If you’re a monster, you announce your presence with authority. Such is the story behind “Monsters,” a new spot directed by Dante Ariola of MJZ for high-end job search engine The Ladders. The spot was directed by MJZ’s Dante Ariola in collaboration with Method Studios, ad agency Fallon Minneapolis and Company 3. Seamlessly blending old-school movie monsters with the latest visual effects and computer generated animation, the spot takes a humorous look at what it takes to get a big job done.
“The Ladders is a job search service for people making over 100K per year,” explains Alex Frisch, Method’s VFX Supervisor and Flame Artist on the project. “They are exclusively dedicated to finding people with the ‘monster-size’ talents that will ensure big jobs are completed the right way. The spot was very challenging, but also played to the strengths of our team, particularly when it comes to the seamless integration of CG characters and live action. It was also a lot of fun working with Guilala.”
Opening with an imposing, reptile-like creature lumbering towards an oncoming truck, the spot looks like a typical 1960’s era monster movie. As the creature emits what should be an earth-shaking roar, however, we quickly discover things are not quite what they seem. In fact, this monster is so small that the truck passes over his head. As the mini-monster slouches dejectedly, many more like him are revealed, all of them vainly attempting to frighten the townsfolk.
One heaves pebbles at a store window, prompting only a bemused smirk from the woman in the window. Another spits a tiny fireball into a businessman’s newspaper, only to be unceremoniously shooed away. No less than five of the creatures team up for the attempted destruction of a compact car, only to be overwhelmed by its hubcaps. Just when all seems lost, the tiny creatures look up to see a suitably immense version of themselves laying appropriate waste to the city. A wry voiceover then reminds viewers that “some people are ready for the big jobs… and some aren’t.”
To augment the authenticity of the classic movie monster motif, “Monsters” features multiple versions of Guilala, the destructive star of the classic 1967 Japanese monster movie The X from Outer Space.
“The agency selected Guilala from a range of potential creatures,” says Andy Boyd, Lead CG Artist and VFX Supervisor on the project. “What made this commercial really funny and special from our perspective was that we did a studio shoot of an actor in the Guilala suit and took high resolution photographs of the suit itself, all of which turned out to be a fantastic resource for our animations. All the subsequent animated characters in the spot were rotoscoped from the actual rubber suit, so we were able to imbue these very complex contemporary animations with a campy 1960’s feel. We even created a rubber system to make the fingers and toes wobble appropriately.”
On “Monsters,” Method continues to display their skill integrating CG animation with live action. According to Frisch, achieving that seamless blend required that the Method team combine its full arsenal of talents with a meticulous attention to detail.
“We pulled out our entire bag of tricks for this one,” he says. “From miniatures and puppets to blue screen compositing and 3D animation, this spot used it all. Andy and I also attended the three day shoot in Cape Town, South Africa, and Dante got a fantastic performance from the actor in the rubber suit which helped a great deal. We did the entire job at 2K resolution, and went back and forth with Company 3 to achieve a truly pristine color correct and composite. In the end, we were able to create 3D monsters that are absolutely identical to the practical one.”
“What is most impressive for me was the combination of skill sets on this spot,” says Boyd. “If you look at the final scene with the explosions and the huge monster, for instance, there is a studio shot monster in the background, multiple 3D monsters in the foreground, a CG car, and a bunch of other elements in one seamless scene.”
Director: Dante Ariola
EP: Jeff Scruton
Producer: Natalie Hill
DP: Philipe Le Sourd
Agency: Fallon Minneapolis
Agency EP: Vic Palumbo
Agency Producer: Amanda Revere
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Kirk Baxter
Producer: Mike Goble
VFX Supervisor and Flame Artist: Alex Frisch
VFX Supervisor and Lead CG: Andy Boyd
Flame: Katrina Salicrup, Noah Caddis, Andy Davis
CG: Matt Hackett, Floyd Raymer, Jonathan Vaughn, Jack Zaloga, Alex Lee, Todd Herman
Assist/Roto: Andy Mower, Ryan Raith, Craig Hilditch, Amanda Burton, Edgar Diaz, Jay Robinson, Pam Gonzales
EP/Director of Production: Helen Hughes
PM: Moylene Boyd
Facility: Company 3
Colorist: Stefan Sonnenfeld