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Mixin Pixls Creates City Of Ice For Hyundai

Mixin Pixls has created visual effects for the Hyundai spot "Ice City," which launches the new EF Sonata for Korea. The commercial has a lone car entering an icy metropolis, which begins to melt the snow and bring life to the city. "To create the desired look, two production options were discussed," said Mixin Pixls' executive producer Dan Filice. "One was to shoot a miniature set and composite the necessary images. The second was to create the 'city' via computer animation. The schedule did not include time to create and shoot a miniature, so the second option made the most sense to all involved. Creating the 'city' in CG allowed the production company to first shoot footage of the car, which then provided the means for us to create a CG environment that matched the live-action." Mixin Pixls used Henry and After Effects to create the spot. "The spot consisted of 16 shots, and almost every shot had to be created from scratch," said Mixin Pixls owner Mark Dennison. "The Hyundai was extracted out of its footage by using Elastic Reality to cut articulated mattes, then an environment was created specifically for the car in each scene. Using Alias/Wavefronts Power Animator and Maya, city buildings, roads and other objects were created and then encapsulated in ice. It was important that the audience be able to see what was inside the ice, and this was accomplished by first creating a cityscape template, which was basically a skyline made of 2D building photos. By taking this path, the city could be built to match the perspectives and angles of the practical car footage. After the 2D template was built, a basic 3D model of the city was created to match it. This allowed the building shapes to be covered in 3D ice and at the same time, allowed the 2D building images to be seen through the ice to create the desired illusion. Brian Obee, Assistant Digital Artist, and freelance CG Artist Damon Chernavsky, supplemented [CG Director Harri] Paakkonens efforts. According to Dennison, In the Henry, I spent days enhancing both the CG ice elements and creating springtime environment back-plates into which I then added the car. One of the most difficult tasks in this type of project was 'dropping' the real car into a totally fabricated environment and making it look real. Lighting, contact shadows, perspectives, camera angles and most difficult of all -- moving cameras, all needed to be meticulously matched. If they are not matched, even an inexperienced viewer will reject the experience. This became most severe when adding the car into a CG ice environment. It took a lot of fine-tuning to get the car to look like it belonged in the 'Ice City.'"