May 13, 2008

Absolute Recreates Sin City for Crossroads, Samsung

Award-winning Icelandic directing duo, Samuel & Gunnar, directed “Attraction” as the first spot through Crossroads UK and turned the job around on a tight schedule. Absolute was instrumental in setting the campaign’s defining look, as most of the scenery was built in post through a combination of 3D and digital matte painting.

The spot opens on a black-and-white shot of a Samsung TV framed by an ambient red-lit border. Stark and dramatic shots of night sky follow, with a red cloud sweeping across the moon. Viewers see a sporting hero (Michael Ballack in the German version, Ebi Smolarek in the Polish version) taking in the dark city. Traces of red appear as a strange phenomenon. The mystery is resolved when the hero is shown a room containing the TV and its red border.


Absolute’s lead Flame and 3D artists (Ben Robards and Minh Nguyen-Ba) got involved at an early stage, working closely with the directors and agency as the early Sin City brief gradually developed into a more modern treatment by adding contemporary office architecture and a more balanced but less forgiving exposure than the film’s signature crushed look.


All the exterior city shots were filmed against greenscreen. The only set design present in the greenscreen studio was a balcony, so the rest of the exterior elements were developed in post. Ben Robards and Minh Nguyen-Ba built an extensive library of reference material by taking high-resolution photos over several nights to capture stills of the city, Canary Wharf, and Paddington Basin. They covered appropriate angles and textures to provide the foundations for the all-important cityscape matte paintings and 3D.


Absolute’s Flame artist, Ben Robards, says: “Most of the film was shot on 35mm anamorphic lenses which gave it a beautiful look but required extra attention to ensure details like focus pulls, depth of field, lens flares and grain looked authentic when the greenscreen material was composited with the CG at full HD. One of the biggest challenges was the shot that looks down onto a street interchange from a rooftop. The limited height of the studio meant a very wide lens was needed to capture the full extent of the action, which presented perspective problems when it came to shrinking and repositioning.”


Absolute’s 3D artist, Minh Nguyen-Ba, explains: “The drop-down from the balcony to the street was probably the most challenging shot as every building had to be created from scratch, filled with office furniture, and lit to give it a night-time look. The sheer amount of data meant that the street had to be rendered in “slices” to make it more manageable. Seventy percent of the shots have CG backgrounds, so I think it is fair to say that CG has played a major role in the impact of the campaign.”


Product: Samsung Series 6 LCD TV with Crystal Design

Title: Attraction

Airdate: May 2008 (Germany)

Post Production: Absolute

VFX Producer: Sally Heath

3D: Minh Nguyen-Ba, Gaia, Jamie, Toby, Michael, Guillame

Flame: Ben Robards, Richard Bainbridge, Pete Smith, Phil Oldham, Daniel

Morris, Nathan Kane, Hani Al Yousif

Combustion: Mark Epstein, Krispy, Michael Smith, Dan Leatherdale, Tim

Andrews, Owen Saward

Agency: Cheil Communication GERMANY

Creatives: Patrick Thiede, Berend Enslin-Lohmann

Agency Producer: Heike Windfelder

Production Company: Crossroads

Director: Samuel & Gunnar

Prod Co Producers: Andrew Swepson (Exec), Carly Stone (Exec), Hera King

Editor: Joe Guest @ Final Cut

Music Design: Walter Mair @ Finger Music

Audio: Scramble

3D Software: PF-track (3D tracking), Maya (modeling, animation and

rendering); Shake (compositing).

2D Software: Flame