Usually, when you're swallowed by a fish, it's a bad day. Count on Absolute to make things right, breathing incredible vibrancy into an upbeat adventure of a spot for CTIA (The Wireless Association). Absolute Flame artist/CD Nathan Kane and CG supervisor Dan Dixon teamed up with Rabbit director Brent Bonacorso via GMMB on this unique effort, a technically challenging and visually pleasing marriage of surrealism and live-action vignettes.
“Your Mind is a Wireless Place” is a journey through one man's day, showing how wireless technologies connect us to the wider world. As the natty narrator springs from bed exclaiming, "This is how my day began," a miniature city rises to life from the floor, representing his phone's GPS. "A little bird told me about a band," he continues, tipping a sidewalk jazz band as a small blue bird—symbolizing the Tweeting masses constantly pushing information to his phone—looks on.
"An old man shared some fish stories," he continues, enjoying an "e-book," by sitting in a seesawing boat with an oddly animated Ernest Hemingway portrait as a giant fish leaps out of the sea and swallows the boat and occupants. When he opens his eyes, he has reappeared in the Doodle Jump video game application.
"But I missed her—we talked about Paris," the tale continues, with a video chat scene in which a scrolling pane of Paris streets hangs midair behind the man's girlfriend as they travel down their local sidewalks, connecting through the power of wireless technology, despite being miles apart. "Everyone else buzzed about the band," he says, staring up at an expansive brick-wall mural of the musicians as swarms of Twitter birds flutter across the screen.
"The whole spot has quite a surreal and stylized feel to it," noted Kane. "Brent's initial brief stated that this wireless world had to feel surreal and epic, but must have real-world detail to it. The skies that we chose, how we composited the seascape scenes—everything had a dreamlike feel while keeping details and properties of a photoreal environment. It was a balance that we played with, in context to the rest of the spot and what Brent had shot."
Absolute's handiwork included CG and VFX in Autodesk’s Maya, Next Limit’s RealFlow, Autodesk’s Flame and The Foundry’s Nuke created over a two-and-a-half-month span. Dixon's team crafted CG elements for Doodle Jump, the rocking waves, the flocks of Twitter birds, and the miniature cityscape. Kane's VFX included the Hemingway face, matte paintings and various stylized skies; all of which the studio integrated into the live-action footage.
Dixon and Kane worked closely with GMMB, CTIA and Rabbit throughout the creative and production processes. The duo was on set for the one-week shoot, an intense affair involving close coordination with Bonacorso to ensure they captured the appropriate environments for CG and VFX work. Absolute captured the lighting environments and, as Bonacorso was shooting on an Alexa camera, was able to handle some on-set grading to prepare some shots ahead of postproduction.
“Your Mind is a Wireless Place” follows Command, an ode to the power of wireless devices to make our lives easier. Absolute previously partnered with GMMB on that effort in 2011.