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TIME WARNER CABLE ‘Rain’

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This eerily dark commercial from agency Ogilvy and Mather, directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, promotes the successful HBO series True Blood and how Time Warner Cable provide their customers instant access to the hit show. In opposition to the typical scenarios you would expect promoting a vampire themed program – fights, chases, screams – this spot is centered on a singular, unique and unsettling theme – raining blood. Method stepped in to provide the attention grabbing VFX and Company 3 provided the finishing grade.

In the world Method Studios was asked to create, it's just another rainy day and no one seems to notice that the deluge from the sky is actually blood. We discover that the person whistling “Rain Drops Keep Falling on my Head” throughout the entire commercial is none other than Vampire Jessica from True Blood, who delights in tasting a drop from the crimson downpour just before dancing off into the darkness.

BLOODY EXPERIENCE


Method Studios was called upon to enhance and extend the practical red stained rain effects shot on-set that would only cover 40 feet of the foreground in front of the camera. The two day shoot was a messy experience and included the challenge of obtaining a laser survey of the Disney Ranch backlot for the New York and residential stages in sweltering Californian heat.

2D AND 3D ENHANCEMENTS


When it became apparent that the practical rain in the foreground wasn't creating a strong enough effect, Method came to the rescue with a combination of 2D and CG rain in order to fulfill the director's vision. Jason Schugardt, VFX Supervisor, notes, “Initially, we were only creating rain for the background on the closing shots, but when the practical rain was threatening a long reset time for the main actress if she got any blood on her, it made sense to create that rain in CG to get the most of the limited time with the actress”.

VIRTUAL SURFACES


Back at Method, the meticulously surveyed locations were recreated in 3D to aid tracking. Not only did these models serve as accurate collision points for splatter, drips, and splashes, but they provided the compositing team with perfectly tracked geometry for the application of sky and building matte paintings along with blood enhancements.

MORE BLOOD


The interior shots had their own challenges. There was concern surrounding the amount of blood that was going to be acceptable for the audience, so the production team erred on the side of caution and shot less blood. Once the edit was locked and reviewed however, the Method crew was given the go-ahead to bloody up the aisles and the patrons of the supermarket in order to emphasize the gory concept further.

DETAIL IN THE DROPS


Commenting on the technical demands, Schugardt adds “Creating a rain effects simulation that could achieve the look and density we needed while maintaining a reasonable render time was an important requirement.  We used a separate system to mimic photo-realistic motion blurred highlights for the hero rain closest to camera. Instead of a typical CG static highlight that gets streaked into a straight line, our system creates the photographic appearance of real rain drops that change shape over time, resulting in non-uniform highlights in the motion blur. Our attention to detail helped Nicolai achieve a surreal looking ad which is surprisingly believable”.


Keywords

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