June 9, 2008

Filmworkers Club Takes “Tack-ful” VFX Approach for Capital One Spot

Chicago - Filmworkers Club created visual effects for a new spot for Capital One Bank in which New York City is rained on by a shower of giant pushpins. Artists from the post house collaborated with a creative team from Atlanta agency BBDO in crafting the clever illusion.
The spot centers on two men in a Manhattan restaurant who use mapping software to locate the nearest Capital One Bank branch. Mimicking the electronic pushpins that appear on the map on the men's laptop, real pushpins, the size of houses, fall out of the sky and land in the street outside bank branches citywide. The last pin lands in the asphalt just outside the restaurant, marking the location of the Capital One Bank branch across the street.

Filmworkers Club's visual effects team, led by creative director/lead compositor Rob Churchill, created the giant pushpins as CG elements and integrated them into the background scenes. "We tried to make the pushpins as realistic as possible by adding nicks, scratches, and mold markings," Churchill says. "We also took reference photos outside of objects made from similar rounded plastic to see how they would react to the light."

Churchill and his team applied a myriad of subtle touches to make the effects look real, such as adding CG elements of bursting concrete and asphalt and exploding dust to the impact sites, as well as shadows and reflections of the falling pushpins. In one instance, a stream of water from a broken water main was applied to the scene. Shaking and bouncing cars were added as foreground elements and, in some scenes, the entire background environments were fabricated.

While the background environments for most of the effects scenes were shot with a static camera, Churchill added artificial zooms and camera moves to make them look more dynamic. "For the final scene in the restaurant, we added camera shake as if the impact of the pushpin had caused the building to move," Churchill observes. "For further emphasis, we put in lighting fixtures and caused them to sway and also added shaking blinds to the window." The entire scene viewed outside the restaurant window-including the pushpin and the Capital One bank branch-were added during the visual effects process.

Noting that the spot is intended to be funny, Churchill said that it was important that the falling pushpins didn't appear too menacing. "We didn't want to evoke tragedy so we scaled down the destruction a bit," he recalls. "When the pins hit, they break up the concrete, but it remains very localized."

A graphic that appears near the end of the spot, where the camera pulls out of a satellite image of New York and reveals the Capital One Bank logo, was created by Filmworkers Club's affiliated design studio, Lift Motion Design. Filmworkers Club also produced an alternate version of the spot set in New Orleans.

Churchill noted that he was intrigued by the concept of the spot and went to elaborate lengths in preparing a video test that won the project for Filmworkers Club. He had someone shoot video footage of him driving his own car and coming to a screeching halt. He later added a pushpin that falls in front of his car's hood. "A car parked across the street happened to have its flashers on, and I turned that into a car alarm that goes off when the pin hits, Churchill observed. "I added a Capital One Bank branch across the street and everyone loved the test."


Client:                           Capitol One Bank

Agency:                        BBDO Atlanta. Stephen McMennamy, creative director; Melanie Lambertson, producer.

Production:                   Tool Of North America. Tom Routson, director; Caroline Pham, producer; Lesley Robson-Foster, VFX supervisor.

Editorial:                       PS260, New York. Dustin Stephens, editor; Mitch Stockwell, producer.

Design:                         Lift Motion Graphics, Chicago. Jason White, creative director; Sam Gierasimczuk and Kyle Shoup, 2D artists.

Post/Finish:                   Filmworkers Club, Chicago. Rob Churchill VFX director; Mary O'Gara, executive producer; Rick Thompson Inferno artist; Jen Gajos, Flame artist; Charlie Peterson and Matt Daly, CGI artists; Matt Green editorial assistant.

Music:                          Tonefarmer, New York. Christina Tortorelli, executive producer.