- Production Company
- Biscuit Filmworks
- Noam Murro
- Method Studios
- Los Angeles
This effects heavy commercial for Verizon promotes their new Droid Bionic smart phone amongst a sea of sparks, futuristic whips, brutish robots and one feisty brunette. The arena witnesses a female warrior battle a variety of creatures all of whom are linked to the phone’s capabilities: HDMI bot, Dual-Core bot and 4G Lightning bot. Each trophy from the defeated cyborgs combine to form the new Droid Bionic.
TAKING ON THE BATTLE
With such a VFX-heavy spot, determining what the CG robots and the surrounding CG environment would look like posed the biggest challenge to the Method team. “Any time you have an all-green screen set, opinions will vary on how things should look, said Method VFX Supervisor Sean Faden. “We did a lot of initial concept work and then realized more detail was needed.”
Another challenge was working from an edit with no animation. “We definitely had our work cut out for us without any animation to work from,” offered Faden. “Although a pre-viz was created, it was done just before shooting, and ended up being not particularly relevant to the final cut. Method artists worked in MAYA creating animations and suggested tweaks to the edit that were necessary once the action was figured out.”
In response to the challenges of creating an all-digital realistic environment, Method’s EVP and Senior VFX Supervisor, Dan Glass also contributed to the process. Says Faden, “he was instrumental in helping us define the look of the arena and taking the initial CG renders and look-dev to the next level.”
INTEGRATION OF ELEMENTS
Volumetric elements for the arena were created in Houdini, and then composited in Nuke and Flame, under compositing supervisors Patrick Ferguson and Jeff Allen, as well as lead Flame Jonathan Lagache. “One of the challenges of shooting someone on a greenscreen is making them feel like they’re there,” continues Faden. “Of course when it was shot, nobody knew what this arena would look like and how many lights there would be. What helped us integrate her into the environment was that we had these giant vertical lights around the arena, and every time you saw one of these we flared out the foreground a little bit and washed the lights over her, which helped tie her in.”
Company 3 co-founder/colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld took a first pass at grading the spot and fellow CO3 colorist Tom Poole performed final grading. The environments and robots were rendered in V-Ray, while effects were created in Houdini and rendered in Mantra. Compositing was done in Nuke and Flame and tracking was done in PFTrack.
The Method team enjoyed a great rapport with Murro as well the creatives. “Designing robots from scratch is a tall order and everyone at mcgarrybowen was patient and trusting throughout the creative process,” offered Faden. “You know you are on to a winner when the agency is using your concept work for their wallpaper backdrops!”
- Hard surface