Salt

Agency: Grey
Director: Dave Laden
Production Company: Hungry Man

Freelancing out of HutchCo Technologies, I VFX supervised and finished this campaign for Grey and Hungry Man, working with a creative team headed up by producer Julie Costanzo.  The most complicated spot in the campaign, “Recipe,” required Los Angeles’ beautiful, green Griffith Park to resemble the Rocky Mountains.  The practical effects team did an excellent job covering a section of a park road in fake snow, including much of the surrounding foliage.  To complete the effect, additional work was done in color, where all traces of green were desaturated, and in comp, where I used Nuke’s particle system to create a snow storm that matched the practical snow flakes fired at the vehicle during closeups.

Using a Canon 5D MkII mounted on the process trailer pulling the RV, I captured background plates for all the greenscreen footage shot from inside the RV.  Those greenscreen shots were captured at night, at the end of the shoot day, while the B camera footage was some of the first footage collected that morning.  This required careful measurements and communication with the camera department to make sure lenses and camera angles matched closely enough to make the completed shots feel seamless.  Additionally, I supervised the setup of the green screens around the RV for the interior sequences and worked with the director, Dave Laden, and DP, Stoeps Langensteiner, to come up with solutions for effects-related shots as efficiently as possible for both production and post.

One of the trickier sequences involved the main character, Olde Salty, hurling a knife into a bag of road salt as it nearly slides out the open door in the back of the RV.  On set, with the RV parked, we captured plates of the bag sliding and a stationary bag getting speared by the knife.  From the same camera angle, we then captured plates of the RV driving and various kitchen utensils flying out onto the road. In post, the sliding bag was combined with the knife-impaled bag using spline warp and roto, and the result was comp’d into the moving RV plate, with utensils added via simple roto.  A 2D smoke effects clip was added to simulate car exhaust and snow was added via Nuke particles.

For safety, all interiors were captured with the RV parked and getting jostled by the burlier members of the crew.  Green screens were set up in the front and rear of the vehicle and all keying was accomplished with Nuke’s IBK, which really loved the nearly noiseless HD footage that had been rendered from the raw RED Dragon 6K footage captured on set.  It took far more time to paint out tracking markers than it did to refine the edges and transparent sections of the key.

The campaign – which featured two 75 second spots, two 60 second cut-downs of the those spots, and seven short one-off clips called “Saltyisms” was finished and delivered in a week using Nuke Studio for conforms and compositing and Adobe Premiere for versioning and graphics placement.