The Block Triple Threat promo was shot mostly in camera by DOP Tony Luu and director Nick Peel. There are still 26 VFX shots of varying complexity, from complete environments to adding smoke and sparks in this commercial. What I like about this commercial, (apart from the VFX of course) are the set interiors created by Production Designer Ben Morieson. His first film job was on the cult Australian film The Castle which I think is why these interiors strike such a perfect balance between realism and kitsch.
My role was to consult with the director, DOP and production manager during pre-production to work out which effects could be done practically and digitally within the time constrains and budget.
During production/shooting I acted as an on-set VFX consultant and collected a large amount of reference material. My tools of choice for this stage are the Setellite app on iPad, a Canon 600D with my trusty Sigma 4.5mm and a zoom lens for spherical HDRI maps and reference stills respectively.
Post production took place over 8 days. There was quite a bit of keying, some roto and building the shot where the camera pulls up through 3 floors to the talent on the roof. I decided in the pre-prod phase to use the actual ground of the location as the surface of the rooftop that everyone is standing on in the final shots. The reason is, I’ve never been happy with the way talent contacts with the ground when a green floor is used. It’s also quicker and cheaper on the day. Slightly complicating things, the talent couples had to be shot separately as they were competitors and therefore not allowed to see each other during shooting. Consequently, they arrived at different times of the day so the shadow direction was different for each couple. The solution was to move the camera position to ensure the talent’s shadows lined up once they were spliced together into the same shot. The downside of this was the position where the greenscreen met the ground was different for each couple necessitating some roto from about the knees to the waist. There’s always a compromise but we got the talent contacting with the ground convincingly and real exterior lighting.
Incidentally, his was shot on a Red Epic at 4K with 5:1 compression. We conformed the footage into the Flames at 2k and worked at 2k resolution. Occasionally, re-conforming at full 4K was required, i.e. when we needed to push in on a shot in post. This was a much smoother workflow than our previous project where we conformed in 5K and worked in 4K. I imagine working in 5K wont be an issue in the near future but right now it’s too much for our 2015 Flames to handle.
In the end my team delivered all VFX shots on time and the commercial went to air as scheduled. Now it’s time to clear some space for the next project!