Mill NY Swim Upstream for Bacardi
The New York Marathon takes over the city five boroughs once a year, as 30,000 runners race along the famous bridges and streets. To recreate this event for Bacardi new spot, ‘Salmon,’ director Jim Jenkins enlisted The Mill to produce mass crowds of runners and spectators.
With only 250 extras, the creative team needed to populate the city to look like thousands on marathon day, necessitating Mill supervision on the shoot. Mill CG Supervisor Doug Luka photographed extras’ full front and back sides. The Mill Ny 3D department merged these photographs with the crowd-related visual effects software, Massive. From there, Massive randomly assigned wardrobe textures, designs and colors that would personify the CG characters.
The 3D work did not stop with the characters’s wardrobe. Lead Animator Ben Smith and team worked with Massive to arbitrarily pick the skin tone, height, weight and speed of each agent. They even had to create varying levels of energy and excitement for the computer-generated spectators and runners. Once complete, these agents were then inputted into numerous shots to create the realistic feel of mass crowds and marathoners.
A considerable amount of 2D compositing went into the spot to fashion the illusion of a marathon. Security measures hindered the production crew from filming live extras for a scene of athletes running across the Verrazano Bridge. So the crew turned to The Mill visual effects team to merge shots of an empty Verrazano Bridge and frames of runners shot against a green screen. VFX Supervisor Lesley Robson Foster oversaw the green screen sequences, suggesting that they be shot exactly twelve hours after the bridge sequence, so that the sun placement was the same as that of the 6AM bridge shoot. The composited result was a seamless shot that appeared as if it was filmed during the real NY Marathon.
Another challenging shot in which the production team had to film with the post-production already in mind was the scene of the runners being cheered on by a crowd as they run up Fifth Avenue. Because the plan was to shoot runners and spectators in two separate left and right plates and then composite the plates at The Mill, the production team had to be very cautious that the plates were shot to match. Using a repeat head on the crane the production team was able to create the tilt effect they were hoping for and keep the identical angle for The Mill composite work.
The plot of the spot is that two joksters have dressed up like fish and are running against the traffic of the NY Marathon. In the overhead shots they appear as if they are fish swimming upstream. They become so heated and tired that they run into a bar for a Bacardi to regain their strength. It is with The Mill creative assistance that such a humorous moment was recreated.
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