HOW TO CREATE A LAVA MONSTER AND A SUPER-HERO FIGHT?
“With time shrinking day by day, we tried to solve all the issues working closely with the director and in spite of many differences of opinions crafted a good-looking film.”Adam Tunikowski, the CEO and co-Founder of Juice.
Juice had worked with the Spanish director Daniel Benmayor before, and this went so well that he invited Juice to work with him on the Chinese Cnice commercial.
From the beginning，Juice team was very excited as they knew this project will require a lot of design–concepting work. Juice also expected Cnice video to be quite demanding at the same time – created in a style which nods towards Marvel, Iron-Man, and good-versus-evil, the good is Chinese actor Elvis Hand as our superhero. The personification of the evil is a completely CG ‘lava-monster’, made of fire and looking very menacing. A large number of simulations, hero shots, and transitions as well as an impressive number of look-devs were required.
Almost everything you see on the screen in the final video was eventually created in CG: the city, the buildings, the cars, the apartment, the lab, the furniture, the equipment, the superhero’s several types of weapons symbolizing various forms of protection, and even the cover of the comic book he reads, which becomes the engine of the whole narrative. The fiery CG ‘lava-monster’ was to be the key element of the comic book world in which the action takes place.
The ‘lava-monster’ had to be clearly made from fumes and fire, however, the direction was not very specific. After introducing many concepts that did not turn to be entirely satisfying Juice reached out to their freelance community of talented artists. That was a good move. “In the end, we prepared over 20 look-devs for the monster itself and got much closer to the director’s vision”.
As we knew that the superhero would be involved in many complicated scenes, our recommendation was to create a real costume printed in 3D for the star Elvis Han and make him wear it on the set. That would make it easier to insert the actor into the CG world with no need for the heavy postproduction of himself – essential to follow the proper lighting. The director on the other hand wanted the actor to wear a simple motion capture suit and build the costume in CG.
The scale of movements, lighting, and angles, required for his coverage during the spot, forced us to come up to a solution in between: the costume got printed but definitely not in the final quality and therefore not allowing for it to last long while shooting and eventually replaced in CG. Nonetheless, the pieces that were worn by the actor in the shoot, allowed us for a pretty good reference of the light, shadow, and reflection.
The brief for the environment spokes of the need to create something that looks realistic. However, after a few proposals and suggestions from the director, it turned to something more cartoonish. We all joined forces to find the best references and several looks of the city recreated a new world for the video’s needs. It took more than we all expected but it was a huge lesson for all of us. Clearly, we had a different idea of what a comic or Marvel-style meant to all of us.
At the superhero’s mansion, a tiny part of the real actor interaction with the objects was physically built and extended. Also, a big part of the lab was built as a set, but in the end, proven to be mostly worthless, it had to be replaced by CG. All the rest of the interiors and exteriors were created in CG. Even details like the table and comic book cover were created from scratch.
Director’s vision was to shoot explosions, fire, or water – things that we could use in the film instead of simulating them. Despite the fact that the live footage was really of good quality and the results were fantastic, the angles and light interactions did not allow to use most of it. In the end, 90% of the VFX shots had to be properly simulated and rendered.
Using 20+ LookDev plates, a clear rundown can be captured for group creative workshopping. At this point, it was imperative we had a VFX Supervisor on hand, to steer the CG requirements. In the end, qualifying the budget spend from 40% CG, up to 90% in CG production.
Communicating clearly and early the objective, the process, and the expectations are vitally important. There may be creative differences in vision, but worked through skillfully, they were resolved during production. The crew found it’s OK to have misunderstandings as long as the right people looked for the solution. While it is OK to set about shooting complicated scenes, it is also OK to use solid reference and/or stock footage.
Postproduction is an artistically driven technical process. There is never one right way to proceed with such productions. The journey of taking art direction, mixing it with directorial vision, and crafting it technically into a storyline for a 30-second commercial, can take time, creative license, and compromise to make it to the best quality. If we didn’t have to go back and fix things, we could then spend the time building effects from scratch, where we could guarantee the quality.
Postproduction is a technical process but very much also a person’s business. Creating a spot with heavy CG elements can stand in the way of directorial vision when there are live-action elements to consider as well. And sometimes even if this approach seems to be harder and more demanding, we as a post-studio have to take it and live with it. While in the end, the film can work both ways.
We always try to suggest the most cost-effective solutions for our customers. In the end, 90% of the VFX shots had to be precisely simulated and rendered in order to work within the framing and tempo of the film.
“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.
最终观众看到的大部分画面其实由CG完成。广告片中的实验室，城市，公寓以及其他空间；基本上所有能看到的事物，楼房，家具，设备，车辆，超级英雄各种代表防护功效的武器，甚至是开场主角手里的漫画书，这本印着愤怒“熔岩怪兽”启动整个幻想故事道具，均为CG制作。而CG制作的 “熔岩怪兽” 最终也就是漫画世界里的反派主角。