October 19, 2006

Spy Post Creates VFX for New GMC Campaign

San Francisco, Calif. - Ad agency Carol H. Williams Advertising (CHWA) commissioned Spy Post, a VFX and postproduction house, for a new campaign for GMC. The two spots, "Luxury Box" and "Stadium," promote the newly redesigned 2007 Yukon Denali and feature sports commentator James Brown.

"It is always difficult taking a project from concept to execution, especially when you are creating a world that to some degree doesn't exist," says Kurt Herr, creative director for the ads at Carol H. Williams Advertising. "Working with Spy Post to take our concepts to reality was an incredible collaborative experience."

In "Luxury Box," James Brown compares the spacious interior of the Yukon Denali to the luxury box seats at a football stadium. Both offer the comforts of leather seating and high-end stereo equipment to enjoy the entire football season.

The second spot, "Stadium," conjures a magical feeling as Brown emerges from a doorway aglow with light. As he makes his way around the stadium, the jumbotrons come alive with elegant imagery of the Denali, which interacts with and affects the stadium scenes around it.

For Spy Post, the effects work required previsualizing how the stadium and its jumbotrons would look. Jon Wank, Spy Post lead artist, performed on-set supervision during the shoot at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. To get a sense of the look and placement of the CG monitors, Wank mocked-up the monitors on-set on his Mac laptop running Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Photoshop, and incorporated the images shot by the production team.

"The stadium would ultimately have multi-tiered structure and connect all the way around in an oval shape," explains Wank. "By attaching my computer to the on-set video monitor, I was able to frame the shots, and work interactively with the director, CHWA creatives, and the client to determine the final aesthetics and size of the jumbotrons. We decided on 16:9 aspect ratio for the monitors, which we felt looked and framed better."

Spy Post artists set to work on re-engineering the stadium to appear as a football field indistinguishable from any other. This included mapping in a football field with appropriate lighting and perspective, and adding and manipulating seats and architecture, as well as goal posts and railings, to look like an actual stadium. Spy Post also used stills of jumbotrons as reference to build the CG monitors to scale in terms of housing, and depth and width.

Wank worked closely with Compositor Darren Orr, designer/compositor Alaina Goetz and senior colorist Chris Martin. With all Flame systems in use, the artists found it effective to pass shots back and forth and add their creative input. "The teamwork was awesome," remarks Goetz. "Virtually every shot has effects, and Darren, Jon, and I were able to seamlessly exchange shots and efficiently tackle a project of this magnitude. Also, there was a great exchange with [senior colorist] Chris Martin who really set the look, tone and color palette of the campaign."

The CG monitors were created in tandem with animation director Joe Henke of Hero Motion Pictures. Maya was used for the 3D modeling and lighting, and boujou for tracking the footage into the monitors. Flame was utilized for all compositing, lighting effects, and assembling the stadium replication and augmentation.

"This was a very technically-driven spot," says Goetz. "We had to make the effects look real, sexy and slick, but in such a way that would maintain focus on the car. If we've done our job well, then people won't even recognize that heavy effects work was involved."

Client: GMC

Spot Titles/Airdates:

"Luxury Box" :30/October 2006

"Stadium" :30/October 2006


Ad Agency: Carol H. Williams Advertising

Senior VP/Executive Creative Director: Ray Clemons

Creative Director: Kurt Herr

Senior Art Director: Peter Judd (Luxury Box)

Art Director: Maria Montes (Stadium)

Copywriter: Dinar Davis

Producer: Karen Carlson


Production Company: @radical.media

Director/DP: Jeff Zwart

Executive Producer: Frank Scherma

Head of Production: Cathy Dunn

Producer: Susie Gilman

Where Shot: Dodger Stadium/Los Angeles, CA


Editorial Company: Filmcore

Editors: Doug Walker (Stadium) & Connor McDonald (Luxury Box)

Assistant Editor: James Cohen

Executive Producer: Jon Ettinger

Producer: Tracy Coleman


VFX Company: Spy Post

Lead Artist: Jon Wank

Designer/Compositor: Alaina Goetz

Compositor: Darren Orr

Executive Producer: Anastacia Maggioncalda


CG Animation Company: Hero Motion Pictures

Animation Director: Joe Henke


Postproduction Company: Spy Post

Colorist: Chris Martin

Color Assistant: Carey Burens

Online Editor: Jon Wank

Music Company: L4L Music & Messy Music

Composers: Alfredo Isaac @ L4L Music (Stadium) & Doug DeAngeles @ Messy

Music (Luxury Box)

Sound Design & Audio Post Company: Polarity Post

Sound Designer/Mixer: Patrick Fitzgerald

On Camera Talent: James Brown, Sportscaster