February 14, 2007

Guerilla FX Produces Big Heart Visual Effects for Montefiore - Einstein Heart Center

New York - Guerilla FX, an independent design, effects, and post finishing company, has created the visual effects and heart for a 30-second commercial for Montefiore Medical Center.   The spot was developed by Lorel Marketing Group of King of Prussia, Penn., and includes live-action shots by Harpoon Pictures.
“Big Heart” opens in what appears to be a cavernous exhibition hall, where individuals view a large, holographic, semi-transparent red heart as it rotates in space. The voiceover encourages viewers to:  “Imagine you could shape a weak heart and avoid the need for a transplant; Imagine if your heart ever stopped beating it would automatically restart; Imagine you could see into the heart without ever going inside.” The visionary thinking of the Montefiore-Einstein Heart Center has imagined all this, and more, and has made them a reality.

“Big Heart” was directed by Larry Robins of Harpoon Pictures, who says of the project, “The agency’s original notion was to shoot this in Philadelphia at the Franklin Science Center’s big heart model. However, the heart had neither the scale nor the scope we wanted to attach to the Heart Center. After looking at a number of Beaux Arts buildings and museum spaces, none of which were exactly right or available for our project, we sent two days talking to CG companies all over the country -- Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, even Montreal. Our greatest challenge was building the heart that was both believable and schematic at the same time. We were not sure exactly what it should look like. The last company to pitch me and agency producer Jeff Brown was Guerilla FX, and when Thor Raxlen suggested that the heart be made out of light, that made everything click. Suddenly we knew exactly where we were going with the spot. Things that seemed problematic became obvious. The holographic heart logically supported things like rotating the heart. It became its own light source. We did not have to light the heart as it would be built from light so it had its own glow, its own presence, we could see people inside and outside of the heart.”

“Once Guerilla FX was awarded the job, we worked closely with Harpoon. We created, in 3D, a number of style frames which suggested different ways of achieving what we felt should be a cross between a laser show and a holograph. To figure out the logistics beforehand, I sat down with Larry and Harpoon’s production designer Ken MacCleod and his 3D program, Sketch Up, and we created a virtual set. We gave Ken a model of the heart, which he incorporated into the set before we attempted to build the set in a 3D environment,” explains Guerilla FX creative director/VFX director Thor Raxlen. “Next, I worked with Larry Robins and DP Predrag Dubrovcic, who shot their actors blue screen on a variety of platforms and from a number of angles, to insure that this footage could be incorporated into our environment. Then we took the footage back to our studio and built a rough assembly of the room and our heart design, modeled it in 3D, placed the actors in the various environments, created a rough cut CG-matic and tracked the scenes in 3D so that we could seamlessly integrate the actors walking and cameras moving in the environment. We also added lines within the heart to suggest a scanner segmenting the heart into 64 distinct parts. Finally, we rendered this out in HD and simultaneously down converted to standard-definition. Moving People allowed us to create the digital extras walking around in the background. We used Pixel Farm’s PFHoe for the 3D tracking. In Autodesk's 3ds Max we created a virtual set that corresponded to the real filmed set and that enabled us to insert our filmed characters into the virtual sets and create camera moves that do not feel like a series of locked off shots. For the rotoscoping and chromakey, we used Adobe After Effects and Apple Shake, and lastly, our editors assembled the spot.”  

The Guerilla FX team, which completed the visual effects, offline editorial, and postproduction for “Big Heart” included: Creative Director/VFX Director Thor Raxlen; Executive Producer Doug Robbins; Online and Offline Editor Linda Peters; Senior 3D Artists Jesse Holmes, Steve Sullivan; 3D Artists Andy O’Donnell and Komal Crasto; 3D Modeler Todd Daniels; Compositors Jason Yantz, Christopher Green and Eric Miro; and Post Supervisor Jody Peters. 

Representing the Lorel Marketing Group (King of Prussia, PA) were: Creative Director Gerry Stankus, Senior Art Director Ali Wilcox, Senior Account Executive Dan Lenzoni, Associate Account Executive Aileen Weisen and Producer Jeff Brown.   Harpoon Pictures, Ltd. (New York, NY) and Director Larry Robins, Executive Producer Chester Mayer, Director of Photography Predreg Dubrovcic, Production Designer Ken MacCleod and Producer Mark Romanski shot “Big Heart” at Sony Stages (New York, NY).

Representing Montefiore Medical Center were Vice President of Marketing Tom Tebbens and Product Line Manager, MEHC Chris Snyder.

Credit Sheet
Airdate:  February 8, 2007 in the New York market                                                         
Client: Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Bronx, NY)
Title of Spot: “Big Heart”
Length and # of Spot:  one :30
Description of Spot: In what appears to be a huge open modern computer-generated exhibition hall, individuals view a large, pulsating, transparent red heart as it rotates in space and a voiceover intones “Imagine you could shape a weak heart and avoid the need for a transplant; Imagine if your heart ever stopped beating it would automatically restart; Imagine you could see into the heart without ever going inside.”  The visionary thinking of the Montefiore-Einstein Heart Center has imagined all this, and more, and has made them a reality.
Visual Effects/Editorial/Postproduction: Guerilla FX
City/State: New York, NY
Creative Director/VFX Director: Thor Raxlen
Executive Producer: Doug Robbins
Senior 3D Artists: Jesse Holmes, Steve Sullivan
3D Artists: Andy O’Donnell and Komal Crasto
3D Modeler: Todd Daniels
Offline Editor: Linda Peters
Compositors:  Jason Yantz, Christopher Green and Eric Miro
Online Editor: Linda Peters Post Supervisor: Jody Peters  

Agency: Lorel Marketing Group
City/State: King of Prussia, PA
Creative Director: Gerry Stankus
Senior Art Director: Ali Wilcox
Senior Account Executive: Dan Lenzoni
Associate Account Executive: Aileen Weisen
Producer: Jeff Brown

Production Company: Harpoon Pictures, Ltd.  
City/State: New York, NY
Director: Larry Robins
Director of Photography: Predreg Dubrovcic
Executive Producer: Chester Mayer
Production Designer: Ken MacCleod
Producer: Mark Romanski  

Location of Shoot: Steiner Studios
City/State: Brooklyn NY
Client: Montefiore Medical Center V
ice President of Marketing: Tom Tebbens
Product Line Manager, MEHC: Chris Snyder
Audio Post: New York Sound
City/State: New York, NY
Mixer: Joe Cunningham