Due to the high volume of commercials we create that make use of green screen footage, we’re often required to be on set to supervise. For any out of the ordinary, more complicated or higher budget commercials I’m often asked to be on set to VFX supervise. One such recent occasion was a shoot for Dubai based client Tiffany, for their new 30 second ‘Break’ commercial.
The commercial had two subtle yet vital VFX shots, one of which was the punch line for entire storyline, so there was little margin for error. The story involved a mischievous lab student throwing a crumpled up piece of paper at his attractive female counterpart. She replies in turn by taking a bite of the product ‘Break’ which causes the room to rumble and vials of blue goop to fall on the hero’s hair. This was the first VFX shot that needed compositing of two separate shots, wire rig removal, and compositing of green screen elements. The heroine then hands the surprised hero a piece of the Break, which upon biting, his hair bursts from a short buzz cut into a long, skyward facing, crazy hair-do.
This was the most important VFX shot and the one I would be tackling once we got back to the studio and received the footage. We achieved this shot by shooting two separate green screen shots of the actor performing the same action. First with his short buzz cut, and a second time with a very painstakingly styled wig. I would then key the two shots and carefully hand animate a morph between the two using a variety of techniques and layers upon layers of hand animated hair layer transforms.
The footage was shot in beautiful 5K RED Digital and the camera crew were able to use this camera to overlay the previous shot onto the live view in order to line up the actor perfectly once he’d had his wig applied. I was sitting with my 5 Dubai based clients in the tent in front of the field monitor to make sure everything was going according to plan. The producer originally wanted to shoot the first of these shots without the portable green screen, which I was quick to correct.
We finished shooting the entire commercial in one day despite that day ending at a late 8pm. Two days later we received the footage and I completed the main VFX shot in a day and half, the director was thrilled with the shot and had no comments or changes for it. It was an overall great day and fantastic commercial to work on!