Spy Post Creates Mega VFX In New GMC Campaign

Ad agency Carol H. Williams Advertising (CHWA) recently commissioned the VFX and postproduction talent of Spy Post for a new campaign for GMC. The two spots, ‘Luxury Box’ and ‘Stadium’, promote the newly redesigned 2007 Yukon Denali and feature sports commentator James Brown.

“It is always difficult taking a project from concept to execution, especially when you are creating a world that to some degree doesn’t exist”, says Kurt Herr, Creative Director for the ads at Carol H. Williams Advertising. “Working with Spy Post to take our concepts to reality was an incredible collaborative experience.”

In ‘Luxury Box’, James Brown compares the spacious interior of the Yukon Denali to the luxury box seats at a football stadium. Both offer the comforts of leather seating and high-end stereo equipment to enjoy the entire football season. “Those who know — the luxury box to go.” The second spot, ‘Stadium’, conjures a magical feeling as Brown emerges from a doorway aglow with light. As he makes his way around the stadium, the jumbotrons come alive with elegant imagery of the Denali, which interacts with and affects the stadium scenes around it.

For Spy Post, the intensive effects work required previsualizing how the stadium and its jumbotrons would look. Jon Wank, Spy Post Lead Artist, performed on-set supervision during the shoot at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. To get a sense of the look and placement of the CG monitors, Wank mocked-up the monitors on-set on his Mac laptop running Final Cut Pro and Photoshop, and incorporated the images shot by the production team.

“The stadium would ultimately have multi-tiered structure and connect all the way around in an oval shape,” explains Wank. “By attaching my computer to the on-set video monitor, I was able to frame the shots, and work interactively with the director, CHWA creatives and the client to determine the final aesthetics and size of the jumbotrons. We decided on 16:9 aspect ratio for the monitors, which we felt looked and framed better.”

Spy Post artists then set to work on re-engineering the stadium to appear as a football field indistinguishable from any other. This included mapping in a football field with appropriate lighting and perspective, and adding and manipulating seats and architecture, as well as goal posts and railings to look like an actual stadium. Spy Post also used stills of jumbotrons as reference to build the CG monitors to scale in terms of housing, and depth and width.

Wank worked closely and simultaneously with Compositor Darren Orr, Designer/ Compositor Alaina Goetz and Senior Colorist Chris Martin. With all Flame systems in use, the artists found it effective to pass shots back and forth and add their creative input.

“The teamwork was awesome”, remarks Goetz. “Virtually every shot has effects, and Darren, Jon and I were able to seamlessly exchange shots and efficiently tackle a project of this magnitude. Also, there was a great exchange with [Senior Colorist] Chris Martin who really set the look, tone and color palette of the campaign.”

“This kind of workflow between our artists and Chris Martin really showcases our ability to bounce back and forth on projects”, adds Wank. “I went to Chris several times during the process to change the looks of the shots. It was a huge advantage to be able to go straight from the telecine and into my machine. I could then work directly from his material.”

The CG monitors were created in tandem with Animation Director Joe Henke of Hero Motion Pictures. Maya was used for the 3D modeling and lighting, and boujou for tracking the footage into the monitors. Flame was utilized for all compositing, lighting effects and assembling the stadium replication and augmentation.

“This was a very technically-driven spot”, says Goetz. “We had to make the effects look real, sexy and slick, but in such a way that would maintain focus on the car. If we’ve done our job well, then people won?t even recognize that heavy effects work was involved.”

“The collaboration with the advertising agency team was great”, concludes Wank. “The people at CHWA really understood our role in this process especially since much of this was about visualizing what the final product would be like with the effects. It was important for us to be involved from the start so we could dial into each other creatively and ensure that we could deliver within the timeframe. We were trusted to keep their vision intact, and we?re all very pleased with the end result.”

Client: GMC

Spot Titles/Airdates:
Luxury Box: 30/October 2006
Stadium: 30/October 2006

Ad Agency: Carol H. Williams Advertising
Senior VP/Executive Creative Director: Ray Clemons
Creative Director: Kurt Herr
Senior Art Director: Peter Judd (Luxury Box)
Art Director: Maria Montes (Stadium)
Copywriter: Dinar Davis
Producer: Karen Carlson

Production Company: @radical.media
Director/DP: Jeff Zwart
Executive Producer: Frank Scherma
Head of Production: Cathy Dunn
Producer: Susie Gilman
Where Shot: Dodger Stadium/Los Angeles, CA

Editorial Company: Filmcore
Editors: Doug Walker (Stadium) & Connor McDonald (Luxury Box)
Assistant Editor: James Cohen
Executive Producer: Jon Ettinger
Producer: Tracy Coleman

VFX Company: Spy Post
Lead Artist: Jon Wank
Designer/Compositor: Alaina Goetz
Compositor: Darren Orr
Executive Producer: Anastacia Maggioncalda

CG Animation Company: Hero Motion Pictures
Animation Director: Joe Henke

Postproduction Company: Spy Post
Colorist: Chris Martin
Color Assistant: Carey Burens
Online Editor: Jon Wank

Music Company: L4L Music & Messy Music
Composers: Alfredo Isaac @ L4L Music (Stadium) & Doug DeAngeles @ Messy Music (Luxury Box)

Sound Design & Audio Post Company: Polarity Post
Sound Designer/Mixer: Patrick Fitzgerald

On Camera Talent: James Brown, Sportscaster


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