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Method Brings Down the House for Kia

Method completes VFX for another installment of the hugely successful Kia Soul campaign.

Method Studios completed work on a follow up to last year’s award-winning Kia “Share Some Soul” campaign. Working again in collaboration with advertising agency David & Goliath, Method enlisted its team of CG character specialists to re-introduce the iconic Kia Hamsters to the advertising world.

This year’s spot finds the hamsters winning over the audience of a Victorian-era opera house with their trademark style and attitude. “Bringing Down the House” began production in Prague, Czech Republic in June of 2012 under the guidance of production company MJZ and director Carl Rinsch. Method VFX Supervisor Andy Boyd, VFX Producer Mike Wigart and Tracking/Integration Supervisor Fabio Zapata were on hand to oversee the busy five-day shoot, which consisted of five professional dancers in hamster suits, a stunt hamster, and 200+ fully costumed extras. On-set VFX supervision required extensive data wrangling, a B-unit set up for crowd duplication, and a lot of creative decision making with Rinsch and director of photography John Mathieson.

While production was underway in Prague, Method LA’s CG team built upon the hamster setup created for “Share Some Soul” and advanced it using the latest state-of-the-art fur rendering techniques. “The lighting in this spot is so much more complex and specific,” Boyd says. “We had to advance our fur rendering techniques to new levels.”

Lighting Lead Brian Burke adds, “We added a physically-based translucency model which gave the fur greater volumetric qualities. We also wanted to make eyes more expressive, so instead of rendering black spheres we modeled lenses and irises for each character. It brought them more life.”

Method Head of 2D Patrick Ferguson led a team of Nuke artists to integrate the CG hamster renders into the practical dancer’s bodies, creating a seamless blend of CG and costuming. “We took the character integration a step further this year by modeling clothing geometry that was match moved to the dancers so that light play and shadows felt more physical,” says Ferguson. “We also created a special gradient pass that enabled us to pick any area of fine hair on the neck and layer it on top of the collars. This approach went a long way in terms of adding realism to these characters.”

Source: Method Studios

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