NFL | Super Bowl LIV: “The Next 100”

NFL: “The Next 100: Super Bowl LIV”

NFL: “The Next 100: Super Bowl LIV Teaser: Hot Dog Cart”

NFL: “The Next 100: Super Bowl LIV Teaser: One Take”

NFL: “The Next 100: Super Bowl LIV Teaser: Aaron Donald and Joey Bosa”

NFL: “The Next 100: Super Bowl LIV Teaser: Jugs Machine”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: 72andSunny
DIRECTOR: Max Malkin

How do you top last years’ NFL Super Bowl entry “The 100 Year Game,” which featured just about every NFL star player your could think of?

You not only do the same, but you take it on the road, cross-country and coast-to-coast, in a game to end all games.

This year’s long-form NFL spot for Super Bowl LIV features a young boy, playing football in a rural town, who decides the field just isn’t big enough, and opts to keep running past the goal and beyond. Along his path, he encounters numerous NFL vets and pros, urging him to “Take it to the House Kid.”

When he finally arrives at the Hard Rock Stadium in Florida, the filmed spot segues into a live broadcasted segment of the boy, and a crowd of young football fans, entering the stadium, delivering the ball for the game kick-off. The finished spot spliced in the live portion for subsequent broadcast.

“The Next 100” was a massive project, at 2.5 minutes in length, with upwards to 100 effects shots, 20+ unique social deliverables, and a little under a week and a half to finish it all. The team was large, lead by The Mill’s Adam Lambert, with numerous senior artists working as fast as possible to deliver the project early enough to allow rehearsals for the live televised segment. To top it all off, none of us was really quite sure if it was actually going to work.

As I did for the previous year’s “The 100 Year Game,” I primarily handled all the social deliverables for “The Next 100,” four of which are included above. These featured shots from the long-form spot, as well as unique takes, and additional or extended shots. Some of my shots ended up in the long-form. Some long-form shots ended up in the socials. And whenever I had downtime, I picked up additional work from the long-form.

It was a big, high-speed juggling act that required everyone to be in top-form from start to finish.

As is common with these NFL spots, clean-up was abundant, from unlicensed signage to t-shirt logo removal to all that subjective stuff that makes shots look better. There was a fair share of plate retiming, and the subsequent paint-work that comes with it, as well as greenscreen comps, split-screens, matte paintings, etc.

On my end, I also had the usual finishing tasks that come with social deliverables, including alternate edits, subtitling, supers, color corrections, shot repos, and pan-and-scan treatments for various aspect ratios, all specific to the given delivery formats.

Full Credits

Super Bowl 2019 | NFL: “The 100 Year Game”

ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: 72andSunny
DIRECTOR: Peter Berg

How many NFL stars can fit into one two minute commercial? Apparently, all of them. At least, it seemed that way at the time. Short turnaround spot with lots of random nit picky clean up notes. A few hair and head transplants to mask the stunt doubles. And lots of carpet grooming. What else would you expect from a Super Bowl spot?

Full Credits

Super Bowl 2018 | Doritos: “Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
AGENCY: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

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.

Full Credits

Super Bowl 2017 | Legion Promo: “Swaddled”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: The Mill
DIRECTOR: Paul Tolton

Ove the years, the promos and print campaigns for the FX series Legion,” which is tangentially based on the X-Men series, have been exceptionally creative and wholly unique. I particularly love the current season 3 psychedelic poster campaign.

I bring all this up, because I was privileged to work on the first round of televised promos for the series debut. At the time, no one really knew what the series could or would be. So the creative marketing was an open book, which made it exciting to be a part of. Also, and quite surprisingly, the spot that I worked on proved to be some of the most challenging work I’ve done.

Essentially, I had to rebuild the baby for the latter half of the promo, due to a fluid creative direction of how/where the baby levitates. Needless to say, the plates didn’t cover the full length of the body during the push-in, which was very much shot in camera, as originally intended. It took three different baby takes to make it work. Of course, no one will ever know. And I take satisfaction in that.

Full Credits

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.

Full Credits

Super Bowl 2015 | Kia: “The Perfect Getaway Vehicle”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDER: The Mill
AGENCY: David & Goliath
DIRECTOR: Mathis Van Heijningen

Pierce Brosnan relives his 007 glory days in this clever twist of a snow-driven adventure. I handled all the indoor office window comps and Brosnan beauty work. I also worked on an owl blink, some car beauty, snow clean-up, and a nitpicky smoothing fix on his down coat towards the end of the spot. I probably did a few other odds and ends. But the distance of time has fogged the memory somewhat.

Full Credits

Dr. Pepper: “Thor”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Digital Domain
CLIENT: Dr. Pepper

This Dr. Pepper spot was first conceived for the Super Bowl, but through the powers-that-be, instead revised to be a cross-promotion to coincide with the May release of Marvel’s “Thor.”

As such, the spot benefited from better footage to choose from, as many FX shots from the film had yet-to-be completed, improved integration with the film (the Destroyer’s fire beam was originally a lightning bolt from Thor), and an opportunity to further revise the sky replacements and storm composites.

I handled the Flame duties, while compositors Sven Dreesback and Arthur Argote took on a majority of the Nuke work.

My primary Flame tasks were removal of unwanted awning poles, street lights, and trees, plate blending for multiple takes of Stan Lee, minor beauty work on Lee, and the standard keeping of the conform. I also handled some Nuke shots, further refining composite edges of talent for sky replacements, as well as updated comps to accommodate new takes.

Dodge Charger: “The Future of Driving”

ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Digital Domain
DIRECTOR: Carl Erik Rinsch

Originally slotted for Super Bowl 2011, this Dodge commercial ultimately found its way to the internet a few months later. A long colorful journey precedes its cancellation. But for all practical purposes, let’s just say that the powers-that-be simply just didn’t get it.

Designed as a counterpoint to contemporary car conveniences, the spot depicts the Charger as a no-frills driving machine. This is achieved through an absurdist extrapolation of technology and the future, where an automated lifestyle doesn’t always lead to a satisfactory one.

A number of compositors worked on this spot, but my contributions primarily consisted of futuristic apartment interiors (the clothes changing device, the automated door handle), some garage clean-up (rig and greenscreen removals), and the beautifying of all of the running car footage (car and street clean-up, color grading). I also contributed some interior car robot comps, particularly focused on the animated face.

Additionally, I managed the conform, accommodating all editorial changes, which doesn’t seem like much … unless you take into consideration that the edit was never truly “locked,” and on delivery day, we were receiving edit v84 from the agency.

NFL: “Run”

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.