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DirecTV ‘Troll’

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The creature animation specialists at Method were extremely keen to get their hands on this latest ad for DirecTV which promotes their new service which allows you to watch recorded programs across multiple devices even when you are away from home.

The production of ‘Troll’ employed an extensive list of visual effects techniques. Aside from the computer generated creature himself, the artists were tasked with matte painted backdrops, fluid and cloth simulations, set extensions, atmospheric FX elements such as dust and mist, CG animals and of course composting everything together.


The biggest challenge involved creating and animating the giant Troll. To begin with, a highly detailed 3D model was sculpted based on signed off concept art. Particular attention was paid to rigging complex facial muscles which ensured that the Troll’s emotions were conveyed by his expressions - a requirement essential to the storytelling. While his face was animated by hand, the rest of his body was animated using finely tuned motion capture data.

Firstly his walk cycle was established during a motion capture session using an actor wearing a weighted body suit. The backgrounds were shot at four different locations -  Disney's Golden Oak Ranch; Universal's European Village; Universal's Stage 20 and helicopter plates shot with a Long Line camera rig over Tejon ranch. This edited footage was then used as a guide for the actor performing moves during a second motion capture session.  This mocap data was then taken by the animators at Method who crafted the final movements of the Troll.


Another challenge to the VFX crew was depicting the magical countryside environments. The village scenes were captured at night, while the expansive countryside had to be shot with a traditional day-for-night approach, requiring the team to adapt daylight plates to match the nighttime look. Layers of CG mist, a moon and even 3D ducks and a cow enhance the scenes.

One shot of particular interest is the opener which is in fact entirely computer generated. Lighting of the water, the Troll and his reflections throughout the spot was of the upmost importance and helped give the commercial its fairytale feel.

Overall, a team of 50+ CG artists, compositors, and matte painters utilized a complex tool set from programs such as Maya, zBrush, Mari, and Houdini to execute this large scale VFX project. Company 3 provided the final grade.


Method's DirecTV 'Troll' VFX team were honored at the AICP Awards thanks to the spot being selected as a winner in the Animation category.


  • Award Winner
  • Characters
  • Environments
  • FX
  • Compositing
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