- Production Company
- Carl Rinsch
- Color Grading
- Company 3
- Method Studios
- Los Angeles
The Method LA team was thrilled to be commissioned to work on a follow up to the 2011 award-winning Kia ‘Share Some Soul’ campaign. Collaborating once again with advertising agency David & Goliath, Method enlisted its team of CG character specialists for ‘Bringing Down the House’ and re-introduced the iconic Kia hamsters to the advertising world.
The 2012 spot finds the hamsters winning over the audience of a Victorian-era opera house with their trademark style and attitude. The ad debuted during the MTV Video Music Awards and features the Axwell remix of the tune ‘In My Mind’. In a blaze of disco lights and laser beams, time traveling rodents transform the stuffy opera house into a raving dance party before flying off in their Kia Soul along an inter-stellar time tunnel.
ON STAGE WITH THE HAMSTERS
The commercial began production in Prague, Czech Republic in June under the guidance of production company MJZ and director Carl Rinsch. Method VFX Supervisor Andy Boyd, VFX Producer Mike Wigart and Tracking/Integration Supervisor Fabio Zapata were on hand to oversee the busy five-day shoot, which consisted of five professional dancers in hamster suits, a stunt hamster, and over two hundred costumed extras.
On set VFX supervision required extensive data wrangling, a B-unit set up for crowd duplication, and a lot of creative decision making with Rinsch and director of photography John Mathieson. Says Boyd, “I’ve always been a fan of Carl’s work, so it was exciting to revisit the hamsters we created last year with his input. Mathieson is a master cinematographer and he gave us a great framework to light our hamsters.”
DEVELOPING THE REALSIM
While production was underway in Prague, Method’s in-house CG team built upon the hamster setup created for ‘Share Some Soul’ and advanced the models using the latest state-of-the-art fur rendering techniques. According to Boyd, “The lighting in this spot is so much more complex and specific. We had to push our fur rendering techniques to new levels.”
Lighting Lead Brian Burke notes, “We added a physically-based translucency model which gave the fur greater volumetric qualities. We also wanted to make their eyes more expressive, so instead of rendering black spheres we modeled lenses and irises for each character to help bring them to life.”
MIXING CGI WITH LIVE ACTION
Method Head of 2D Patrick Ferguson led a team of Nuke artists to integrate the CG hamster renders with the practical dancer’s bodies, creating a seamless blend of CG and costuming. “We took the blending of the character components a step further this year by modeling clothing geometry that was match moved to the dancers. This made the light play and shadows feel more physical,” says Ferguson. “We also created a special gradient pass that enabled us to pick any area of fine hair on the hamster’s necks and layer it on top of the collars. This approach went a long way in terms of adding realism to the characters.”
Method Studios linked in through its seamless pipeline with sister facility Company 3 to allow Company 3 co-founder/colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld to perform the color grading for the spot as he had on the previous campaign.
Adweek recently cited the 2011 Kia ‘Share Some Soul’ spot as one of the top twenty most-watched advertisements in YouTube history and Method and David & Goliath hope to continue its massive popularity with this new installment of inspired hamster lunacy. “People love these hamsters. And we love working with them,” comments VFX Producer Mike Wigart, “We’re still waiting for our friends at D&G to pitch us the movie.”