Asylum Helps Draw The Porsche Family Tree
Press Release from Asylum
Asylum, in collaboration with ad agency Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago and @RadicalMedia Director Jeff Zwart, completed a major VFX feat for a new TV spot introducing the Porsche Panamera - the first four-seat sports car from the iconic carmaker. The elaborate, technically challenging commercial was the perfect showcase for Asylum's vast VFX capability.
Family Tree features a stampede of over 50 classic Porsche cars accelerating across an open plain. Ever-shifting camera angles - from overhead panoramas to driver-seat views - capture the onward momentum of the pack as one car - the Panamera - weaves its way through. Interspersed with these ground-level angles is a birds-eye view of the entire collection etching tracks in the landscape to progressively create the branches of the Porsche family tree.
"Porsche is a company synonymous with excellence: they have an incredible history, universal brand recognition and extremely high-quality products. Working with C-K and @RadicalMedia to execute this grand vision for Porsche was a real honor," noted Asylum EP Michael Pardee. "This project was a challenge on many different levels, but our team came together and produced something really special."
Coordinating several vehicles in 57 separate shots presented a myriad of challenges for Asylum. Each scene needed to be camera tracked perfectly to provide exact camera data to create a realistic landscape. The cars had to be matchmoved and roto'd in every shot so that the tracks in the surface and the dust could be procedurally generated from each vehicle. The tracks laid in the surface were crucial to the story, allowing us to see where other cars had already been and, by curving the tracks away from the pack, suggesting the direction the cars moved to form new branches, giving credibility to the end reveal - the formation of the family tree. All previs were done to scale using satellite views of the set at El Toro Airbase to coordinate the action on the tarmac.
A realistic-looking desert plain, with tracks and dust trails from the speeding cars, had to be created in CG for the 50 live-action cars to live in. All the environments, tracks, dust and previs dynamics were done in Houdini for its scalability and procedural capabilities. Houdini's Digital Assets allowed Asylum to modify the look of the terrain, tracks and dust in a single shot, quickly propagate the changes to all shots and handle pre-composites of certain elements prior to handing them off for compositing.
Most of the shots required adding additional cars and some needed cars removed and replaced with CG cars. A number of different techniques were utilized to achieve this task.
Live-action cars were roto'd from other takes, stabilized and retracked into new plates. Hi-res photos of each car were taken and relit before being animated to create certain shots and CG cars were modeled and animated to replace unwanted cars or to populate shots with too few Porsche models. Every car in the commercial, irrespective of being from the original shoot or being added digitally, was modeled and matchmoved so we had digital assets to generate tire tracks and dust. Animation and matchmoving the cars was done using Maya software.
Asylum incorporated sun, flares, shadows, dust and tracks to each scene to balance the lighting irregularities caused by the sunup-to-sundown shooting schedule. The Paint and Roto department had an enormous task of extracting a large number of cars from their original backgrounds. The Paint team needed to remove camera vehicle reflections, tracking markers and runway markings that were either reflected in the cars or removed from their shadows. Matte paintings were created in Photoshop, with camera tracking done in Syntheyes and roto handled in Silhouette v3.4. Final compositing and integration was done on the Flame.