To support the launch of Sundance Channel’s newest series, Be Good Johnny Weir, the network designed a promo concept and secured Absolute Post and @radical.media’s Matthew Rolston to create the dazzling spot. The series follows the day-to-day exploits of U.S. National Champion skater Johnny Weir. The promo airs nationally on the Sundance Channel.
The promo begins with Johnny emerging from a Faberge egg and launching into his performance within the halls of Versailles as snow falls. Weir continues his signature saucy act as the scene shifts to snowbound forests with frozen streams, then to lakes, and finally into an ever-brightening luminescent “Sun King” room where the phenomenon skates to the camera and blows his adoring public a cheeky kiss.
Weir – decked out in his customary assortment of ostentatious costumes, ranging from Lycra diamond-studded tights and stilettos to fur capes to Weir-designed classic onesies – stands out against the dazzling Absolute-produced backdrops with the fierce energy and attitude that defines him on the ice. The mix of glamour and lightheartedness perfectly expresses Rolston’s vision of a tongue-in-cheek personification of Weir.
Rolston shot Weir on green screen, working closely with Absolute’s Head of CG Minh Nguyen-BA and the Blind Pig design team to ensure that his movements would later sync with the backgrounds. Absolute created these separate environments as completely CG spaces and digital mattes, which presented lead Flame artist Josh Laurence and his team with a number of challenges. The opening hall of chandeliers was a huge task, with layers of detail and texture required to realize the vision spelled out in Rolston’s intricate references.
Absolute NY’s Ross Goldstein coordinated a team that created the icy lake digital matte, in collaboration with Blind Pig, to achieve Rolston’s vision of a magical, icicle-glittering space showcasing Weir and his outrageous costumes. Goldstein then graded the shots to ensure that Johnny’s skin tones looked graphic and met the director’s always high standards.
Absolute CD Dirk Greene created the ever-evolving Sun King room, where Weir skates as the flaming light source intensifies and rays of light blaze from both the sun motif and the skater’s golden suit. Greene enhanced the light source from a Digital Matte painting (again authored by Goldstein) and augmented the light rays from Weir to give the scene its full explosive effect.
Goldstein augmented the end title design (created by Sundance and their in-house team) using After Effects, animating the type and adding subtle pops of confetti and light to bring Rolston’s brief to life and end the piece in a stylized and very Weir way.
Founded in 2004 by David Smith, one of world’s leading Flame artists, Absolute is a high-end VFX studio working within the commercial, emerging media, music video, and film communities. With offices in New York and London, Absolute over the years has collected numerous industry accolades including two BTAA awards, a D&AD pencil, a Cannes Lion, an APA Collection Diamond, three Andy wins and an MTV video statue. The New York office opened in 2007, helmed by CD Dirk Greene, to further facilitate Absolute’s international client roster with a growing Flame and CG service.
Client: Sundance Channel
Spots Title: Be Good Johnny Weir
Air Date: January 2010
Agency: Sundance Channel
Agency Producer(s): Shari Weisenberg, JC Cancedda, Mark Williams
Prod Company: @radical.media
Director: Matthew Rolston
EP: Jim Bouvet
Editorial: Cut & Run NYC
Editor: Tina Mintus
Assistant Editor: Adam Bazadona
Producer: Ashley Carrier
Post/Effects: Absolute NY
EP: Sally Heath
Lead Flame Artist: Josh Laurence
Flame Ops: Dirk Greene, Krispy Cornwell, Nathan Kane, Daniel Morris
Lead CG Artist: Minh Nguyen-BA
CG Ops: Andrew Harper, Sheri Wong, Keith Kamholz
Combustion: Warren Paleos, Krissy Nordella,
Digital Mattes: Ross Goldstein, Jasper Kidd, Ric Comline, Christian Kugler