t touched and retouched.

I contributed numerous odds and ends to this spot. But my two largest sequences were Lionel Massi and Elena Delle Donne.

The former required an entire rebuild of the shot, due to client dissatisfaction with the plate’s original photography, which was shot on greenscreen. This included a CG crowd and stadium, more photographers, camera flashes, confetti, the alteration of security uniforms, and a cleaner, shinier trophy.

The latter needed crowd replication, stolen from alternate takes, and multiple handheld face posters of Delle Donne to replace the practical ones shot on the day. Both tasks were tricky, thanks to the dynamic photography, the barrage of camera flashes, and the frantically waving posters, which all needed to be hand tracked.

I also did some crowd replacements for the football shot in the rain, as well as enhanced the ring bling, and tidied up the end shot uniforms.

Jack Ü: “To Ü” feat. AlunaGeorge


MUSIC VIDEO
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
PRODUCTION CO: Park Pictures
DIRECTOR: AJ Rojas

These days, I always welcome a music video, when, on the off chance, it actually does enter my domain. I have a long history with the music industry, albeit at a much earlier stage in my career, prior to all this Flame stuff. Anyway, I don’t always get to work on these videos, due to my bookings leaning more and more into commercials and online media. But every now and then, one comes along, and the nostalgia kicks in.

This particular video from Jack Ü, a.k.a. Diplo and Skrillex, doesn’t conjure the sound of those days of old. But the spirit still remains, offering four minutes of naturistic documentary-styled photography, an organically assembled visual flow, and an impressionistic collage of young romance.

Workwise, this wasn’t a particularly difficult project, essentially one long conform, featuring some additional color grading, and a little bit of clean-up and/or beauty. Fairly straightforward. But like I said, welcome nonetheless.

I should also add that I had the pleasure of 2D supervising an earlier commercial effort with director AJ Rojas, who’s enthusiasm and openness to the artform made for an enjoyable experience.

Full Credits

Google Nest: “Talking Houses”


Google Nest: “Talking Houses: 127 Willow Lane”

Google Nest: “Talking Houses: 36 Spring Street”

Google Nest: “Talking Houses: 208 Ridge Road”

COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: Google
PRODUCTION CO: Park Pictures
DIRECTOR: Chris Wilcha

To promote their Smart Home initiative, Google Nest opted to let the homes tell their own stories, literally. The personification of these three houses reflect memories of the families and events that have taken place within their walls. You might even recognize some of the talent lending their voices to these homes.

All three were exercises of subtlety in storytelling, crafting an idyllic and naturalistic visual narrative that signified familiarity. This meant beautifying home exteriors, landscaping yards, and augmenting various rooms, all through the wonders of 2D compositing and clean-up. The idea was to present a home that could be your own, if not in actuality, than in spirit.

Specific vignettes required additional comp work. “36 Spring Street” featured a pseudo-timelapse of its exterior remodels, as well as depictions of seasonal changes. “127 Willow Lane” had a shaggy dog that needed to blend into a shag carpet, and a load of period-related interior adjustments, particularly the conversation room. And “208 Ridge Road” had a racoon bandit, shot practically, that needed a bit of retiming and clean-up.

Also, each spot had Nest devices that required product beauty and screen comps for the given displays. The round UI for the thermostat was a bit tricky to make stick. And the background wallpaper for each house needed styling to make the device stand-out.

Gatorade: “Sweat with the Best”

Gatorade: “Sweat with the Best: Bryce Harper”

Gatorade: “Sweat with the Best: Dwyane Wade”

Gatorade: “Sweat with the Best: Jimmie Johnson”

COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: TBWA\Chiat\Day
PRODUCTION CO: Caviar
DIRECTOR: Amir Farhang

These humorous Gatorade spots depict the sports-themed daydreams of average guy Cory, who envisions himself as an integral player in the games of Bryce Harper, Dwyane Wade, and Jimmie Johnson. The campaign featured two additional spots with Serena Williams and Peyton Manning. But I didn’t work on those, so they’re not included here.

My favorite of the three is Bryce Harper, mainly because I was allowed to design a fantasy baseball stadium with impossible physics and stylized aesthetics. With the exception of Cory, Harper, and the background players, as well as the foreground field, the entire environment was replaced with 2D matte painted cards. Flame camera tracks were utilized for placement, with some additional hand tracking for finesse. Flares and filters used to shape the dream-like ambience.

The Dwyane Wade-centric spot also required background augmentation. But in this case, since the crowd’s mostly shrouded in darkness, exempting the occasional camera flash, these replacements/extensions could be more suggestive than literal. Auditorium lighting and scoreboards were also added. Cory’s gravity defying moves required the typical greensceen comp work.

Peyton Manning was the most and least straightforward of the three spots I handled. The work was simple because only a few background matte paintings were needed, along with some minimal cleanup and augmentation. The complications arose from the actual stylings of the race track environment. There isn’t a lot of screen real estate to work with, so the background bleacher scale proved challenging, to achieve a proper read on it. Ultimately, the client chose to obscure most of it by a thick layer of haze/smoke, which fortunately, lent itself to the dream aesthetic. Additionally, some repo/timing adjustments were needed for the time-lapse pitstop sequence.

Full Credits

Audi: “The Drones”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: Venables Bell & Partners
PRODUCTION CO: MJZ
DIRECTOR: Dante Ariola

This Audi spot draws clear inspiration from Hitchcock’s “The Birds” to demonstrate the handling and navigational features of the new A6 model, which of course, is being pursued by aggressive Amazon-looking delivery drones.

All of the drones in this spot were CG, requiring extensive integration and tracking. There was a bit of give and take with the building façade and surrounding trees, to achieve the optimal layout for the drones in their resting state. This included raising the height of the building, replacing open areas with windows, and repositioning trees.

For the initial attack shots, the running crowd was duplicated and retimed to depict the maximum level of excitement and tension.

The drone pursuit of the Audi required road clean-up and car beauty, as well as drone impacts with power lines and a collision with the overpass. 2D smoke, debris, and sparks were added for dramatic impact.

I handled the wide attack shots, as the crowd escapes the building, as well as a couple of resting state shots. I also contributed to the Audi pursuit, and overpass impact.

Full Credits

Coors Light: “reFRESH”

Coors Light: “reFRESH: Anthem”

Coors Light: “reFRESH: Andre Woolery”

Coors Light: “reFRESH: Don C”

COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: Commonground
PRODUCTION CO: Chromista
DIRECTOR: Daniel Portrait

Simple, slick and stylish campaign for Coors Light. I did a bit of conform work, clean-up, grading, and comp’d a few signs and crowds, here and there. Project was mainly done out of The Mill’s Chicago office. But I worked in Los Angeles.

At the time, I wasn’t familiar with Andre Woolery, Don C, or any of the others featured in the “Anthem” spot. Honestly, I’m still not. But they make for a reFRESHing set of spots (pun intended, and truly cringeworthy).

Full Credits

Super Bowl 2015 | Kia: “The Perfect Getaway Vehicle”


SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDER: The Mill
AGENCY: David & Goliath
PRODUCTION CO: MJZ
DIRECTOR: Mathis Van Heijningen

Pierce Brosnan relives his 007 glory days in this clever twist of a snow-driven adventure. I handled all the indoor office window comps and Brosnan beauty work. I also worked on an owl blink, some car beauty, snow clean-up, and a nitpicky smoothing fix on his down coat towards the end of the spot. I probably did a few other odds and ends. But the distance of time has fogged the memory somewhat.

Full Credits

Audi: “Force of Nature: Summer”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mission
AGENCY: Venables Bell & Partners
PRODUCTION CO: Furlined
DIRECTOR: Douglas Avery

This was the last project I did at the Mission. It’s one of two spots to commemorate the change in seasons, in this case the start of summer. The Audi’s presence literally alters the atmosphere as it drives through the landscape.

I comp’d a number of sky replacements, depending on the before/after context, handled a fair bit of car beauty, and worked on the beach transitions, primarily with the sunbathers and the umbrellas. There was also some environment clean-up and replacements, like the ocean and sand. I explored some concepts for the wave-like transition element that travels through the spot, some of which ended up in the final version.