Acura: “Safety”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / Nuke Compositor
VENDOR: Motion Theory
CLIENT: Acura
AGENCY: RP&
DIRECTOR: Kaan Atilla & Mathew Cullen

This is one of two spots for Acura. The premise centers on Acura’s superior ratings in car safety, as visually compared to numerous recognizable luxury cars, which are also perceived to be high-ranking in the safety deaprtment.

This is demonstrated through an elegant display of numerous iconic car badges and grills, cut together with voiceover. After branded images of Jaguar, BMW, and Lexus, to name a few, the spot concludes on Acura as the leader.

Sounds simple enough. But as car commercials go, everything has to look perfect, even if 90% of the spot features the competitors’ cars.

My role was to make these cars look as pristine as possible, using Nuke to eliminate unwanted rig reflections and dirt, clean up chrome artifacts, remove radiators behind the grillwork, combine multiple lighting passes, and replace the backgrounds.

I also handled conform duties in Flame.

Green Day: “Know Your Enemy”


MOTION THEORY
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Motion Theory
CLIENT: Warner / Reprise
DIRECTOR: Mathew Cullen

At the time, Green Day’s “Know Your Enemy” was the band’s first new material in more than five years. Thus, the music video needed to make an immediate and lasting impression – i.e. it had to kick-ass.

Known for their powerhouse performances, the live element of the video was a given. Director Mathew Cullen brought the concept of a “city under lockdown” to the table, where the band’s performance would be surrounded by ever-encroaching and oppressive prison imagery – guard towers, helicopters, walls, barb wire, etc.

My role focused on a number of tasks. I composited a couple of hero city-as-prison shots, as well as all the full-color fire shots, blending multiple plates to create maximum impact.

I also handled all the beauty work, making the band look younger and more vibrant than the night shoot would allow. And I tackled a number of location clean-ups, removing unwanted elements, signage, etc. that detracted from the over-arching dystopian concept.

Black Eyed Peas: “Boom Boom Pow”


MUSIC VIDEO
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Motion Theory
CLIENT: Interscope Records
DIRECTOR: Mathew Cullen & Mark Kudsi

When I started work on this video, the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” was already sitting comfortably at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Due to an unofficial leak, the song found it’s way to the internet well-before its scheduled debut. And needless-to-say, it’s popularity exploded. Hence, the band wanted a slick groundbreaking video, as soon as was deemed creatively possible.

To say the visual interpretation of “Boom Boom Pow” had a lot to live up to was a bit of an understatement.

Thematically, the video is all about transforming negative energy into positivity – i.e. the machine gun into a trumpet, the toxic barrel into a drum kit, the band into streaking light NRG, etc.

As Flame Artist, my role was primarily color grading and beauty work on all the band footage – i.e. making Fergie and co. look better than ever. Also, I did a fair bit of work on the digital energy glitch effects that appear throughout their performance.

Purex: “Thinnest Load of Laundry”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Nuke Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Motion Theory
CLIENT: Purex
DIRECTOR: Mark Kudsi

Promoting Purex’s new 3-in-1 laundry sheets, this spot compares the latest detergent innovation to the evolution of certain essential products throughout time. The comparison being how certain products have become thinner – cameras, television sets, and clothing, for example.

Visually, the established style aimed for a stop-motion appearance, with each of the products transforming from old to new, fatter to thinner.

The products were shot in real-time, situated on turntables with a white backing. The stop-motion appearance was added in comp, with in-betweens created to aid the fluidity of motion. Also, extensive clean-up was done to make the products throughout the ages look pristine and pleasant.

My tasks were focused on the television and clothing segments, as well as performing clean-up on the concluding washer and dryer.

Callaway: “Video Game”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Nuke Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Motion Theory
CLIENT: Callaway
DIRECTOR: Bryan Godwin

Professional championship golfer Phil Mickelson stars in this commercial to promote Callaway’s FT-9 driver. In an effort to portray golf from a hipper vantage point, while still demonstrating the intricacies of the new FT-9, the pitched concept was focused on video games.

Phil’s the golfer in the video game, and all the gaming parameters are based on his abilities and accomplishments. When Phil finally swings, the video game transforms into the real Mickelson on a real golf course.

My role in this spot was to work on the transition from video game to reality, 2D warping CG to match live action, as well as performing clean-up and color correction for the grass, trees, and numerous flying insects that orbited Phil.

NFL: “Run”


SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Motion Theory
CLIENT: NFL Networks
DIRECTOR: Mathew Cullen

NFL’s superbowl spot was designed to promote broadcast, online, and mobile coverage of the game. The commercial featured Oakland running back Darren McFadden in a continuous jog through the seasons to demonstrate that football season never ends. Add the debut of U2’s “Run” into the mix, and you’re ready for Game Day.

As one of four flame artists, my role was to clean-up, assemble, and comp elements for the training camp portion of the spot. This included tracking matte paintings, extending the football field, adding shadows, grading skies, repo-ing cheerleaders, and comping CG elements.

Considering a shorter than typical schedule, under a week, there was quite a bit of give and take to make this one work.

Sara Bareilles: “Gravity”


MUSIC VIDEO
ROLE: 2D Lead / Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Motion Theory
CLIENT: Epic Records
DIRECTOR: Mathew Cullen

The music video for “Gravity” was my most rewarding experience working with director Mathew Cullen at Motion Theory. He shot a one-take sequence of artist Sara Bareilles, who’s performance, while walking down a city street, depicts a symbolic journey that takes her to the edge of the universe.

All shot in-camera, street lights resembled stars and comets, an outdoor book stand appeared as Saturn, a ball of flowers looked like Jupiter, and a spray of water from a hydrant swirled like a spiral galaxy. A very unique and artful bit of work, to say the least.

My role was two-fold.

As Lead, I developed an efficient workflow that could successfully accommodate a one-take three and half minute video, then broke those elements out for a team of Flame and After Effects Artists to tackle under my supervision.

As Flame Artist, I designed the color grade to capture the feel of approaching the edge of the universe. I also augmented existing in-camera imagery with subtle 2D tricks that further emphasized elements without seeming artificial, such as creating starfields that mimicked the architecture of buildings, and adding nebula and galaxy effects to existing steam, lights, and water sprays.

McCain Chips: “The Farmer”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Nuke Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Motion Theory
CLIENT: McCain Chips
AGENCY: Beattie McGuinness Bungay
DIRECTOR: Mathew Cullen

McCain Chips is a European brand of frozen french fries, widely known for their elaborate and innovative advertising campaigns. For example, in one instance, they promoted their chips through an entire Bollywood musical number.

For this round, director Mathew Cullen found inspiration in the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” transplanting the visual symphony of a mouse magician to that of an ordinary farmer. As conductor, the farmer parts the clouds, raises the sun, causes it to rain, and ultimately grows a full crop of potatoes and sunflowers.

My role involved assembling a number of matte painted landscapes and stormy skies around the farmer. I also comp’d rows of sprouting CG potato plants and budding sunflowers onto bluescreen plates of practical ground furrows.

A couple of specific examples involve the first ray of sunlight causing a sunflower to blossom, and the hero wide shot of the farmer admiring his fully grown crop.

Nintendo: “World of Wonder”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: 2D Lead / Senior Nuke Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Motion Theory
CLIENT: Nintendo
AGENCY: Leo Burnett – Chicago
DIRECTOR: Bryan Godwin

Nintendo’s “World of Wonder” campaign promoted three game titles for its DS handheld platform. The concept focused on a group of Nintendo DS-playing kids, who through their gameplay, are transported to an imaginary world where their gaming materializes into reality.

As a boy plays “Mario Kart,” he’s in the middle of a racetrack with Mario in the lead. And as a girl plays “Nintendogs,” puppies interact with all the kids in the dog park. It’s a playful spot meant to be somewhat campy and corny, as well as highly stylized.

I worked on a number of shots for the “Mario Kart “and “Nintendogs” sequences. All the kids and puppies were shot on large greenscreen stages. All the characters and environments were matchmoved and created in CG, with some additional tracking tweaks and 2D effects added in comp.

HP Hands: “Fergie the Digital Dutchess”


COMMERCIAL
ROLE: Senior Nuke Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Motion Theory
CLIENT: Hewlett-Packard
AGENCY:  Goodby Silverstein & Partners
DIRECTOR: Mathew Cullen

As the latest in a series of HP commercials based around the clever use of hands, this Fergie spot signified a return to a visual concept that Motion Theory first pioneered for the technology company.

Except this time, the visual parameters could be expanded beyond what had been achieved before – namely, with previous hands spots featuring Mark Burnett (reality-TV based pioneer), Mark Cuban (billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner), and Pharrell Williams (musician/producer).

With Fergie as featured talent, the Black Eyed Peas vocalist brought a whole rhythmic aspect to the spot, opening the door for a more elaborate visual punctuation and sophistication.

My role as Flame Artist was tackling the beauty work on Fergie’s hands and arms, and occasionally her chin. As Nuke artist, I handled the greenscreen extraction and preliminary comp work on the spot’s first half, all the way until Fergie joins the dancers.

An amazing team of After Effects artists handled the expanding laptop and water sequences., which I also aided in compositing.