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.

Nike | NFL: “Vikings”


PROMO
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Logan
CLIENT: Nike, NFL

These all-CG Nike NFL promo spots signal the introduction of Nike-sponsored new uniforms for the given teams. Above is the Vikings spot. But I also worked on spots for the Dolphins and Jaguars.

These promos were tricky due to the compressed schedule (a perpetually common trend), and a need to split work between Flame and Nuke. This meant all the base comps were done in Nuke, with Flame being used to soften the CG curse that comes with short schedules and little time for revision.

All of my work was done on top of the base Nuke comps, which typically got things within 85-90% of the way there. Flame was used for enhancing CG integration through a variety of techniques, from introducing lens distortion and stylized DOF to re-lighting and re-grading elements to shape the focus and depth of given shots.

In addition, flares, glows, and vignettes were judiciously added to increase the impact of each spot.

Kia Canada: “Glasses” | “8 Bit” | “Toolbox”


Kia Canada: “Glasses”

Kia Canada: “8-Bit”

Kia Canada: “Toolbox”

COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Logan
CLIENT: Kia
AGENCY: Innocean Worldwide Canada

In addition to the finishing, I handled a number of visual aspects for these three Kia spots. “Glasses” is the 60 second hero spot. “8-Bit” and “Toolbox” are spin-offs that draw from specific shots in “Glasses.”

There were two big challenges. First, due to some undesirable plate photography, the footage needed to be transformed from a late afternoon cool temperature to a sunny mid afternoon warmth. Second, due to a tight schedule, a number of Nuke comps needed to be augmented, re-graded, or finished in Flame.

Also, there were additional tasks specific to each spot. For “Glasses,” I designed the POV look for the world as viewed through the glasses. For “8-Bit,” I worked on the look of the bee and resulting splat. And for “Toolbox,” I supervised a number of transformation shots.

In addition, there was the usual car and environment clean-up – everything from tires and rig reflections to signage and vagrant people.

Boys Noize: “What You Want”


MUSIC VIDEO
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Logan
DIRECTOR: Patrick Jean & Sebastien Loghman

Set to the electro-beats of Boys Noize, this clever superhero-inspired music video was directed by French duo Patrick Jean & Sebastien Logham. I never met Sebastien. But I did have the pleasure of working in a collaborative capacity with Patrick, who also handled a number of visual effects shots.

Primarily, I color-graded the entire video, approx. 130 shots, designing the look for each of the various sequences – the neighborhood, the mover, the cheerleaders, the church interior, etc.

Of these, I contributed additional effects work to the entire church sequence, from the moment Normal Guy enters the cathedral sanctuary to his transformation into a superhero.

Visual effects included adding all the stained glass windows to the interior, surrounding the priest in a transcendental aura, and creating Normal Guy’s ascension to superhero status, with glowing crystals and heavenly streaks of light.

Target: “The Everyday Collection”


Target” “The Everyday Collection: Bake Sale”

Target” “The Everyday Collection: Laundry”

Target: “The Everyday Collection: Under Pressure”

Target: “The Everyday Collection: Ravenous”

Target: “The Everyday Collection: Cowgirl”

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.”

Xbox Kinect: “What If”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Logan
CLIENT: Microsoft
AGENCY: Twofifteen McCann

At the outset, Xbox Kinect’s “What If” spots seemed fairly straightforward work. Most of the comps were being assembled in Nuke. Besides finishing, the only budgeted Flame work was crafting a “look” on top of those comps for a virtual room. But once the clients’ signed off on the “look,” this necessitated modifying the pipeline, where numerous compositing tasks would be shifted to Flame.

The spots, five in all with more than 50 additional versions for international markets, feature a host who gestures his way through a myriad of environments via the virtual room – living room, disco, business park, jungle, underwater, etc. The intention here is a metaphorical representation of the Kinect’s functionality.

The challenges were twofold. First, designing the “look” of the virtual room. Are the room’s surfaces projections or LCD’s? Are they rear or front projected? Are they reflective? Do they have texture? The solution had to work with approximately 20 different rooms. Second, the host. Shot on greenscreen, the host was lit incorrectly. His face was underexposed. His chest had a giant hotspot. His ruffled clothes caught light in all the wrong places. Extensive color correction and clean-up was required.