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iXL Throws Knives At Penn & Teller In Pizza Hut Spots

iXL Digital Video Group has finished the head turning visual effects for a set of Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Pizza spots, featuring the comedian/magician duo, Penn and Teller. In the 30-second "Head Turn," Teller turns his head around 360 degrees. During the live-action shoot, Teller mimed turning his head and then iXL rotoscoped Teller's hands in order to remove his actual head and replace it with a backwards one. "It is, indeed an arresting effect," said senior visual effects artist Doug Dimon, "which was accomplished by tracking a separately shot head onto Teller's body, so that as the spot ends, the back of his head and the front of his body face the camera." Because Teller was wearing a suit and tie, iXL artists had to construct a 3D neck to fill the gap that existed between the forward body and the backwards head. "We anticipated this effect, but due to time constraints could not provide the necessary elements from the shoot. We used the extended bi-cubic feature of the flame*, which allows you to bend a flat image into a 3D shape, to make his neck and then used displacement maps to add shadows and lighting as required," said Dimon. "With just two days allotted for post, we had two flames* going three shifts a day." In the 30-second "Knives," Penn tosses over his shoulder at Teller a series of cutlery, hitting his partner in various body parts. For the spot iXL worked with digital knives, which Dimon said were "originally filmed against green screen, then spun digitally with lighting effects and motion blur added. We even added a pinch in the fabric of Teller's suit as the last missile hit square on." The spots were produced for ad agency BBDO advertising, NYC. Straw Dogs' Jesse Dylan directed the commercials. Working on the project for iXL were flame* artists Doug Dimon, Lynn Gelmann and Sheldon Smith, and executive producer Robin Horlick.

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Rick DeMott
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