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humble Uses Projection Mapping to Create Immersive TV Ad for Pacific Life

humble and Sorrel Bae use 3D project mapping to create the graceful choreography of a pod of humpback whales in “Projections,” a new spot for Pacific Life.

New York, NY -- A family gets a surprisingly up-close look at the graceful choreography of a pod of humpback whales in “Projections,” a thirty-second ad for the insurance company Pacific Life that was produced by humble and directed by Sorrel Brae.

In the spot a family is seen entering an exhibit at a museum titled “Ocean Visions,” where scenes of whales swimming underwater are being shown on a large screen. As they approach the screen in wonder, a whale suddenly appears to emerge from the screen and extend itself into the gallery space. The audience gazes up as the whale swims over their heads, bathed in the ephemeral light filtering through the water and draped in shadows cast by the whale’s fins in motion. The spot ends with a scene of a humpback as it breaches the surface, which transforms into the familiar Pacific Life logo.

To achieve the effects seen in “Projections” – all of which were accomplished in-camera, without the use of computer-generated imagery – Brae and his crew combined complex 3D projection mapping techniques with extensive post production finishing and live action work.  Working on a large soundstage in Los Angeles, they built what appears to be an actual museum set but in reality is a series of adjoining and overlapping screens.  Working with six high-resolution projectors provided by Background Images, the actors interacted with images that were projected onto these screens. The scenes were then captured in live action on digital cameras shooting at 6K resolution.

“The client came to humble because we offered a unique environment,” Brae explains.  “We’re a true concept to completion studio that offers creative, production, pre-visualization, post, CG and finishing all under one roof. This allowed the Pacific Life marketing team to streamline their process.”

Brae says the projection mapping solution was arrived at in order to satisfy a key objective of Pacific Life, which was to avoid having to render whale images in CG.  “They wanted this immersive feel, as though the whale was really coming out of the screen, but they wanted to do it with live action footage for a more natural feeling,” he says. “What we came up with was kind of a DIY, bespoke solution to a more digital approach. This let the actors respond more authentically to what they were seeing.”

The production required extensive pre-planning and pre-visualization in order to make sure the images being projected matched the camera angles used to shoot the actors on the set, says VFX Lead Arman Matin. Lighting effects and shadows also had to be mapped in correctly so that they’d fall in the proper places within the scenes. The footage of the whales in motion had to be stabilized to eliminate camera movements and processed to ensure that various elements of the underwater cinematography (such as rays of light and floating particles) would match from shot to shot and project properly during the shoot.

“An important part of our ability to deliver this spot successfully was the fact that we handled every aspect of the production and post process,” Brae adds. “It’s unusual on a spot this complicated to be able to do that, but it’s one of our strengths and helps set humble apart from other studios.”

Source: humble

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.