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Ford Gets Big Picture Spot from !mpossible Pictures

Ad agency JWT/Denver recently commissioned digital studio !mpossible Pictures to create a visually compelling spot for Ford. BIG PICTURE, which airs in the Midwest, takes viewers on an exhilarating topographical adventure and introduces the Ford Big Picture Event at Midwest Ford dealers.

The spot takes the viewer on a journey through a three-dimensional topographic map featuring Ford SUVs. The map begins as a typical flat map then cleverly comes to life, growing into mountains and lakes as the spot progresses. This highly stylized and colorful world serves as a backdrop to promote the Big Picture Event, offering a free Canon digital camera with the purchase or lease of a new Ford SUV.

The major challenge for !mpossible Pictures was to complete the entire spot within a tight turnaround time of seven days, instead of an expected 20 days. "The only way we are able to achieve these types of deadlines is with an airtight process, which all starts with a previs," explained Joel Pilger, !mpossible Pictures president and flame/3D artist. "We then pooled all of our resources, including our staff, freelancers, and our entire facility, to complete the project within the timeframe."

After initial creative meetings with the client, lead 3D artist Chad Jacobson began modeling and rendering a photoreal Canon A510 digital camera in SOFTIMAGE| XSI. Final creative meetings established the need for a previs, which was created on smoke by Discreet artist Brian Eloe. 3D work continued in modeling a topographical map to quickly determine a visual style for the spot that the client liked and !mpossible felt was feasible given the short timeframe.

With no time to shoot, footage of the SUVs was lifted from Ford's stock library. To then seamlessly integrate the SUVs into the CG topographic map, the artists at !mpossible rotoscoped the vehicles in flame and then brought those shots into SOFTIMAGE| XSI, where they were match-moved to the live-action camera. 3D elements were then rendered in passes and imported into flame (with help from artist Brian Kintz) and composited by Joel Pilger. Always keeping the process moving forward, shots were then inserted into the smoke previs to ensure consistency in the overall look and feel of the art director's creative vision. "At all times, having a current state of the project kept the client fully engaged, and maintained awareness of what shots needed the most attention," added Eloe. Final color corrections, editing and finishing were performed in smoke and the project was delivered on time.

"A great compliment we received from the client was that their satisfaction with the final result was equaled by the process," concluded Pilger. "They never felt the project was in jeopardy or being compromised due to the timeframe. What's terrific about collaborating with the JWT creatives is their clear understanding upfront of what it is they're looking for. They approach us as the experts who can solve their problems whether it relates to creative or time, then they give us a lot of latitude to make it happen."

Denver-based digital studio !mpossible Pictures ( creates high-end television commercials for advertising and entertainment clients. Services include direction, live-action production, editorial, CGI/animation, visual effects and compositing.

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Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.