LONG-FORM TRIBUTE SPOT ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor VENDOR: The Mill AGENCY: TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A.
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.
COMMERCIAL ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor VENDOR: The Mill PRODUCTION CO: Hungry Man 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.
COMMERCIAL CAMPAIGN ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor VENDOR: The Mill AGENCY: Wieden+Kennedy PRODUCTION CO: Reset DIRECTOR: Gary Freedman
I think I’ve seen this boat cruising in and out of Marina del Rey from time to time.
That said, these two KFC spots were shot in Long Beach. The boat was docked for some insurance/regulatory reason I’m unsure about, since I don’t actually own or operate a boat. This little snafu meant replacing all the backgrounds for the deck/interior shots. I added open water and the Caribbean island for most of the wide shots in both spots.
Also, the boat’s exterior didn’t have all the KFC branding, so I added some red decals to a couple of shots. Additionally, there was some clean-up of a ceiling rig, food beauty and steaming, and further populating of the decks with more people.
Surprisingly, no beauty work was needed for the Colonel, a.k.a. George Hamilton. His extra crispy look was good as is.
COMMERCIAL ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor VENDOR: The Mill AGENCY: Draftfcb
I was going through a bit of a food phase with the projects I was asked to work on. This Taco Bell spot was the second food brand in a trio, the others being KFC and Chobani. All different agencies. All unrelated and purely coincidental. And for the most part, equally fun in their own way.
I assembled the whole first half of the spot, including the chair pullback into the shelf sanctuary. There was a handful of cleanup, mainly greeking of all the book titles, with the exception of the hero book, and the addition of paper airplanes and other tossed objects.
The chair pullback was challenging, despite being mostly shot in camera. The rig removal was substantial. But a requested retiming of elements triggered a complete rebuild of the library environment. Lots of roto and creation of clean plates that weren’t shot to accommodate fix-it-in-post notes.
COMMERCIAL CAMPAIGN ROLE: Flame Artist / VFX Compositor VENDOR: The Mill AGENCY: Chobani PRODUCTION CO: MJZ DIRECTOR: Dante Ariola
These magical Chobani spots marked the beginning of a trio of unrelated food products I worked on, the former two being Taco Bell and KFC.
I truly enjoyed contributing to these visuals, each a stylized children’s fairy tale-ish fantasy, all centered around the concept of Flipland, an imaginary world inspired by Chobani’s gimmicky flip container for its yogurt. Minor amounts of CG augmented a mostly in-camera and 2D enhanced workload of visual effects.
Shot indoors, each required environment extensions, ranging from tricky forests that intersected warehouse rafters to wheat fields that needed to grow for miles to flowered landscapes with painterly mountains. I contributed to a handful of each, relying mostly on replicating plate photography with Flame camera tracks.
I also worked on fairy dust, magical door light, and blooming flowers for “A Little Door.” And I handled rig removal and the addition of more flying food for “Food Fight.”
SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor VENDOR: The Mill AGENCY: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners PRODUCTION CO: Reset DIRECTOR: Nabil
This was a great way to start out 2018, super-bowling with Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman. CG ice and matte painted rooms, creatively art directed for maximum sizzle and cool. I handled most of the ice’d wide shots of Morgan, as well as his icy breath. Too bad “Game of Thrones” went off the rails in its final season, and Morgan had to end up on the wrong side of “Me Too.” With the passage of time, it puts a whole different spin on this spot. Music by Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliot.
SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor VENDOR: The Mill AGENCY: DAVID Miami PRODUCTION CO: Biscuit Filmworks DIRECTOR: Jeff Low
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.
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.
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.
COMMERCIAL ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor VENDOR: Logan CLIENT: Target AGENCY: Mono
Target’s Everyday Collection campaign offered the opportunity to design a classy new look to a mainstream brand.
The spots mash high fashion with everyday products in a visually outrageous style. For “Bake Sale,” a gorgeous model walks the runway amongst slow motion exploding cake boxes. For “Laundry,” she floats through a giant metaphorical washing machine, searching for her missing sock. In “Under Pressure, she tackles making oats with a fire hose. Sure, it’s ridiculous. But that’s the point. And “Ravenous” and “Cowgirl” demonstrate the challenges of handling newborns, or soon to be.
All of these spots were created in Flame. And for five of the eight that debuted during this year’s Golden Globes, I served as Lead Flame Artist at Logan LA. As you can probably imagine, there was tons of beauty and clean-up work, to make everyone and everything look absolutely perfect. Also, there were a few tricky compositing and compositional challenges, particularly with “Bake Sale’s” exploding powder, and “Laundry’s” swirling fabric and bubbles. These were achieved through practical elements, assembled during many lengthy interactive client sessions.
In addition, Flame Artist Brandon Sanders contributed product blast shots to “Under Pressure.”