Asylum VFX and director Michael Mann take us on the football field for a tension filled spot, THE PLAN, for Nike with San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, airing in August. Surveying the defensive alignment, LT closes his eyes, mentally planning his attack. The action happens on the field, yet we remain in LT's head at the line of scrimmage. Up field, LT cripples the opponent with speed, agility and tenacity working his way to the goal line. Avoiding the last defender and into the end zone, LT does his signature celebratory move... Snap back to LT waiting at the line of scrimmage for the ball --envisioning the play in his head.
"We came to Asylum with the task of re-creating an authentic looking NFL game," explained W+K producer Matt Hunnicutt. "Joe (Staples), Shannon (McGlothin) and Michael's (Mann) idea was to shoot the spot 'inside-out' and give people an intimate view of LaDainian that they hadn't seen before. We've all become accustomed to watching football in one way, from the fixed broadcast cameras in the stadium and sideline. So shooting the action from a player's perspective on the field outward exposed our biggest weakness...that we'd be filming an empty stadium. Fitting 50,000 fans in to Qualcomm stadium of course wasn't possible and stock footage or shooting crowd plates to replicate would have restricted us to certain actions and angles on the field. The environment had to feel 100% real and we needed full freedom with up to seven cameras running to capture everything LaDainian and the other NFL athletes gave us, regardless of background. That's where Asylum came in.
"We presented Michael with Asylum based on their superb vfx experience and previous work with crowd replacement, specifically stadiums and sporting events. They have a great knowledge of the Massive software...We were able to use that technology as a solution to our problem. Everyone in our stadium background was a three-dimensional CG character so we could control the movement, placement, dress and lighting of each individually.
"It was amazing seeing the first pass of the spot with crowds in it. We had lived with the rough cut for so long with no fans in the stands and an empty sideline in the background that when we saw the early comps from Asylum with a full stadium it was magical. It only got better from there as they fine-tuned every scene. The team at Asylum delivered terrifically on the challenge."
Added Asylum vfx supervisor Rob Moggach: "Our team was able to fully re-create an entire stadium filled with CG people using the Massive software. The only people who were real were the actors on the sideline. Mapping of the stadium took place beforehand and exact dimensions of the seats and capacity were made during the shoot. Extensive light readings were taken, so it wasn't necessary to match the lighting during post. We had a five-person team capturing lens information from as many as seven cameras operating simultaneously. We've worked extensively on past projects replicating crowds so this was right up our alley. The major challenge was the tight timeline, but the constraints were alleviated by our experience with this type of work."
Asylum credits include:
* VFX Supervisor: Robert Moggach* CG Supervisor: Sean Faden* VFX Producer: Mark Kurtz* CG Producer: Jeff Werner* VFX Coordinator: Chris Tuason* EP: Michael Pardee* AP: Ryan Meredith * On-Set Tracking: Marion Spates* Lead, Tracking: Andy Cochrane* Lead, Survey/Modeling: Greg Stuhl* Lead, Massive Pipeline: Dan Smiczek* Lead, Lighting Pipeline: Denis Gauthier* Lead, Inferno: Robert Moggach* Inferno: Chris DeCristo* Roto Supervisor: Elissa Bello
Asylum (www.asylumfx.com) is a premier visual effects and design company, handling high-profile features, commercials, music videos and emerging media content for web and mobile platforms.