The visual effects heavy advertising campaign is produced by Native Communications and post-production company PixelBox in Hong Kong
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | August 10, 2012
Famed cricket players Sri Lankan bowler Lasith Malinga and women’s captain Shashikala Siriwardene, Indian batsman Virat Kohli, South Africa’s wicket-keepers Mark Boucher (filmed prior to his retirement announcement) and Mignon du Preez, and bowler Morne Morkel unite to participate in a one of a kind international cricket match.
The visual effects heavy advertising campaign promoting the International Cricket Council World Twenty20 international championship games in Sri Lanka was produced by agencies Phoenix Ogilvy Colombo with Ogilvy & Mather Mumbai, production company Native Communications and post-production company PixelBox in Hong Kong.
Native director Ram Subramanian explains, “The cricket game is played in a strange place where it seems like a regular stadium, just that the ground vibrates with every touch and step. At the end a giant hand comes down and beats the drum. We realize all this is happening on the drum of a fan who is watching the game in the stadium seats.”
The idea for “Drum Cricket” was formed by the creative team involving creative director Sukesh Nayak and account supervisor Dharam Valia at Ogilvy Mumbai.
Nayak explains, “Sri Lanka has a deep rooted history of drumming in their culture and we wanted to integrate this tradition into our commercial. We realized both a drum surface and a cricket stadium are circular so we decided to set the location of the cricket match on top of a drum.”
The post-production intensive commercial required PixelBox to be involved from the very early stages of pre-production to plan each shot with Subramanian and producer Prithvi Luthra from Native.
PixelBox producer Mikyung Kim reveals, “We had about six weeks to complete the entire campaign from previsualization through final delivery. As more commercials go with a foreign post option it’s our priority to make the process as easy as possible for everyone. We arranged the schedule so that only two trips to Hong Kong would be needed at the beginning and end of the job with a post color-grading session once online was locked. In between, we sent work in progress versions and segments of the commercial out every two to three days.”
The director worked with PixelBox’s lead CG artist Tahir Palali for four days to complete the previsualization of the commercial in 3D animation using Maya prior to the shoot.
Palali explains, “The previsualization helped us visualize the shots and foresee any technical issues we might come across during the shoot and in post production. I spent a lot of time with the director, deciding on the shot angles, camera movement, timing and how we would go about filming the players to achieve the desired effects.”
Chris Thorp, the lead online artist and managing director of PixelBox explains the post-production process, “There were several issues we needed to address and shoot everything in a way that would make post production as smooth as possible. Firstly the simple fact that the players appear miniature on the surface of a drum in what looks like a stadium. We advised production to get the floor of a huge studio actually painted with the drum skin texture and keep all the backgrounds black and the art team did a great job with this. The original suggestion was to chroma key everything which potentially could have been a disaster!”
Thorp travelled with Chris Szymanski the offline editor from Cut+Run Hong Kong to Mumbai to supervise the three day shoot.
Szymanski states, “It made sense for me to cut on set with a mobile Final Cut Pro so that we could dedicate more time to the online edit. I could feedback to Ram instantly what shots were and weren’t working for the desired visual effects and timing of the edit. I think this definitely lifted some of the weight from Ram’s shoulders so he knew that it was going to work and there would be no nasty surprises once we got back to the edit suite. Since Ram had the foresight to previz and musically score the commercial before any cameras rolled, this all meant that we had an offline ready pretty much as we finished shooting”.
With commercial productions unusual obstacles often present themselves and ICC was no exception. Malinga had forgotten to bring his team uniform pants with him to Mumbai and had to don another pair of blue sweats sourced last minute for the shoot. This posed an interesting challenge for colorist Chung Chow who had to manually change the original pant color to match the shade of blue to the Sri Lanka team uniform for each shot.
Chow explains, “I used several powerful functions of FilmLight’s Baselight system to create color masks and windows to properly track the moving action in the picture so the color temperature and contrast between the uniform shirt and pants would match.”
The shock wave effect in the first half of the commercial enhanced the impact against the drum surface and also served as a clue to the drum environment.
Kit Tam, the lead CG artist explains, “To design the shock wave we studied interesting chemical and natural elements ranging from nuclear explosions, sound waves, sand storms and tornadoes. Our aim was to create a shock wave that is explosive but not destructive”.
The final version of the shock wave was simulated using 3D Max and was composited using Nuke.
Before each of the players made their move, Subramanian wanted to create a Medusa type effect to symbolize the many thoughts players have before they react.
“When Malinga psychs himself up to bowl at someone we see his mindset, speed, focus and anger personified through the visual effect,” explains Subramanian.
Thorp reveals, “The idea we came up with was to project each of players performing their action onto smoke, then combine them into a fan type shape. On set we shot and then layered each of the players actions up in After Effects. Then fed the composited stream to a projector which in turn back projected the images into the smoke. This gave us multiple elements we were able to use in the final composite back in Hong Kong.”
Subramanian recalls, “The ICC project was quite a journey and the whole team from PixelBox made excellent travel companions, the kind that make the ride and not just the finished film memorable. Their enthusiasm is infectious, their talent pool is good and the way they went about executing the job was impressive.”
The campaign includes 60, 45, 30 and 20 second versions and four teasers which will air on Star Sports and ESPN.
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