Finishing and Compositing Reel

Spring 2015

Music: “Sea of Heartache” by Johnny Cash

Featuring clips from the following projects:

The Salt Institute “Recipe” • Grey
Toshiba “Unleash Yourself” • Goodness Mfg
Oreo “Wonderfilled” • Director’s Cut • Nieto
Cracker Barrel “Wholesome Fixins” • Havas Worldwide Chicago
Red Robin “Jabroni” • Vitro
Sutter Health “Child Prodigy” • BBDO SF
Phillips 66 “Garage” • Venables, Bell & Partners
EA Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 “Rumble” • Heat
Hyundai “Standoff” • Innocean
Phillips 66 “Dollhouse” • Venables, Bell & Partners
Playstation “Scorpion” • Stolo Productions
Toyota “Alumni” • Saatchi & Saatchi LA

The Salt Institute “Recipe”
I worked closely with director Dave Laden and DoP Stoeps Langersteiner as VFX Supervisor, helping to set up shots for minimal post-production work and ensuring that the work that had to be done in post would go as smoothly as possibly.  This primarily entailed shooting B camera plates of the road for use as background for the shots inside the RV, overseeing greenscreen setup, and acquisition of plates for shots that required a multi-layer approach.  During the finish, comp work involved using Nuke’s particle system to simulate snow for the exterior shots; generating 3D camera solves for the driving plates, adding snow to them with Nuke’s particles and then grading the clips in Nuke to match the graded Alexa footage of the exteriors; keying using mostly Nuke’s Image-Based Keyer; cleanup on the “Old Salty” actor to remove bits of food from his beard; and comping a sequence shooting out the back of the RV that involved Old Salty throwing a knife to stop a bag of road salt from sliding out of the vehicle.

Toshiba “Unleash Yourself”
I worked on this spot as VFX Supervisor, finishing artist and lead compositor.  The three shots featured in the montage were finished using only the plates shown in the reel, with the exception of the classroom shot which also used plates of smoke and sparklers captured on set and acquired through stock footage.  For a detailed description of the compositing work involved in this spot, please take a look at the project breakdown here.

Oreo “Wonderfilled” Director’s Cut
I worked on set as a VFX supervisor, generated placeholder 3D assets, edited the offline version of the project and also served as the lead finishing artist.  In the shots featured here, in addition to keying and despilling the foreground plate, I performed extensive cleanup work to remove seams and shadows, created and tracked a shadow beneath the rolling oreo, composited rendered Maya elements into the footage and performed detailed retiming using Oflow to get the images to correspond precisely to certain lyrics in the song.

For the sequence where the camera sweeps over the edge of the table, revealing an eight-armed pinwheel with oreos stepping towards a CG mouth, I did not have a clean plate of the pinwheel to work with.  Using a combination of the IBK Color node in Nuke, tracked solids, 3D projection and lots of paint and roto work, I was able to clean up all of the oreos so that they and their shadows could be stepped onto screen one at a time.  In addition, I cleaned up the neon sign on the carpet and the dolly tracks on the floor to go along with integrating the Mental Ray render of the CG mouth in the middle of the pinwheel.

For more information about my work on this spot, please look at the complete breakdown here.

Cracker Barrel “Wholesome Fixins”
For all Cracker Barrel clips featured in the reel, I worked as on set VFX Supervisor and lead finishing artist, supervising a small team of Nuke and After Effects artists who helped complete the four spot campaign (two 30s, two 15s). Nuke and After Effects were used in these clips to generate the animated flipbook effect – the look applied to the stock footage clip was created and rendered in AE and then Nuke was used to project those images onto cards that were placed in 3D to match the practical prop. The cards were then rendered through a camera that was solved using NukeX’s camera tracker.

All of the individual boxes were shot as separate motion control passes which were aligned using Nuke’s camera solver in conjunction with the modelbuilder. Once the plates were tracked, the modelbuilder was used to place cards in 3D space at the open end of each box. I was then able to output the UV image of a given foreground plate into the UVs of the background plate and thereby lock the various plates to each other. This method was also used to create jitter-free roto masks throughout the spot. Extensive compositing was completed throughout the spot for matching color between plates, creating shadows, rig removal and compositing of keyed elements into the main plate. The bird and “CrackerBarrel.com” sign in the bottom right corner of the final frame were shot against blue screen as a separate element and tracked in using a combination of 3D camera solve and 2D tracking.

Red Robin “Jabroni”
The agency wanted to replace the logo on the ice cream carton as well as clean up the Anheuser Busch logos on all of the kegs in the freezer. I tracked the camera in the shot using NukeX and did a camera solve just for the ice cream carton, using the existing logo as a tracking source. From there I used NukeX’s modelbuilder to quickly place cylinders throughout the scene onto which I could easily project cleanup work and logos.

Sutter Health “Child Prodigy”
This campaign featured four spots that required generally minor cleanup work. The shot featured here combined a hero performance plate with the actors and a plate of a man on the crew shooting the diaper into the waste basket. Roto and paint tools were used in Nuke to clean the diaper and it’s shadow from the actors’ plate and replace it with the diaper going into the basket.

Phillips 66 “Garage” and “Dollhouse”
I finished a campaign for Phillips 66, working with a creative team from Venables, Bell and Partners headed by producer Ben Latimer.  The two shots featured in my reel – the logo placement on the shower curtain and the logo placement on the garage door with sky replacement – took advantage of Nuke’s improved tracking toolset.  The shower curtain comp was done using a 3D camera solve out of nuke, with warping of the curtain done by distorting the 3D card on which the logo element was placed.  The garage comp used Nuke 9’s vastly improved planar tracker, with the sky replacement being a combination of roto, luma keying and channel math.

EA Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 “The Rumble”
This online ad featured lots of rigged actors fighting each other and flying around. The turnaround time on the spot was extremely short (less than two days to conform, comp and deliver multiple versions), and I supervised a small team of Nuke artists for rig removal work. In addition, there was cleanup work done on the set, screen comps, some minor re-editing of the spot in the finish, and beauty work done on the game footage.

Hyundai “Standoff”
This shot was completed at Arcade Edit for a Hyundai campaign. For this shot featuring a couple driving, the edit called for that shot to be a split screen. However, the plate of the woman had an incredible amount of dust on the windshield that needed to be removed. I used Nuke to denoise the windshield, which eliminated the smaller dust particles, and used a combination of paint and tracked hold frames to eliminate the larger ones. Some color work was then completed to help match the light on the actors, which had been significantly different in the source footage.

Playstation “Scorpion”
This spec spot was intended to feature a predatory superhero character who turned the victim’s bedsheets into a scorpion-like creature that impaled him. The footage on set consisted of an animatronic device that was wrapped up in the bedsheets and tipped with green gaff tape which the director originally hoped to simply grade in post to create a menacing look. When that solution didn’t work as intended, I was brought in to design and composite a tail for the bed sheet scorpion. The burning fabric and red-hot scorpion tail were designed, tracked and comp’d in Nuke with a combination of procedural noise, roto and grading. The corpse shot with the scalded hole in the victim’s chest was a combination of 2D splatter images graded to look like burns, a practical smoke element, and an animated noise pass to create the appearance of glowing embers around the wound.

Toyota “Alumni”
Working out of Serious Electronics – the online/finishing department of HutchCo Technologies – I finished this campaign for Toyota, working a creative team out of Saatchi & Saatchi LA headed up by Richard Bendetti.  The work involved was primarily set cleanup and beauty work on the cars and actors.  However, for the shots featured, heavier lifting was involved.   The shot removing the wrinkles and jiggles from the belly of the actor used my favorite Nuke trick.  This involves creating a UV map for the scene, cutting out sections of it, then attaching those sections to trackers and transform nodes before plugging the resulting map into an STMap node, effectively allowing precise, trackable, procedural puppeting of a 2D plate.  Once I had a cleaned frame of the actor’s belly, this STMap trick enabled me to realistically track it onto him while maintaining some life in the shirt.  For the final shot in the reel, I had to remove the actor from the back seat of the car for a shorter version of the spot.  This involved extensive tracking and patch work, along with using noise layers to help replace any reflections lost from the windshield.