Milk-Bone: “Bring Your Pet to Work” | “Goldfish Jogging” | “Tortoise Fetch”

Milk-Bone: “Bring Your Pet to Work”

Milk-Bone: “Tortoise Fetch”

Milk-Bone: “Goldfish Jogging”

ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
CLIENT: The J.M. Smucker Company
DIRECTOR: Guy Shlemerdine

Admittedly, I’m a cat person. I’ve had dog’s in the past. And I get along with them just fine. But the feline persuasion ultimately wins me over. So I have somewhat mixed feelings with Milk-Bone’s tagline “Life’s More Fun with a Dog.”

That said, this collection of clever spots had just the right amount of silly satire to visually justify the aforementioned tag.

The anthem spot, “Bring Your Pet to Work,” perhaps best evidences this, with office workers bringing everything from tigers, goats, alligators, dolphins, bees, vultures, and of course, dogs.

Obviously, all these animals couldn’t be placed safely in the same environment, so compositing played a big role. Most animals were shot real, and layered together to make them appear in the same office. The dolphin was a prosthetic, and the bees were CG. Retiming and shadow integration were challenges. And there was the standard set clean-up, matte painted extensions, and a few greenscreens.

“Tortoise Fetch” and “Goldfish Jogging” are simpler riffs on the same motif. Both required less work on the compositing side, exempting perhaps a goldfish placed in a splashing glass bowl, as well as some grass clean-up.

The Milk-Bone campaign had four different Flame Leads who contributed to it, never at the same time, more like each of us passing the baton to the next artist. All of this was due to shifting schedules. I was the final artist in the chain, having to decode three artists prior work, often revising and redoing, depending on client notes, as well as re-conforming, and comping new shots. I hear each previous artist suffered similar experiences.

But fortunately, the final results speak for themselves.

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Quibi: “Asteroid” | “Bank Heist” | “Mr. The Rapper”

Quibi: “Asteroid”

Quibi: “Bank Heist”

Quibi: “Mr. The Rapper”

ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / Finisher
VENDOR: The Mill

It took me a while to wrap my head around the concept of Quibi, which I later learned is short for Quick Bites.

During my involvement with this campaign, the mobile-based streaming service hadn’t launched yet. There was the Super Bowl spot, “Bank Heist,” which had already aired, and consequently caused a bit of confusion, since it didn’t have the more descriptive “Anthem” spot to provide context. That 60 sec spot was released later, and created by a different set of artists.

So what exactly is a Quibi?

In short, it’s a serialized and episodic content platform that’s served in segments that are 10 minutes or less, all formatted to fit mobile devices, and designed to adapt to vertical or horizontal orientation. And it’s got former Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP CEO and current billionaire Meg Whitman running the show. So they’re seriously well-connected and well-funded.

Given that context, the entire campaign is built around the notion of a Quibi as a measurement of time.

When the bank robbing wheel-man is awaiting his partners in crime, he’s spending a Quibi of time watching Quibi. Similarly, when an extinction-level asteroid impact is imminent, the President and her staff choose to have their final moments, about a Quibi’s worth, spent engaged in their favorite Quibi programming.

Slightly high concept, a bit abstract, and somewhat darkly themed.

Chance the Rapper’s spot, which ties into his Quibi “Punk’D” reboot, sticks with the same concept, but plays more as a humorous character spot.

Visually, these spots are entirely straightforward, relying mainly on screen comps and 2D compositing, and various levels of clean-up, due to rights issues. All of it is invisible work, but there was quite a lot of it.

In addition to contributing to these three spots, I managed conforms and provided all the finishing tasks, as well as set-up the next round of spots, which were handed off to another artist.

NFL | Super Bowl LIV: “The Next 100”

NFL: “The Next 100: Super Bowl LIV”

NFL: “The Next 100: Super Bowl LIV Teaser: Hot Dog Cart”

NFL: “The Next 100: Super Bowl LIV Teaser: One Take”

NFL: “The Next 100: Super Bowl LIV Teaser: Aaron Donald and Joey Bosa”

NFL: “The Next 100: Super Bowl LIV Teaser: Jugs Machine”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: 72andSunny
DIRECTOR: Max Malkin

How do you top last years’ NFL Super Bowl entry “The 100 Year Game,” which featured just about every NFL star player your could think of?

You not only do the same, but you take it on the road, cross-country and coast-to-coast, in a game to end all games.

This year’s long-form NFL spot for Super Bowl LIV features a young boy, playing football in a rural town, who decides the field just isn’t big enough, and opts to keep running past the goal and beyond. Along his path, he encounters numerous NFL vets and pros, urging him to “Take it to the House Kid.”

When he finally arrives at the Hard Rock Stadium in Florida, the filmed spot segues into a live broadcasted segment of the boy, and a crowd of young football fans, entering the stadium, delivering the ball for the game kick-off. The finished spot spliced in the live portion for subsequent broadcast.

“The Next 100” was a massive project, at 2.5 minutes in length, with upwards to 100 effects shots, 20+ unique social deliverables, and a little under a week and a half to finish it all. The team was large, lead by The Mill’s Adam Lambert, with numerous senior artists working as fast as possible to deliver the project early enough to allow rehearsals for the live televised segment. To top it all off, none of us was really quite sure if it was actually going to work.

As I did for the previous year’s “The 100 Year Game,” I primarily handled all the social deliverables for “The Next 100,” four of which are included above. These featured shots from the long-form spot, as well as unique takes, and additional or extended shots. Some of my shots ended up in the long-form. Some long-form shots ended up in the socials. And whenever I had downtime, I picked up additional work from the long-form.

It was a big, high-speed juggling act that required everyone to be in top-form from start to finish.

As is common with these NFL spots, clean-up was abundant, from unlicensed signage to t-shirt logo removal to all that subjective stuff that makes shots look better. There was a fair share of plate retiming, and the subsequent paint-work that comes with it, as well as greenscreen comps, split-screens, matte paintings, etc.

On my end, I also had the usual finishing tasks that come with social deliverables, including alternate edits, subtitling, supers, color corrections, shot repos, and pan-and-scan treatments for various aspect ratios, all specific to the given delivery formats.

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HomeAdvisor: “Sweaters” | “Sliced Bread”

HomeAdvisor: “Sweaters”

Home Advisor: “Sliced Bread”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist | VFX Compositor
CLIENT: HomeAdvisor

These two humorously clever spots juxtapose the all-too-familiar challenges of DIY home improvement with the convenience and ease of using HomeAdvisor’s app to aid in said-challenges.

The first, “Sweaters,” required a bit of 2D comp work to frost and chill down the environment, adding and augmenting practically shots icicles, creating cold breath, and bulking up and rounding off sweaters that weren’t quite layered deeply enough. The dog is real, and the parrot is a combination of a puppeteered prop and an actual bird.

“Sliced Bread” required a series of split screens to craft the ceiling high stacks and stacks of toasted bread, which surprisingly, required little in the way of augmentation to make them look toastier.

Both spots also had the typical tasks of set clean-up, and of course, phone screen comps. The screen tracks were a little tricky in some cases. But nothing too unmanageable.

I assisted Kevin’s Robert Murdock in assembling these spots.

Budweiser: “Drink Wiser: Make the Right Right Call”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
CLIENT: Anheuser-Busch
AGENCY: McGarry Bowen LLC

Budweiser’s latest campaign arrives as a “public service” announcement, entitled “Drink Wiser,” encouraging frequent hydration between Buds – i.e. drinking plenty of water between all those beers to stay healthy.

To illustrate their message, Budweiser enlisted L.A. Lakers’ Danny Green and comedic actor Anthony Anderson. The long-form spot is titled “Make the Right Call,” and demonstrates the often outrageous, and totally beneficial, effects of drinking water regularly.

Green appears on the jumbotron during a Laker’s game, encouraging healthy hydration alongside responsible drinking. As spectator, Anderson tosses aside his Bud, and chugs a bottle of water instead, instantly boosting his brain power, and setting him on a wacky and wild winning course as new coach of the Lakers.

Of course, in the end, it all proves to be a fun-filled fever dream, ending as quickly as it began, with a nearby fan’s excited splash of water to his face to shake Anderson out of the all-too-real fantasy.

This long-form spot had its fair share of challenges, from CG crowds to upgrading a college basketball court to the necessary NBA standard. This included populating empty seats, extending floors and walls, modifying court colors and layout, adding jumbotrons, and adjusting light and atmosphere.

Additional shots required swapping Budweiser bottles for water bottles in the locker room and all the celebration shots, as well as creating a mock broadcast throughout Times Square.

I worked alongside Kevin’s Anthony Pettiti to finish “Make the Right Call.”

Domino’s: “Cheers to Domino’s” | “Risky Delivery”

Domino’s: “Cheers to Domino’s”

Domino’s: “Risky Delivery”

ROLE: On-Set Flame Compositor (Los Angeles Shoot)
VENDOR: Artjail, N.Y.
CLIENT: Domino’s
AGENCY: Crispin Porter & Bogusky
PRODUCTION CO: Arts & Sciences, L.A.
DIRECTOR: Matt Lenski

Riffing on iconic ’80s pop-culture references, this pair of Domino’s spots ties in their latest delivery and online ordering services with nostalgic character moments from memorable personalities of the era.

The former, titled “Cheers to Domino’s,” focuses on the loveable character of Norm from the sitcom “Cheers,” where everybody knows your name. The latter, “Risky Delivery,” recreates Tom Cruise’s infamous underwear dance from the coming-of-age comedy “Risky Business.”

New York-based shop Artjail contracted me to do a few days of on-set interactive Flame work for their Los Angeles shoot, which I might add, was a welcome diversion from my typical suite-bound duties. Working alongside VFX sup. Lee Towndrow and MD/EP John Skeffington, I was tasked with testing and ensuring that the on-set photography would be effectively usable in post – a luxury that compositors don’t always get, but often need.

Each spot had its own unique challenges.

For “Cheers,” scanned archival footage of Norm (actor George Wendt) entering the bar had to be composited with newly shot footage of a Domino’s pizza interior, mocked up to mimic the “Cheers” bar. This entailed multiple test comps, from tracking Wendt’s head onto a body double to utilizing the original Wendt footage in its entirety.

In the case of “Risky Business,” Tom Cruise wasn’t available to reprise his iconic role. But “Hamilton” actor and former winner of “Dancing with the Stars” Jordan Fisher was more than able to assume the mantle … with one minor exception. Fisher was recovering from a leg injury, which hampered his ability to perform certain moves, such as the scissor spread slide up from the floor into a full standing position. Through some careful editorial tricks and rough morphs, I was able to aid in finding a solution that effectively filled those gaps. And judging from the final result, it looks like these solutions worked in the final comps.

My only regret is that I didn’t get to work on Artjail’s post-production team to achieve the final result of these spots.

Here’s a link to Artjail’s team that comped and finaled these spots.

Gatorade | Dwyane Wade: “3 is the Magic Number”

ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill

Gatorade celebrates Dwyane Wade’s career with this found footage tribute spot, featuring music by John Legend. Inspiration is drawn from School House Rock, for those old enough to remember. Lots of clean-up and creative problem solving, thanks to legal.


Progressive Insurance: “Motaur: Wishes”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: Arnold Worldwide
DIRECTOR: Harold Einstein

Another quirky spot from Progressive, literally marrying man to motorcycle. Integration was a bit trickier than I thought. I can only imagine if I had to comp the opposite, with legs on the bottom, and motorcycle on top. This was a fun one.

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CPK: “Cauliflower Spin” | “Cauliflower Overhead”

CPK: “Cauliflower Spin”

CPK: “Cauliflower Overhead”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
DIRECTOR: Dave Laden

Strangely amusing pair of spots for CPK’s cauliflower crust pizza. Essentially, veggie mushroom cloud tumors sprouting from millennial heads. Hair integration was kinda tricky. And aesthetics were a bit trial and error. But overall, an enjoyable CG/2D hybrid project. Lots of wine was consumed.

Palms: “Unstatus Quo”

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

I didn’t see this one to completion, due to being moved to another project that needed a 2D lead. So sadly, I was just support. That said, I did get to work on some fun sections of this overindulgently over-the-top spot, including the ping-pong segment, various altered and vandalized Vegas signs, a couple of Marshmello segments, and some moments of Emily Ratajkowski in a narrow bathroom stall. Needless to say, this rebrand of an old Vegas hotel fully embraces contemporary decadence, complete with many, many cameos.

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