January 5, 2009

Brickyard VFX Serves Up Holiday Cheer for RadioShack

Santa Monica, Calif. - Artist-owned and -operated bi-coastal effects boutique Brickyard VFX contributed visual effects, including CG and compositing work, to RadioShack's holiday campaign from ad agency Arnold Worldwide. "The Best Gifts Ever" is a four-part spot that includes: "Santa," "Story," "Hot Friday," and "Hot Weekend."
Each ad opens with the tagline "The Best Gifts Ever" and the RadioShack logo. The :30 "Story" shows a mother and father shopping at RadioShack for their college-aged daughter, who is spending her first holiday away from home. On Christmas day, the daughter opens a package to reveal a children's storybook and a mobile phone pre-loaded with an old home movie. She watches the video of her mother and a toddler version of herself reading the story together on the view screen, and then cuddles up on the sofa with the book and phone to reminisce over past holidays with the family.

The :30 "Santa" opens on a woman shopping at RadioShack for a gift for her husband. The salesperson recommends a GPS device, and when her husband opens it on Christmas day, he finds it pre-loaded with directions to the town of Santa Claus, Indiana. The family piles into the car and travels to the town, where they find Rudolph's Diner, staffed by Santa and his elves. Both "Story" and "Santa" close with in-store promotions and the RadioShack logo.

The :30 "Hot Weekend" and "Hot Friday" promote weekend holiday sales at RadioShack, and begin with an exterior shot of the store wreathed in snow and decked out for the holidays. The shot zooms through the door and into the store's interior to a table serving as a backdrop for that weekend's promotions, and the ad closes with the RadioShack logo.

Brickyard VFX provided extensive CG work for the campaign. The CG team, led by supervisor David Blumenfeld, created a photorealistic neon sign for the diner in "Santa." Lead compositor Peter Bullis composited the sign, and added snowfall elements to the scene. The spots "Hot Weekend" and "Hot Friday" were created entirely in CG. CG artist Robin Hobart created a 3Dtemplate for the interior of the store that could be quickly and easily changed as the season progressed.

"The client wanted to be able to showcase as many different products as possible," Hobart says. "They originally proposed using a still as a backdrop, but we really wanted to do something better and came up with an idea for a 3D environment that would allow elements to be swapped out as needed. To avoid making changes to the original background, we rendered it out as its own element, and once everything had been art-directed it was only a matter of replacing the individual products when necessary."

The exterior store front for the spots were created from 2D photographs that were disassembled and made into layers in Adobe Photoshop, and then reassembled in 3D space in Lightwave. "Some portions were modeled as 3D elements, while for other segments we created cards in 3D space and used camera projection to project those layers of the scene that we had previously separated out onto the cards," says  Blumenfeld. "Then we took the 3D camera and flew it past the cards and into the geometry of the store, creating the same parallax as if you were actually traveling through an environment in 3D space."

Lead compositor Peter Bullis provided view screen graphics for both "Santa" and "Story" that looked realistic without being cluttered. Brickyard VFX also provided CG snow for all three spots, background and sky replacement, rig removal, and cleanup.