December 20, 2006

GrapeVine Brings Disney Products to Life for Holiday Season

Burbank, Calif. - Boutique facility GrapeVine Productions has completed production on two Disney’s Little Mermaid toy commercials. Ariel’s Magical Talking Kitchen and Ariel’s Magical Talking Salon spots are airing through the holiday season.

CDI Toys, the developers and manufacturers of both products, turned to GrapeVine Productions for a second year. A one-stop-shop, GrapeVine organizes projects such as The Little Mermaid spots from beginning to end: from the children cast,to the hardware and software used to complete the project.
Director of Photography, Kent Hughes, used a special HD Sony 900 Cinealta camera with a P+S Teknik lens adapter custom modified by Clairmont Camera for both commercials. The camera allowed Hughes to adapt his Zeiss High Speed prime lenses.
“The combination of camera equipment gives us great control over the depth of field and depth of focus, creating a much more cinematic look,” says director and owner of GrapeVine Productions, Tony Carenzo. “It allows us to steer the viewer’s eye and highlight just those parts of the product we want to emphasize.”

GrapeVine faced its biggest challenge when it came time to shoot a 180-degree shot of the Salon. The mirror on the top of the toy created a reflection of the camera as it passed. The small actors were also passing in front of the mirror at many times during the shoot, which caused minor difficulties in compositing the final mirror and character image onto the toy. To fix the camera issue, the mirror was blacked-out with fabric, and fixed later in post.

“We had to rotoscope the actors out of the shots and recomposite them over the graphic image. We also had to track the camera motion so it would all work seamlessly,” says lead graphics designer Mychael Lederer-Morihisa.  

Digital Fusion was the tool of choice for the completion of the commercials.
Lighting was also an issue, as the lights on the Salon toy were out-shone by the bright lights on set. Lederer-Morihisa corrected this also in post, with Adobe After Effects.
Director and co-owner of GrapeVine Productions, Erin Carenzo, directed the second commercial, “Ariel’s Magical Talking Kitchen.”

“We know there are hundreds of companies that can do what we do,” says Erin Carenzo. “It’s how we do it that sets us apart.”