May 27, 2008

The Syndicate, RSA Films, JWT Spain Win CLIO

Santa Monica, Calif. - Creative design and digital production studio The Syndicate has won a Gold Clio Award for its contribution to the execution of Freixenet's "The Key to Reserva" JWT Spain, RSA Films, and The Syndicate were awarded Clio's top honor in the Beverages/Alcohol category. The Clio Awards is the world's most recognized global awards competition for advertising, design, and interactive.
JWT Spain and RSA Films also won a Gold Pencil for "The Key To Reserva" at the 2008 One Show in New York.  
Spanish winery Freixenet commissioned Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese to direct its annual branded short film. RSA Films handled the production of "The Key to Reserva" for agency JWT Spain. Harris Savides was Director of Photography and Thelma Schoonmaker was the film's editor. The Syndicate produced extensive visual effects for the 10-minute film.    
Scorsese's concept for the project was to shoot a faux documentary about uncovering three-and-a-half pages of a lost screenplay for a never made Hitchcock film. Scorsese decides to bring the film to life, shooting it the way that "Hitchcock would have made it then, but now."

The suspense of "The Key to Reserva" unfolds at Carnegie Hall. The film's opening shot, an orchestra playing in front of a green screen, immediately sets up the film-within-a-film conceit. Carnegie Hall's performance schedule makes filming on location nearly impossible, so Scorsese enlisted visual effects supervisor Rob Legato to utilize digital technology to capture and recreate the symphony hall as a virtual environment and to make possible the sinuous, uninterrupted camera moves that are signatures of both Scorsese and Hitchcock.  
Additionally, there are dozens of invisible effects sequences. The closing shot of the film is an homage to Hitchcock's The Birds and a clever use of digital compositing to evoke the look of that era's special effects. The camera pulls back from a shot of Scorsese and his editor Thelma Schoonmaker in an editing room to the exterior of the building in a final reveal of blackbirds ominously flocking over the cityscape.  
Legato and his producer Ron Ames worked closely with visual effects supervisor Ben Grossmann and his team at The Syndicate on these sweeping tracking shots in a highly accelerated production schedule. Grossmann shot extensive 360-degree HDR panoramic imagery to create and texture digital models of Carnegie Hall in order to produce the majestic backdrop against which the murderous intrigue plays. He also oversaw the animation and compositing for the effects sequences. Grossmann and his team at The Syndicate also worked previously with Scorsese on the 45-second CG ending to the Rolling Stones concert film "Shine a Light." Grossman served as visual effects supervisor together with visual effects producer Ames and consultant Legato.  
"The Key to Reserva" was probably the most fun commercial project I have ever had the opportunity to work on," says visual effects supervisor Rob Legato. "What made it so much fun was the challenge of the most daunting deadline coupled with the organic, free form and wildly off-the-cuff creative ideas from one of the world's greatest directors paying homage to one of the world's most legendary and admired filmmakers." 
"Most companies would blanch at such a challenge for fear of not being able to pull off such a feat in the nearly impossible two weeks of post afforded the project. The deadline was intractable and so was the quality of the piece. Ben Grossmann and the Syndicate totally embraced the challenge and delivered Clio-caliber work without ever batting an eye." Kenny Solomon, managing director of The Syndicate says, "We were honored to be chosen by Marty and Rob to collaborate with them on yet another memorable project. To have our work recognized by the world class Clio jury is thrilling and inspiring for the entire company." Creative director David Hwang of DesignWorks at The Syndicate was responsible for the graphic design for the retro-style opening titles of "The Key to Reserva."  
The Clio Awards took place at the annual Clio Festival on May 17, 2008, at the Gansevoort South Hotel in Miami's South Beach.  
To view the film, visit