Agency: Goodness Mfg
Director: Francois Vogel
Production Company: Paranoid US

Guillaume Raffi at Nightshift LA brought me in during pre-production of the Toshiba “Unleash Yourself” spot as a VFX Supervisor and finishing artist.  At this stage, director Francois Vogel had designed an assortment of vignettes for the agency, Goodness Mfg, to pull selects from.  I worked with Francois to compile a list of plates we’d need to composite the vignettes in the finish.  They each presented their own challenges, namely how the tablet would transform itself without always having the aid of a hard edit or wipe to conceal the moment of transformation, with a mandate to avoid as much as possible going to expensive 3D solutions.

Resources dictated that we needed to keep all effects in the realm of 2D compositing, so once plates were captured, the majority of the work was relatively simple conceptually but extremely detailed and time-intensive in its execution.

The opening shot of the tablet screen was our first surprise of the finish as the screen content didn’t correspond to the timing and placement of the actor’s hand touching the screen.  I roto’d out the actors arm, clean-plated the tablet and table, and was able to reposition and retime the arm and the reflections on the screen as dictated by the screen content.  That content was captured by the agency and edited by me in the finish.  Camera shake was added to this shot – and all the shots – to help create a more lively, extemporaneous feeling.

VFX artist Sam Winkler was a huge help on three of the vignettes  – the cutting board flip, the tablecloth throw, and the tablet transformation into a kite.  For these, he was able to use plates we shot on set of the actors manipulating the tablet and the objects into which it transforms.  Transitions were composited using combinations of roto, puppetting, warping, optical flow retiming and extensive tracking in both Nuke and SynthEyes.

The simplest transition was the classroom vignette, where a teacher pushes the tablet across a table and it transforms into a model of an erupting volcano.  The footage was captured with a motion control camera rig, with passes for the tablet, volcano and table highlights.  Everything stitched together as expected, with a foreground student serving as a perfect onscreen wipe to hide the transition.  Smoke and sparks were comp’d in from a mixture of stock and vfx plates captured on set.

The vignette featuring a model getting a new necklace to wear was originally conceived as a series of greenscreen plates, but tests on set showed that the aesthetic of a moving camera would be preferable and, with the absence of motion control on this portion of the shoot, everything ended up being captured without greenscreen.  Each take consisted of the fashion designer actor holding an empty frame of the tablet screen beside the model’s face, then holding it over her head and dropping it.  The fashion designer and his entourage would continue to act as if they had just witnessed the tablet transform into a necklace.  Meanwhile, the model would sit completely still as production crew would remove the frame from her neck, fix her hair, then drop a necklace over her head.  She would then react along with the fashion designer.

In post, the first step was to get a clean roto of the actress.  Once we had this, the biggest challenge was in matching the lighting and positioning of the model from the moment the frame dropped to the moment the necklace appeared.  There was a significant difference in the shadows falling across her face and body as well as the position of her torso.  To fix this, I was able to grab a series of patches from hold frames of the first part of the take and track them in using points around her chair as tracking sources.  I used spline warps to move her torso slightly and shift it into position for the necklace drop.  From there, paint and patch work filled in problem areas and a plate captured on set showing the back of the tablet was pinned into position to hide the empty back of the frame as it hovered over the model’s head.

The fishtank transition started with two plates captured on set.  The first was the hero plate of the actor “pulling” the fish tank out of the table, which was accomplished by production using a hydraulic lift to push the tank up through a hole in the table.  The second plate consisted of the fish tank, minus the tablet resting on top.  The second plate was locked off while the first, featuring the actor, used a dolly.

In post, I used tracked and animated 2D patches to fill in the holes in the table and, with Sam’s matchmoving expertise, was able to get a good 3D camera solve in order to patch in the top section of the tank as the actor pulled his hands away.  Using Nuke’s modelbuilder with the tracked camera, I was able to project the image of the tank on a cube matched to the clean plate, pull the UVs off of it and then pipe them into a cube matching the tank in the hero plate.  The resulting hole left in the image by removing the tablet from the top of the tank was patched in with hold frames and paint work.

The more complicated screen comps in the spot were accomplished by using projections from a 3D camera solved in SynthEyes, while the simpler ones were completed with basic 2D tracking, marker removal, corner-pinning and adding reflections over the screen content.