Super Bowl 2016 | Heinz: “Wiener Stampede”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
PRODUCTION CO: Biscuit Filmworks

My clearest memory of working on this spot is watching all the office dogs try on the hot dog bun costume. Of course, it worked best on the little dogs. But that didn’t stop the big ones from trying.

This humorous Super Bowl spot for Heinz Ketchup has a visual play with the whole wiener dog conceit, transforming a pack of dachshunds into a literal hot dog stampede towards a row of anthropomorphized condiments. Harry Nilsson’s melancholic ballad “Without You” adds the sonic cherry on top.

Shot in Cape Town, the dog footage was surprisingly good, requiring little to no augmentation. There were a few tricky split screens to multiply the number of dogs, the most challenging being those running towards or away from camera. And the leap towards their owners, dressed in condiment costumes, required extensive retiming, repositioning, and 2D comp finesse.

There was also some bun and harness clean-ups, which were harder than they might seem, due to the running gallop. And the wide stampede shots required additional CG dogs, since production couldn’t round up that many dachshunds in South Africa, nor keep them under control long enough to get the shots – hence the split screens.

Additionally, there was human costume cleanup, as well as removal of trainers, crew members, orange cone markers, and occasional dirt kick-up from the field. Also, sky and background replacements got thrown in the mix, late in the game.

There was a large team, so the work was evenly divided. I mainly handled the tricky split screen gallop shots, all condiment clean-ups, a handful of harness/bun and field clean-ups, and a couple of background replacements. CG dogs were relegated to Nuke.

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