NEW YORK — Creative studio One Fine Day (www.ofdny.com) produced the :30 trailer that promotes AMC’s new series, Fear the Walking Dead, a spin-off of the network’s hit,
The Walking Dead. The video went viral, helping to make the show’s launch one of the most successful for any cable network.
From concept to production to post, One Fine Day worked closely with AMC to create the VFX-intensive promo, which reveals Los Angeles as the latest city to fall victim to the zombie apocalypse. The city’s familiar skyline features buildings that have been set ablaze.
“This new series begins pre-apocalypse, so the totally abandoned and desolate look and feel of the original The Walking Dead franchise didn’t apply here,” explains One Fine Day co-founder and creative director, Christopher Haak. “Instead, the network wanted to convey the gradual buildup of fear and tension. People are still going about their daily routines, but something ominous is brewing.”
Fire is a constant and served not only as a narrative element, but as a lighting source too, illuminating sections of the blacked-out city.
“Between the prismatic city lights and streaming traffic, LA’s nighttime skyline has an incredible energy that’s pulsing with life,” says Haak, who referenced actual photos of natural disasters and urban power outages to create each scene. “We imagined what it would look like if we sucked the life out of the city, one building or one block at a time.”
OFD faced the challenge of showing the city’s prolonged destruction in just :30. They achieved this with a time-lapse effect, inspired by the work of DP Colin Rich, who also provided plates for the concept. The frenetic motion of the time-lapses subtly reinforces a sense of panic and hysteria.
One Fine Day and Rich scouted industrial and suburban locations that would reflect quintessential Los Angeles. With broad, sweeping shots of the sprawling city dominating the picture, the studio made a conscious effort to maintain a human-scaled point of view, as if the viewer were a bystander trapped in the city. For most shots, this meant ground-level camera angles, where foreground detail was visible. Even as the camera climbs upward in later shots, the viewpoint remains at a scale from that of a tall building, or hills just outside the city.
“From compositional choices to understanding and mimicking the behavior of light, we try to approach every shot as both artists and scientists,” says Haak.
The creative studio composited live-action footage with 3D animation and digital matte paintings to achieve the trailer’s ultimate look. Most of the footage was captured using a Canon 5D MKIII DSLR. LRTimelapse was used for pre-processing of imagery. For matchmoving, the studio employed SynthEyes. Imagineer’s Mocha AE was also used, specifically for planar tracking. The matte paintings were created in Photoshop and elements were composited in After Effects. NewTek LightWave 3D was used for 3D animation, and FumeFX/Maya was used to generate additional fire and smoke elements.
One Fine Day’s Nathalie de La Gorce also served as creative director. Dave Reid at SoundReid provided the video’s sound design. Additional VFX were contributed by General Idea. AMC credits include SVP brand creative, Geoffrey Whelan; VP design and branding, Ben Rubin; VP production, Geoff Addeo; and creative director, Jacqui Busséy.