We've seen robots fighting in a kitchen, 17th century lovers chasing one another through a woman's home, and a fireman rescue a child as a man casually looks on. Now, DIRECTV's Don't Just Watch TV campaign continues with an incredible man-on-wolf battle raging in a suburban home, the product of a brilliant collaboration between the LA and London offices of MPC and Biscuit Filmworks Director Noam Murro, all working via Grey NY.
Frozen in Time follows a fur-clad arctic explorer as he fights off a ferocious pack of wolves in the midst of a blizzard. This severe environment and intense battle are improbably couched in the modern home of a casually dressed man, who walks unhindered among the raging battle. The T-shirt-clad observer repeatedly pauses the action mid-fight as he wanders from room to room to grab a drink, answer the door for a pizza delivery, and relax on his couch. "With DIRECTV, you can start watching in one room, pause, and continue watching in any other room," explains a narrator.
"This is the same team we worked with for Hot House, with Grey, Noam, Bruce McCloskey on production design, with the addition of Toby Irwin as DP," MPC MD Andrew Bell explained, referring to the aforementioned and well-regarded fire rescue spot for DIRECTV. "Only this time, we really stepped up the post work, bringing the full force of LA and London together to create some really memorable effects."
The post work indeed integrates seamlessly with the live action. Working with four live-action wolves, the combined crew generated a CG stand-in, a task necessitated by the tricky nature of working with live animals. "Everyone certainly tried their best to get the required performance out of the wolf, but that's the risk you take when you use live-action wolves. We had to find a plate in which the wolf looked aggressive and had the correct eye line," noted Bell. "Here, London's expertise proved invaluable, as they were able to lead the creation of a perfect CG stand-in."
Los Angeles has its own expertise, and set all of the shots up, proxy modeling the bedroom and kitchen sets and the camera tracking of each scene. Using this information, London began generating the wolf as LA kicked out airborne snow and mist, breath condensation from the explorer and wolves, and flame and spark effects. "As in the previous spots in this series, each of these effects had to work both in real-time and for the frozen moments, where they would really be scrutinized," stated Bell.
"This was a seamless intra-company collaboration that showcases how well we work in spite of our geographical distance," Bell continued. "Franck Lambertz flew back to Los Angeles to supervise the shoot and oversaw the CG wolf team in London, while Benoit Mannequin looked after the snow and fire effects in LA. New York allowed Grey - who, as always, had a superb vision of their desired final product - to view HD real time work in progress, work with our senior colorist Mark Gethin remotely, and put the final film to tape."
The final challenge came with the end of the spot, when the action leaves the home and emerges on a wall-mounted flatscreen. For this shot, MPC created a matte-painted background of a forest, rotoscoped the arctic explorer and composited the 3D world into the center of a computer-generated blizzard.
Spot Title: Frozen in Place :30, :60
Air Date: November 2011
Agency: Grey, NY
Creatives: Dan Kelleher & Denise O'Bleness
Producer: Andrew Chinich
Prod Co: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Noam Murro
DP: Toby Irwin
Producer: Colleen O'Donnell & Jay Veal
Editorial Co: Spot Welders
Editor: Haines Hall
Post/Effects Co: MPC LA & London
VFX Supervisors, LA: Mike Wynd (3D), Benoit Mannequin (2D)
VFX Supervisors, UK: Jake Mengers (3D), Franck Lambertz (2D)
MD, LA: Andrew Bell
EP, UK: Michael Stanish
3D Artists: John Cherniack, Yas Koyama, Daniel Kmet, Dominic Edwards, Fabio Zaveti, Christopher Antoniou, Andreas Restle, Neil Griffiths
2D Artists: Kurt Lawson, Ben Persons (Matte Painter) , Thomas Borowski (Matte Painter), Christopher Fraser , Luke Todd, James Adamson, Toby Aldridge , Rob Walker , Byron Woofinden, Yourick Van Impe, Bruno Fukumothi, Ryan Hadfield
Colorist: Mark Gethin
About MPC:MPC is an award winning VFX and Digital studio servicing the advertising, motion picture and television industries. From its London, New York, Santa Monica, Vancouver, and Bangalore offices, MPC's dynamic and diverse team delivers industry-defining VFX, animation, motion graphics, color grading, production, projection mapping, social and mobile application development, online advertising, data management, software R&D and pipeline development.
With a trio of integrated divisions, MPC utilizes a unified approach that drives the use of existing or newly created assets across the whole range of today's media landscape. MPC Creative handles client projects directly with top-notch directing, CG animation and character design. MPC FX Studio is a dedicated corps of graphic and digital designers who bring clients' visions to life. MPC Data Lab processes the content and makes it available for editing on demand. MPC is a Technicolor Company.