December 23, 2008

Ingenuity Engine Taps Krakatoa for Zabeel Investments Commercial

Winnipeg, Canada - Frantic Films Software, the R&D arm of visual effects studio Frantic Films VFX and a division of Prime Focus Group, announced that its high-volume, point-based particle renderer Krakatoa was used by Los Angeles-based VFX studio Ingenuity Engine on a TV commercial for Zabeel Investments.
Directed by Graeme Joyce, "Bedouin" is an exploration into the possibilities of investing in the United Arab Emirates. The spot is airing in the Middle East market and premiered in September.
The software tool first caught the attention of Ingenuity Engine because of its efficiency in handling high particle count volumetric rendering and its interoperability with the company's Autodesk 3ds Max pipeline. Says David Lebensfeld, founder and lead artist, Ingenuity Engine, "To remain competitive, it's crucial to stay on top of the best tools and techniques available and it was clear Krakatoa was the most logical
solution for the Zabeel Investments project. Our experience was one of those rare moments in which the technical hurtles that Krakatoa eliminated actually ended up dictating the spot's look and feel."
The :60 TVC "Bedouin" opens on a desert at night, as winds kick up swirling clouds of sand. Inside, a Bedouin man reads a book by firelight. A voice-over intones, "In the future, the land shall rise from the sea. Knowledge shall be free." The man walks through the tent amidst a motion graphics flurry of Roman numerals, symbols and words in Arabic, which dissolve into particles.

"In the future, gemstones will glisten in the sky. Cities will know no boundaries," the voice-over continues, as twinkling stars form into the shapes of skyscrapers before blowing away as giant clouds of dust. "But this is not the future. And I'm no fortune teller," the voice says as the title cards, "This is today. This is Dubai. We are Zabeel Investments." closes out the spot.

For the commercial's main VFX team, which comprised Lebensfeld and Senior 3D Artist Kris Cabrera, one of the most valuable features within Krakatoa and one that was pivotal to its production process was the ability to partition particles. Ingenuity Engine's biggest obstacle to overcome was in creating more particles than Autodesk 3ds Max could natively support. This was where Krakatoa shined--the tool set was able to generate two million particles, partition them out, create another 10 million, and have an offset motion for each partition.

Ingenuity Engine's primary 3D package is Autodesk 3ds Max running on Dell workstations with an Avid Nitris as its primary I/O. The facility's network attached storage is a 5tb Dell Server with a gigabit backbone. All shots were composited in Combustion 4, and then transferred over to a G-Speed SAN for review on the Avid. Ingenuity Engine purchased Krakatoa specifically for use on the Zabeel Investments commercial, but has since used the tool on a "Back to School" campaign for Sears and a campaign, both directed by Joseph Kahn.

Krakatoa is available now for a list price starting at $495 and is compatible with Autodesk's 3ds Max Version 8 and higher.


Title: "Bedouin"
Length: :60
Client: Zabeel Investments

Post Production:
Supervisor/Lead Artist: David Lebensfeld
Executive Producer: Matthew Poliquin
Post-Coordinator: Michael Lebensfeld
Senior 3D artist: Kris Cabrera
3D artist: Michael Dunkley
Senior 2D/3D artist/On-set Supervisor: Daniel Raschko
Junior Compositor: Nicholas Sorenson
Online Editor: Adam Catino
Still photographer for matte paintings: Justin Gunari

Director:  Graeme Joyce
Producer:  William Green
1st Assistant Director:  John Knowles
Director of Photography:  Daniel Pearl, ASC
1st AC:  Eric Laudadio
Gaffer:  Joe Warren
Key Grip: Jason Wiest
Production Designer: Charles Infante