Microsoft Studios | Epic Games: “Gears of War 3: Walls of Brotherhood”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Digital Domain
CLIENT: Microsoft Studios | Epic Games
PRODUCTION CO: Mothership
DIRECTOR: Aladino Debert

“Walls of Brotherhood” consists of six spots, each depicting a different stage of destruction of a large triangular walled object. As explosions occur, an etched mural depicting the Gears of War story is revealed behind the debris. The above featured clip is a compilation of highlights from all six spots.

The primary task was to augment or completely replace the murals being revealed. Per client critique, plate photography explosions were great, but the murals beneath them didn’t read as effectively as intended.

This posed a few unique challenges. To replace the murals behind the blank walls, a number of keying and color correction techniques were implemented to create a convincing composite. For the murals exploding to reveal the statues, additional warping, hand-tracks, and g-masks were utilized to shatter the newly replaced murals.

Additionally, parallax was added to static shots, and unwanted exploding debris was removed.

Myself and Jeff Heusser contributed to 5 of these spots. Lisa Tomei worked on the exploding logo at the end of the featured compilation, which chronologically was the campaign’s first spot.

Ubisoft: “Brothers in Arms: Furious 4”


E3 VIDEO GAME TRAILER
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Digital Domain
CLIENT: Ubisoft
PRODUCTION CO: Mothership
DIRECTOR: Aladino Debert

During my latter days at Digital Domain, I worked on a number of game cinematics, E3 trailers, and promotional spots.

The studio just inherited Robert Zemeckis’ mo-cap stage in Playa Vista, which was perfect for creating game-related content. And their internal production company Mothership boasted a roster of directors that were looking to branch out from commercial work. Cinematics and long-form trailers proved am appealing medium for broader storytelling.

This brings us to one of their earlier efforts, “Brothers in Arms: Furious 4,” directed by longtime VFX supervisor and Mothership member Aladino Debert. This ultraviolent, WWII fantasy assumed a Tarantino-flavored take on killing Nazis.

At the time, it was created as an announcement trailer for E3. But apparently, after the gaming conference, it was deemed a little too close to Tarantino’s wartime fantasy “Inglorious Bastards,” and was consequently changed quite a bit from what you see here.

History aside, the trailer itself was tons of fun to work on, albeit sometimes pretty eye-opening in its irreverent take on wartime vengeance. All of the CG was comp’d in Nuke by a talented roster of artistd. I had the opportunity to tackle a couple of shots in Flame, although most of my contributions were touch-ups and flourishes that occurred on top of Nuke comps.

I also managed the conform, handled all animated titling, treated the overall style and grade, and crafted additional explosive and flash effects in 2D.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta: “Strong for Life”


PSA
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Digital Domain
CLIENT: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
PRODUCTION CO: Mothership
DIRECTOR: David Rosenbaum

As metaphor for the benefits of playtime, this PSA features giant-sized children engaged in a game of hide-and-seek throughout the streets of Atlanta.

This is one of those spots where I was brought in late in the schedule to help finish. As such, I only worked on a couple of shots, primarily with kids sitting on a rooftop, and children chasing each other down streets.

The primary challenge was integrating the greenscreen plates of normal-sized children into city footage to make them feel as if they were the size of buildings. Much of this was achieved with 2D re-lighting and interactive shadows, along with typical comp needs such as DOF, color, and the proper keys, edges, and holdouts.

Sony Interactive Entertainment | Guerrilla Games: “Killzone 3”


VIDEO GAME CINEMATIC (STEREOSCOPIC)
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Digital Domain
CLIENT: Sony Interactive Entertainment | Guerrilla Games
PRODUCTION CO: Mothership
DIRECTOR: Vernon Wilbert

This cinematic was one of my earliest forays into video game production. I was mainly a Flame conform artist for this portion of the wartime sci-fi epic “Killzone 3.” But considering its complexity in storytelling and pacing, I also served a bit on the editorial side. Plus, the most interesting challenge for me was that the entire cinematic was designed and rendered for stereoscopic viewing. That’s 3D to you and me.

At the time, assembling a 3D conform and aiding in the design of depth was a completely new territory in my experience. The industry was still undergoing a 3D renaissance, with new digital techniques and a bit of a wild west attitude. So a lot of what I did involved a try-anything approach, with full reign to experiment and innovate. Without question, that was fun.

Although commonplace today, back then, I had a fair-sized learning curve with color grading, stylistic treatments, and 2D effects work. And the stereoscopic editorial timeline not only doubled the amount of work, but also required an intuitive understanding of depth and convergence for each individual shot.

Mazda Cx7: “Director’s Cut”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Digital Domain
CLIENT: Mazda
PRODUCTION CO: Mothership
DIRECTOR: Dael Oates

Director Dael Oates originally shot this spot roughly three years prior to the current work done on it. Due to creative differences, the agency that commissioned it decided to go a different direction. Dael’s vision was never realized.

When Dael joined Digital Domain’s sister company Mothership, he finally had the opportunity to complete the work the way he always intended … hence, his director’s cut.

Dael shot a majority of the spot in camera, stop-motion-style, then enhanced it through editorial techniques.

Having worked with Dael before on 7 Days’ Croissants, I was brought on to enhance the edit, complete the visual effects, and color grade the entire spot.

Most of what you see is what he shot. Everything else was finished in Flame.

Sprint QIK: “Golf Cart”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / Nuke Compositor / Matte Painter
VENDOR: Digital Domain
CLIENT: Sprint
PRODUCTION CO: Mothership
DIRECTOR: David Rosenbaum

Third in the “salt flats” series, this Sprint spot showcases the streaming video capabilities of the EVO 4G, through a humorous vignette concerning a golfer, his girlfriend, and a golf cart.

I split duties on this job between Flame and Nuke, using the former for finishing, and the latter for compositing.

All of the salt flat environments are pan-and-tile backgrounds constructed from on-set photos and footage. The talent and the sliding train sets are all shot live action on greenscreen. The golf cart, for the most part, is CG. And the golf course is a matte painting I did in Photoshop with grass textures I found on the web.