SWAY Studio Brings GM Super Bowl Commercial to Life

Capturing the loyalty and spirit of the General Motors Company, SWAY Studio brings an assembly line robot to life in GM :60 commercial which will debut during Super Bowl XLI on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2007. Collaborating alongside Deutsch LA and well-known director Phil Joanou (Gridiron Gang) of MJZ, SWAY talented animators successfully created a perfect computer generated (CG) replication of a real-life robot that evokes precise movement and realistic emotion.

The commercial follows a small robot that accidentally drops a bolt while working on the GM vehicle assembly line. The line shuts down and the little robot is banished from the company premises. Sad and out of sorts, the robot tries to carry on with life.

To accurately create motion not easily achieved by the real-life robot used during the filming process, SWAY shot basic photography of the robot in various positions creating a model reference to aid in the 3D replication. High Dynamic Range Imagery (HDRI) was also recorded from multiple angles to generate a simulated render of what the CG robot would have looked like had it been filmed in real-life.

‘SWAY strives to bring ideas, especially those that would be impractical to attempt in a live environment, and transform them into real-life with photorealistic 3D,’ said Mark Glaser, owner and creative director of SWAY Studio. ‘The work we did to create a perfect CG replication of a real robot, as well as the precise illusion of a water-filled LA River, validates SWAY photorealistic expertise and ability to carry that over into High Definition (HD) content.’

Phil Joanou was particularly impressed with SWAY’s matching of their CG robot to the robot puppet filmed on set. ‘The real challenge was to seamlessly integrate the CG robot into footage of the actual robot we filmed on set,’ he said. ‘I thought SWAY did a fantastic job of creating a CG robot that was completely believable. The animation, textures and lighting were a perfect match to what we had done in camera.’

To add the effects of moving water into the usually vacant Los Angeles River, SWAY perfected the look by studying the nuances of the real thing and applied those observations to the CG water surface as multiple layers of procedural texture. Demonstrating their work as a powerful 2D resource, SWAY additionally provided HD Flame compositing for scene clean-up, CG integration and extensive beauty work on multiple cars.

‘I was very pleased with the way SWAY created the water elements for the LA River (which was empty),’ Joanou continued. ‘They not only made it look real, but they also added a tremendous amount of mood and texture to these shots, which really made a difference. In the end, the spot could never have been fully realized without the terrific work SWAY created for us on this project.’

SWAY utilized a variety of off-the-shelf software to complete the spot. The most prominently used tools were LightWave and 3ds Max for animation and 3D work, modo for modeling and NUKE for compositing. SWAY also used a brand new Linux based Flame system from Autodesk.

About SWAY Studio
SWAY Studio is one of the top visual effects shops in North America. SWAY aim is to help advertising agencies eliminate traditional views of how their products are seen and enable creative teams to dream big ?Äî if it can be imagined, SWAY can make it happen. There is no limit to what SWAY can accomplish in a photo-real world. The goal is to sway the viewer into believing that everything is real with no thought about effects.

SWAY proprietary software, the SWAY Driving Simulator, has been used to create stunning visual effects and commercial spots for Chevy, Mazda, Pontiac, Hyundai, Hummer and Toyota. This software replicates the performance of any vehicle with complete precision.


Visual Effects:
SWAY Studio

Creative Director: Mark Glaser
Executive Producer: Shira Boardman
Producer: Cassandra Khavari
Coordinator: Daughn Ward
Coordinator: Christine Felman
VFX Supervisor: Richard Wardlow
Flame: Ben Looram
Flame: Rob Trent
Compositor: Maciek Sokalski
Compositor: Chris Bankoff
3D Artist: Rob Glazer
3D Artist: Rob Meyers
3D Artist: Daniel Buck
3D Artist: Graham Fyffe
Rotoscoping: Meg Morris


Deutsch LA
Chief Creative Officer: Eric Hirshberg
Group Creative Director/Art Director: Mike Bryce
Senior Art Director: Bernie O’sDowd
SVP, Director of Broadcast Production: Randy Morton
SVP, Executive Producer: Steffi Binder
Senior Producer: Tricia Hoover

Director: Phil Joanou

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