“It doesn’t get much bigger than Star Wars and our whole creative team was excited to be a part of this extraordinary project,” Jason Tomlins, Clockwork VFX’s Co-Founder and Managing Director, says. “For us, this campaign proved to be a great example of what we’re capable of creatively and our ability to manage complex assignments on tight schedules.”
Rolling the Galaxy
Created by New York-based ad agency Uproar, which specializes in youth marketing, the spot is a fun combination of over-the-top CG animation and live action kids.
Opening with a shot of a 3D animated toy version of Darth Vader aboard the Death Star brandishing his light saber and declaring “unleash the pods,” the spot quickly cuts to its most complex visual effects sequence – an epic, 3D animated battle sequence featuring toy versions of characters Jabba the Hut, Yoda, Darth Maul, C-3PO and others set on grassy hillside dotted with numerous explosions, fire and smoke.
Following a live-action sequence of a group of pre-teen boys battling with the Fighter Pods, the spot ends with a shot of Vader back on the ship, grabbing a 3D animated Fighter Pod that’s part of the toy’s logo, and hurling it toward the viewer while proclaiming the tagline pun “Roll the galaxy.”
“They wanted us to follow the look of the toys, but with an added sense of reality, so they didn’t look too plastic,” Tomlins notes. “The biggest challenge for us visually proved to be the grass landscape and creating something that was realistic looking, aesthetically pleasing and integrated with the characters, but that could be rendered in a short time frame. Small amounts of mass detail can get very complex.”
Light-Hearted Web Shorts
The other component to the project is the series of five 3D animated webisodes that take a decidedly different approach. Lighthearted in tone, the webisodes portray the Star Wars characters in full-on prankster mode.
For example, in “Jetpack” we see Chewie and C-3PO team up for the ultimate practical joke on the always serious Boba Fett; while “What Goes Around” finds Darth Vader putting on his helmet mask that unbeknownst to him has been filled with shaving cream by Darth Maul. While the tone of the shorts is fun – perfectly geared to pre-teen boys – the visual effects work was complex.“These shorts were quite experimental for the brand and the agency, and because this was a new area they were open to our ideas and let us play a bigger role in composing the visuals, the camera angles, the lighting and the general pacing of the stories," Tomlins adds. "They had great ideas for the storylines, and we had the best time bringing them to life.”
So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive with the agency now considering five additional web shorts.
“The creatives at Uproar showed a lot of trust in bringing us onboard for this challenging project, and we responded by throwing everything we had at it -- from the animatic to the finished work," says Tomlins. "It may sound like the worst cliché, but we really love what we do and we have a great team. More U.S.-based agencies are turning to us to handle character assignments like the Star Wars Fighter Pods campaign, and we are up for the challenge.”