For its latest feat of magic, RIOT undertook a task that many would consider impossible: getting kids to eat their vegetables. The studio supplied file-based color correction and visual effects services for two Hidden Valley spots which conjure an idealized world where youngsters gobble up broccoli and cauliflower as if they were ice cream.
The project is the latest example of RIOT integrated approach to digital production. In this instance, the studio employed a data-centric workflow that allowed Colorist Siggy Ferstl to collaborate seamlessly with the visual effects team. The approach helped to speed production, hold costs in check, and achieve creative results that could not have been attained through conventional post production workflow.
The two spots, conceived by DDB San Francisco, use humor to encourage kids to dip their veggies in Hidden Valley ranch dressing. One spot shows an amusement park where, instead of popcorn, cart vendors serve up bags heaping with cauliflower florets and kids engage, not in pie eating contests, but in downing plates of salad. The other spot shows kids flocking to a man serving ‘lettuce cones’ and other goodies from the side of a vegetable truck.
RIOT role was to present the commercials’s environments as an Eden-like paradise. It did so by giving colors a super-real intensity and by creating a series of dimensional matte paintings that make both the amusement park and the neighborhood appear to be part of a ‘hidden valley’ of rolling hills, lush foliage and quaint homes.
Ferstl performed the color work on a Resolve, Da Vinci digital mastering suite, which allowed him to manipulate the imagery in the form of 2K data. Because Resolve can accommodate edit decision lists, he was also able to color the spots in cut order. Additionally, the coloring system allowed him to affect colors individually, something that was key to his ability to achieve the spot brilliantly colorful look.
‘We went for deep, rich colors without saturation,’ Ferstl explained. ‘I accomplished that by isolating and deepening colors: blues, greens, reds and yellows.’ Ferstl also isolated details within the frame for specific manipulation?‚àö√ë‚àö√Üincluding the products – which appear in the final shot in both spots, making them stand out while blending naturally into the overall color scheme.
As Ferstl performed his work, colored shots were passed onto the visual effects team. The imagery was maintained at 2K resolution with 10-bit color. That allowed artists to add visual effects elements and further enhance colors and other aspects of the imagery without diminishing its quality. The visual effects artists were also able to return shots to First Resolve suite for further color enhancement at their original resolution and bit depth, again preserving maximum image quality.
‘The larger color space gave our artists maximum range to work in,’ observed RIOT Creative Director Andy Mac. ‘It provided the ideal base layer for the matte paintings.’
The matte paintings were produced in 2 dimensions and consisted of many layers of individual elements?‚àö√ë‚àö√Ütree, hillside, cloud and sky. Compositors were able to tie the layered elements to the camera movement employed in the live action element to create the illusion of full 3D. Although the scenery seems impossibly beautiful, this trick creates a strong sense of realism and makes it very difficult to distinguish which elements are ‘visual effects.’
‘It so understated that it hard to tell how much work went into it,’ recalled Mac. ‘We put a lot of thought into how we constructed our team and our workflow and that allowed us to achieve a unique look. It also proved to be very efficient and cost effective, and it provided the client with a lot of flexibility.’