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Case Study


Juice | Buick Electra – Concept Car

During the unveiling of the new Buick concept car something even more incredible was unveiled: our first-ever fully remote post-production workflow on a mostly CG auto commercial. The SAIC holding company had big dreams about its futuristic electric car. It wanted to take would-be drivers on a 150sec. imaginary ride through a universe of fantasy worlds that finally converge in reality. 

The project kicked off at the height of the Covid19 pandemic when most of China was still in quarantine and Europe was getting ready to enter its first major lockdown. It was clear we had to find a replacement for the traditional workflow that included several SFX supervisors working alongside the production team on set, marking and mapping objects in real-time, and adjusting as the production progresses. Even though we had just set up the first Juice outpost in China, this production called for hundreds of simulations and a massive undertaking by our art department. 

The motion experience alternates between our driver—deep in a dream state—and the concept car that materializes around her before our eyes. Strong energy vectors paint the car in space and continuously remind us that this particular electric vehicle derives its energy from driving on the road. In the Buick, the cabin is exceptionally expansive sporting a carefully modeled driver UI with beautiful information displays including a video feed from an over-the-wheel camera of a girl on a hoverboard. Yeap, nothing out of the ordinary. 

And because it was post-produced remotely, our talented supervisors Olga, Kuba, and Hesu spent four grueling nights pouring over previews and sharing meticulous comments on WeChat. No one could dream it would look and feel as pristine as it did but when you have a dream team on board, in two continents, there are very few challenges that can’t be met. Read below for all the nitty gritty.

Juice | Buick Electra – Concept Car


A studio shoot. One actress in one hell of a sleek wardrobe. Lots of loose hair. An insanely glossy car.

In a series of dream sequences, our main character is fantasizing about her perfect car while floating between different CG worlds. To seamlessly integrate the footage with our CG environments we had to give extra attention to lighting and reflections. It’s a challenging job even when we get to have our VFX Supervisor physically on set, let alone when it’s all happening remotely.

The first thing we did to overcome that challenge was to prepare a 3D layout where we could position the props and account for all the big character movements on set as we set up our cameras and plotted their movement. This helped us anticipate almost all of the problem areas and deliver precise camera and lighting instructions to the production team

Juice | Buick Electra – Concept Car

Green screen proved tricky as well. In the opening space sequence, when the girl is floating inside the energy sphere, we opted for black screen instead of green, which created a more realistic lighting matching the darkness of space. It also ensured we don’t get stuck with extra hours of hard core flying hair roto. Lastly, it saved everyone a great deal of headache dealing with green spills all over the main character’s sleek outfit.

Director Li Zimo loves to scatter light off of different surfaces in his minimalistic designs. In other words, a nightmare scenario when shooting lots of green screen. Generally speaking, green screens and reflective materials don’t mix quite well, which is why we had to push back on the shiny pearl suit for the fencing scene and go for a matte white suite with silver accents.

Shiny Pearl Suit
Matte White Suit

But it didn’t end with her outfit. In fact, the actual Buick had an extremely reflective coating, which meant we had to deal with a ton of green spills. With the exception of the final rooftop scene that featured the real car, we decided that every car scene would use a 3D model which helped us eliminate those pesky spills completely.

The rooftop scene actually started out as a golden hour location shot, somewhere high up above the city – a tight shot to begin with. But with Covid19 restrictions, the production had to move into the studio. Now instead of dealing with unwanted reflections, we had to make up for some missing ones. The solution? Oversized LED screens for projecting sky HDRI’s. Unfortunately, it was near impossible to get these screens at such short notice so instead the production had the sky printed on large vinyl canvases. But this quick fix proved to slow things down in post.


So while this setup worked for the car and its reflection on the floor, we ended up recreating most of the elements in the shot in CG. The glossy floor and water on set simply attracted a ton of unwanted reflections from the white ceiling and the supporting stands.


A word about props. Few people outside the industry know this, but when filming a car commercial, we almost always get exclusive access to a variety of car parts to accomplish some impossible interior shots. In this case, the car was getting constructed in space around our actress but without a car seat and steering wheel to reference how her body, her dress, and her hair interact with the interior, we had to rely on specialty green props cut to scale. We even had to trim the sides of the seat so as not to obstruct the driver’s body when shooting.

Another scene worth mentioning is where the woman’s hand was playing with the celestial rings of one of the planets.

While the rings were created in CG, we wanted the interaction to feel credible and the light play feel realistic. We solved this by shooting a hand against a black backdrop while shining on it with a laser beam. We think it turned out quite nicely.


Minimalistic environments: The darkness of space vs a squeaky clean white environment. Energy vectors birthing the car. A few creative transitions: Energy bursts, Light-to-grid transformation, Supersonic challenge.

The motion board presented by the director had quite a lot of minimalistic references with only one or two prominent elements that lead the scene. This effectively put all eyes on the nuances of each shot.

Buick Electra – Motion Board

The first sixty seconds were all about dark space. For lack of any perceived reference points, we’re typically tempted to summon some of the less-than-realistic space representations we were fed by sci-fi classics where physically impossible things happen like fast moving close stars that are extremely small or slow-moving giant starts that could never be so close. Either way, our perceptions are warped. So in order to solve our visual challenges the decision was to push this dreamworld beyond any physical constraints.

The darkness of space had to eventually give way to layers of cloud nebulae that interact beautifully with an unseen golden light source. And being the dream world that it was, the proportions of those layers were bent at will and we even threw in some liquid surfaces as the car was being formed.

For the energy sphere containing the actress, we ended up combining the structural feel of a glass bubble with a golden hair light then surrounded everything by filaments of light reminiscent of coronal-mass-ejections and a touch of Tesla-ball internal lightning.

We created two kinds of light vectors: one set that felt more organic and tangled more freely with the hand and another set of more engineered vectors that both built the outline of the dashboard and then adhered to it.

Buick Electra – Animated Light Vectors

We created two kinds of light vectors: one set that felt more organic and tangled more freely with the hand and another set of more engineered vectors that both built the outline of the dashboard and then adhered to it.

Lastly, we maintained equal weight for the lines and added particles to create a harmonious sense of style even though these two sets originated from two totally separate FX setups. But the work with the light vectors wasn’t always straight forward.

Initially all the energy lines were supposed to be formed procedurally, but at a later point in the story, those lines had to also take on the function of revealing the car interior. They had to appear at a particular time in the shot and the only way to control that was to animate the contours manually, then generate a separate pass of particles surrounding the lines.

Revealing the surfaces that make up the car interior against the dark space was a subtle dance as we didn’t want it to look like a rough mask.  We solved this by combining the render of the interior with the golden glow, as if emanating from the contours, and the FX revealing mask assisted by a fluid shape.

“Growing” mask
Generated particles surrounding lines
Manually animated contour lines


To achieve smooth flow of the video and make seamless change from one environment to another the director planned for a lot of creative transitions already at the step of the initial motionboard. And creative transitions in post need special treatment. To make stitches between shots invisible we had to make matching of camera movement in the shots as well as animation of certain elements. 

Energy bursts. One of the challenges of a creative transition is the fact that sometimes it is not fully clear which object should help make the transformation. In the energy ball outburst scene the first stitch is covered by the burst itself while keeping the same camera movement, then the imaginary nebula surface transforms into the planet rings as the woman disappears in the form of energy on the horizon like a newborn star.

To help the transition happen more organically we defined a visible plane in the center of the scene. Then we created a special particle simulation for the nebula look, and inside this nebula we placed the  transformation of the plane that helps fit in the planet rings. 

Light-to-grid transformation. The visual story took a turn here and called for a dramatic transition from the more “stripy” structure of the car lights to the more grid-driven structure of a wheel which transforms into a tunnel as it rotates. Here’s how we did it:

  1. From rigid to curving and fluidy. 
  2. From curving to rigid.
  3. To the spokes of a wheel.
  4. To the segmented structure of a tunnel.
  5. A glowing light grid scattering in the tunnel.

The rigid stripes that make up the car lights had to transform into an abstract spiral with curved lines – like in the reference:

At the same time we had to stay within the framework of the wheel grid that came next. In addition to unifying the rotation movement throughout the entire shot we also preserved the glow of the lights that scatter in the tunnel. This scene is also transitioning the story from the dark space, which we can glimpse in the background, into the clean white space. Reference:

Supersonic challenge. The director wanted to use supersonic waves created by the car as a transition effect. Where the sound barrier is broken, one environment was supposed to be broken and give way to another. Sounds pretty simple on paper.

The director’s reference was quite clear (left image). However, in the reference the dark background made the effect stand out. When a jet is going supersonic, there’s a clear contrast between the blue sky and the intense air flow around the jet (right image). In our case, we were working with a near-white environment. We couldn’t rely on classic air flow so we relied on the gray tones in the background and in the car to help the air waves. We compounded the effect by distorting the environment to intensify the final effect.

“Often the decisions made in conjunction between the CG artist and production specialist, benefit client, and agency, while still delivering on the very tight deadline. And as we all know in today’s film and commercial world, times are not extending but constantly shrinking. Whatever solutions we might have to accommodate that – especially if they are in sync with cost-saving, we believe them to be the future of approach to the motion picture.”

Adam Tunikowski, the CEO and co-Founder of Juice.

2021 聚思工作坊1:别克 ELECTRA 概念车的中文广告

这次我们邀请您一同探索别克ELECTRA 概念车的幕后,一窥这支后期制作全靠远程,基本由CG完成的汽车中文广告。






导演Li Zimo在他的极简主义设计中喜欢将光洒落在不同的表面上。但在拍摄大量绿屏时,这简直就是噩梦般的场景。通常,绿屏和反光材料,比如汽车的涂层和人物的服装并不是很协调。


为了让影片流畅自然,且从一个环境到另一个环境的切换丝滑无缝,导演在最初的动作板阶段就计划了很多创造性的过渡。 丝滑转场的挑战之一便是有时并不完全清楚应该利用哪个对象进行转换。


JUICE 团队搭建了一个3D场景,在那里他们可以放置道具,架设摄影机,规划动作,现场模拟所有主要的角色动作。得益于此,我们几乎预测了所有有问题的区域,并向制作团队交付了精准的运镜和照明指示。



我们的团队创造了两种光的载体: 一种感觉更有组织,与手更自由地纠缠在一起; 另一种更工程化,它们勾勒了仪表板的轮廓,然后依附在上面。