Wrigley’s | Evolution
You’re wrong if you think we evolved from monkeys. As it turns out, we’re ancient ancestors of gum chewing amoebas. Psyche! This is the second spot in a campaign for Wrigley’s that we designed, directed and vfx’d with our friends at DDB Chicago. Mega thanks to everyone at Merritt Productions for helping us make such a rad set.
The Evolution of Evolution
So wait a minute… How long does it last? About as long as it takes an amoeba to evolve into a skateboarder! Holy shit, how are we gonna show that?!
We didn’t want to go with straight up photorealism. Boring. After a little brainstorming we decided that we wanted to give everything a slight stylization in their proportions and form, but keep a photoreal texture quality. Now, to actually accomplish that, we knew all of the characters would be CG. Duh.
Lay of the Land, Miniature Style
But what about those backgrounds…After a bit of back and forth and tossing out a bunch of crappy ideas, it hit us. Terrariums! We hit the research button and came across this awesome competitive community of terrarium designers. The materials used have a very real texture, but the way the elements are arranged, it looks like some crazy stylized world. This was it.
The world was designed as one continuous environment that subtly changed as we moved from left to right. All of those transitions needed to be built into the set. The biggest challenge we faced was timing the thing out, and then dealing with miniature scaling. A rough set was built to rough scale in Maya and we timed out our CG camera to it. Take a look at our preliminary designs.
These specs were sent over to the fantastic team at John Merritt Productions, an awesome miniatures house, who got to work right away. This was our first experience working with miniatures, it was awesome to say the least. On our WIP visits to Merrit’s studio, all these people we’re hacking away and painting and sculpting all these intricate things. And they were all having fun! You could see it. We stepped to the side and under our breath mumbled to ourselves… “man, if we had to create this environment in Maya, what a fucking shitstorm.” It just would have been a nerve racking pain in the ass. Besides, miniature things are way cooler. We were stoked that the artists at the studio were loving the work.
The actual shoot was pretty badass. Miniatures + Motion Control = new amazing shit for us. It was quite an experience. We spent a good part of the day lighting several different passes on the miniature. Once that was done, it was a matter of finessing the moco move, and then just sitting by while it ran all of its passes. Our DP Tim Angulo just killed it. He got in there and got shit done quick and hassle free. Here’s what a prelight looks like.
At one point, we were asking the Moco technician to pan up… he stops, and looked at us like “fucking newbs”, then proceeded to explain that the proper terminology for what we were asking was a tilt. Then other camera guys, and our DP got in there, and we went over proper lingo for every type of camera move imaginable. So to you up and comers, pay attention in that bullshit film school 101 class, or else you’ll look like a twat in front of the veteran crew. Good times. And now the rest of the production photos!
Oh and lets not forget about our only non CG character, the skater! Have you ever heard of a thing called casting? Spending an afternoon at a Venice mini-skatepark, we saw a lot of freakin’ rad skaters give it their all.
Meet Mr. Danny Rodriguez, all around skate boarding champion and cool guy. It was quite an honor working with such a talented dude. When it came time to shoot, he just came out and raged on our setup. Words really can’t describe… when we saw the bootleg launch ramp made of a couple metal boards covered in cardboard stacked on a scissor lift… we couldn’t believe he was willing to even get near it. Kid threw down and was catching some serious air. And boy, can he really chew gum!
Meanwhile, back in the lair, our artists were hard at work getting designs approved, modeled, textured, and furred. MEGA props to Bill Dorais for forcing us to use Maya fur. It most likely would have been a travesty if we did it the way we originally intended. Everything in computer land was pretty straightforward. We used the life saving Setup Machine for rigging our CG buddies, Mental Ray for image based lighting… all that nerdy stuff. Heres a bunch of misc junk for you to geek out on.
Woah… HDRI chrome ball light maps!
Close ups of some of the sweet Merritt Productions scenery!
Watch the spot evolve from shitty previz animatic, through several iterations to get close to final!
And some other behind the scenes working goodness!
Basically every single step of this commercial was a complete unknown for us. We hadn’t worked with miniatures or motion control, hadn’t done photoreal characters or fur, in fact it had been years since we’d even done 3d characters at all. And on top of that, it was the biggest in house crew we’ve had to manage at one time. Somehow, it all came together with absolutely no trouble.
Our crew was fucking fantastic; they handled business like it wasn’t even a thing. You better believe there was plenty of time to rage some epic 7 on 7 Call of Duty 4 battles. Shit was real.