DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES & NEW YORK, NY – It’s a familiar “against-all-odds” story about a scrappy boxer from the street who gets his one shot at the championship. Only this time it’s Transformer arch-enemies Megatron and Optimus Prime battling in the ring in this new, 3D-animated epic boxing ad from animation/visual effects house Clockwork VFX.
The animated battle is for an 90-second advertising spot touting the new Transformers Battle Mastersgame. Clockwork VFX worked with agency UPROAR in New York. See video here:
“This was an ambitious project from a CG animation perspective that truly tested Clockwork,” Jason Tomlins, Clockwork VFX’s Creative Director/Co-Founder, says. “Ninety seconds of complex 3D animation, featuring an array of action sequences set in photo-real environments, is a rarity in advertising, and it’s why this spot stands apart from everything else in the kids/toys market.”
Cinematic in its scope and narrative, the spot “A Warriors Journey” opens with a tracking shot of a fireworks strewn city skyline toward an arena where it’s moments away from the big Battle Masters fight between Megatron and Optimus Prime.
Inside their dressing room the fighters reflect on the path that led them to this moment: The proverbial underdog character, Optimus Prime, flashes back to sweating it out on the streets, training for the fight by bench-pressing cars at a junkyard and punching old shipping containers like a heavy bag. His humble origins are seen in direct contrast with the favorite, Megatron, who is shown training in state-of-the-art facilities with the best technology.
That backstory builds to the dramatic showdown in the ring. Set in a high tech arena before a sold out crowd, the beautifully choreographed boxing sequences employee the fast swinging camera movements and visceral slow-motion impact shots familiar to anyone that’s seen classic boxing films like “Raging Bull” or “Rocky.”
“We’ve worked with the Transformer’s brand before so we know how the characters move and interact,” Tomlins says. “In this case we took a few creative liberties from the look of toy to make them look a bit more like Transformers kids are used to seeing in the movies and animated TV series.”
Organic Approach To Crowd Simulation:
Although they employed many creative tools such as LightWave and the latest version of Nuke, Clockwork knew that crowd simulation would be needed to pull off the fight scenes. Rather than use an off-the-shelf crowd simulation plug-in, which Tomlins notes can lead to a stilted look, the Clockwork creative instead animated 30 or so unique looking characters performing about 4 seconds of movement (clapping, cheering, waving their hands, etc.). Those 30 characters were then duplicated numerous times and composited into the final scenes.
“We’re able to take on a spot like this and create 90 seconds of high-end 3D animation in the time most studios would need to 30 seconds because of the structure of our company,” Tomlins notes. “We are built on a really strong core creative team, supplemented by relationships we have with artists and studios around the world. It’s a combination that allows Clockwork to turn round challenging projects within time frames and budgets that are otherwise impossible for competing pipelines to match.”