Creature Comforts
April 12, 2012

Creature Comforts

No matter what the origin of species, Residence Inn by Marriott is the favored accommodation on the road. Mcgarrybowen’s new campaign directed by Believe Media’s Gerard de Thame stars an elephant, giraffe and family of penguins enjoying the comforts of Residence Inn by Marriott. VFX for the “It’s not a room. It’s a residence” campaign are from The Mill L.A.
“Gerard [de Thame] wanted to shoot everything for real for inspiration, and then use CG as a contingency,” explains Paul O’Shea, The Mill’s VFX supervisor on the campaign. “We shot Stanley the giraffe in L.A. and Opal the elephant in Toronto. The penguins were in L.A. and ended up being a mix of live-action and CG.” O’Shea explains that both Stanley and Opal were pros and a pleasure to work with; the only issue was they were too big for the rooms. “We built a slightly oversized set for Opal, but couldn’t build things like the kitchen,” he explains. “So we matched the camera heights and positions, scaled them down and shot plates of the set. For Stanley, we filmed him against greenscreen. 

We learned that adolescent penguins and adults are very close to the same size by the time you are allowed to work with them, so every time we shot the live-action penguins with two heights to convey them as a family.” There were three CG giraffe shots and six CG penguin shots. Although there were no CG elephant shots, O’Shea explains that elephant skin tends to be freckly, so a beauty treatment was done over Opal’s real skin so it looked smooth and uniform. 

The Mill artists used the following software for the campaign work: Autodesk’s Maya, Pixel Farm’s PFTrack, Science D. Vision’s 3D-Equalizer, Autodesk’s Flame and Flare, The Foundry’s Nuke, Adobe’s Photoshop, and Google’s SketchUp. 

O’Shea also confesses that the shoot enlightened him on a fun fact about the animal kingdom: “We learned that you can’t hear elephants walking! They’re enormous, but you can’t hear them.”