Sprint | Monsters of Nascar
We LOVE monsters. Luckily, the fellas at Goodby Silverstein and Partners SF hit us up way back with an epic script for the 2008 Sprint Nascar campaign. It was an evolution of the Sprint light speed theme, but taken to a whole new level. And we’re always down to take it to the next level. Strap on your driving gloves and get in there.
The Pitch and Animation Tests
We wrote up a full on treatment for the whole spot. Whenever a job comes in, we initially try to go for the whole shibbang. It wasn’t bad, but some filmmaker named Michael Mann stepped up to the plate and snatched that shit right from us. No hard feelings Mike, you done good!
At the same time, we brought in some of our veteran animators to help us knock out an animation test. In two days, we captured footage from an IMAX nascar dvd, and busted out some sweet straight ahead traditional animation in Flash, which we layered sprinkle magic over in After Effects. We we’re doing something right, cause it got us the job. For all intensive purposes, the first test was closer to the actual look we were going for. But sometimes you gotta try things. Its always a process.
And so it began. From the start, we were tasked with creating the monsters for the top 12 nascar drivers. For nearly a month, we researched and drew like madmen. We brought our great pal Chuck BB in to lend a hand. Crafting a monster that reflected the personality of the driver, combined with elements from the sponsor was a great challenge. Lots of variables to take into consideration, that meant lots and lots of revisions. Unfortunately, not all of these insane fuckers made it into the final spot.
Vegas is cold as a dead hooker in December. Jk just jk-ing. Three days of some serious choreographed racing took place. These cars are no joke, you can feel the rumbling of the engines in your chest, and when they rev up and accelerate out, your heart wants to explode from the intense noise and vibrations, it was awesome.
Boards & Animatic
The footage was edited and a cut was locked, but all you saw was a bunch of cars driving around. Enter 3LL. We started by pulling screengrabs from each shot, and placed all the monsters based on the script. That got approved really quick, so we brought in the muscle. Our animation team finally started by busting out rough timing for the whole spot. Peep that shit.
To be honest… animating was really fun. This was our biggest crew, with 9 animators in the studio at peak performance. It was awesome. Everyone was really into the project, and they were just hammering away. It’s safe to say that we pushed some of them a little harder than they were used to. At one point during the project, a deathlike plague swept over the entire crew. The artists were suffering from high fever, rattling coughs, nightmares and waking hallucinations. Isn’t that nice?
And now for a bit of technical bologna. Skip all this unless you’re a super geek. We decided to use Flash for all of our key animation. Here’s what that looks like in the raw.
Once we had locked the animation, we exported the clean flash lines into a now defunct program called Mirage for clean up. The lines needed to have the same kind of imperfections, strokes, width, and intensity that real light writing has. The only way to do this was to hand draw them in several layers.. The lines were retraced, then layers of glows and smears were built up to create the glow. All of this was created in black and white, color was added in compositing. Take a look at the raw animation. Its pretty sweet on its own.
The cleanup phase was a monster in itself. It took ridiculous time to retrace and polish stuff to our liking. To get things done right, we called upon all of our friends and pulled together a mini-infantry of additional cleanup artists. They came in with smiles on their faces and let us beat them into the ground. Thanks guys! Catch a glimpse of life inside the 3L Lair.
Behind the scenes, a teaser trailer was being cut to hype up the commercial at trade shows and what not. The Mill hadn’t officially started at this point, so we rose to the challenge. We shifted gears for a quick minute (Actually, a ridiculously long nonstop weekend) and focused on finalizing the opening shot for the :60.
Our good buddy Billy Maloney was working behind the scenes on our 3d R&D. We tracked the footage and matchmoved 3d cars. A 3d interactive lighting pass was developed for the ground, and the cars themselves. All these elements were fused together with the help of our pal Tyler Nathan. After the marathon fuck fest, we looked at our final comp and patted ourselves on the back. It looked pretty bitching. We would have LOVED to comp the entire spot. Check out the final teaser…
…Oh oh oh… and for an extra special treat, peep what all the shit looks like with the footage turned off. OOOOOOH!
Slowly things kept coming together. Shot after shot went through the laborious process of handcrafting every layered element that makes up the light writing glow. Those elements were fused together and simplified a bit before being sent over to get a little bit of the Mill’s magic touch. It was a lot of hard work, and many many late nights. Ridiculously late nights actually. Late nights that resulted in one car being towed, and one accident. Shit sucks. But, weve got a couple of badass spots that we’re really proud of.
Thanks again to the ARMY of people who were involved in making this spot so tight.