Synthesis Get Inside a Spalding Basketball

What does the inside of Spalding new NEVER FLAT basketball look like? As envisioned by Philadelphia design/visual effects house Synthesis it is a lush, complex, 3D animated world that realistically and compellingly depicts the ?‚àö√ë‚àö‚â§Pressure Retention Technologies’s that allows these unique basketballs to retain their bounce ten times longer then ordinary basketballs. The new :30 spot, which stars Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce, was created by agency Winstanley Associates, Lenox, MA and directed by Christian Hoagland of Redtree Productions, Boston, MA.

‘It was up to us to represent how these larger molecules keep the smaller ones inside the ball,’ says Synthesis Creative Director Aaron Beaucher. ‘They gave us some information about the technology and let us go. We came up with this 3D animated gelatinous wall of spherical molecules. The look required literally millions of 3D particles and huge renders. Particle animation is always a challenge to control, and that interior wall alone took a long time to complete.’

Shot in HD, the spot begins with a stormy sky flashing ominously over a barren landscape littered with partially deflated basketballs. A hooded figure steps into the grim scene, identified only by the single word stenciled across the back of his sweatshirt. As Pierce looks up, a fully inflated basketball drops from the tumultuous sky. As the ball strikes the pavement, the camera travels inside the orange ball, revealing an impenetrable wall of spherical ‘Nitroflate’ molecules.

Previz Proves Beneficial
‘This spot provided us with an interesting challenge,’ says Beaucher. ‘We attended the live-action bluescreen shoot in Boston and worked closely with both Christian and the creative team to ensure that everything would go smoothly during post. By taking some still photographs of the set, we were able to create some preliminary composites and give them a visual representation of what the spot would eventually look like. At the same time, I was there to advise them on how things could be shot to make the effects process as efficient as possible.’

In addition Beaucher and the Synthesis team did extensive 3D previsualization. ‘Due to the complexity of the job and the tight schedule it was essential that everyone involved be on the same page about the final look. Because we had spent a lot of time upfront developing the look, the post went amazingly smooth.’

Philly-based design studio Synthesis created the visual effects and animation seen in the new Spalding spot for NEVER FLAT basketballs.

By far the most challenging sequence for the Synthesis team involved the complex environment inside the ball. Using Spalding detailed description of how the NEVER FLAT technology works, Beaucher and the Synthesis team used Autodesk Maya and Eyeon Software Digital Fusion to envision the ball interior as a molecular fortress.

‘The client was very clear that the journey inside the ball and back not suggest the escape of any air,’ says Beaucher. ‘That task was more difficult than it might sound. We had to transition in and out of the ball in about ten seconds while conveying how the technology works, but it cannot look like air is coming out as the camera does. In the end, we accomplished the look with a dramatic pull back where the camera appears to simply glide back through the other side of the ball.’

About Synthesis:
Led by Creative Director Aaron Beaucher, Synthesis ( comprise a uniquely talented team with a wealth of agency, broadcast design and postproduction experience, Synthesis enables the fusion of ideas with technique, creative concept with technical capacity. The company has created effective and compelling work for such clients as Showtime, FX, Discovery, Bravo! and Rush HD, Spalding, Motorola, Xerox and the 2004 Addy Awards.

– Autodesk Maya, Flame, Smoke
– Eyeon Software Digital Fusion
– Avid

Creative Credits:
Client: Spalding
Project: ‘Never-Flat’ (:30)

Agency: Winstanley Associates, Lenox, MA
VP Creative Services : Ralph Frisina

Production Company: Redtree Productions, Boston, MA.
Director: Christian Hoagland
Executive Producer: RJ Casey
Producer: Eric D’Amario
Assistant Director: Jeff Trenner
Production Supervisor: Steve Oare

Design/Visual Effects: Synthesis, Philadelphia, PA
Creative Director: Aaron Beaucher
Editor: David Oberdoester
3D Animation: Mark Thompson

Music House: Dreamscape Music, Philadelphia, PA
Sound Design: Len Miller

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