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Compositing in the time of Corona

During the last year’s worldwide struggle to stay both healthy and sane, the need for being connected has become more pressing than ever. As digital communication has replaced physical exchanges, the interest in developing both the infrastructure and tools necessary to communicate is spiking. Technology development is taking leaps not only in means of long distance communication but also in long distance collaborative working. One example of the two coming together is the recently launched commercial for Smart’s “Simple ako” concept presented by Chris Evans. The commercial is the result of a global collaborative effort between several countries and creative parties. In the recently released video, Evans is walking and talking in many spectacular settings, as well as riding a motorbike through a tunnel of flashing lights towards a brighter and more connected future.

Parts of the commercial were shot on location in Malibu while some were shot in an LED studio. The LED studio’s style of shooting is a technology that is on the rise, and it has gotten significantly more popular during the 2020 pandemic. An ad artist created the moving and looping tunnels in order for the LED studio company to display it in the background. The shoot was supervised remotely and by cameras and delays which was a new problem to tackle. The LED footage came out great, and most of the time was spent creating the floating screens and visuals to go along with the presenter’s journey through technology. There was also a creation of a CG tunnel and a set extension of a city incorporated to make the commercial look more futuristic.

Quick Q&A with the project’s lead compositor Felix Thedeby

What is your background?

“I moved to Los Angeles from Sweden a little over four years ago to work as a visual effects artist at a Swedish company called Chimney. During my time in the states, I have worked with compositing in different roles on film, tv and commercials alike, as well as music videos. This project is the first project in which I have been involved with LED screen technology which is both exciting and rewarding.”

How did you get involved in this project?

“This project came to us at Chimney, and I was awarded the opportunity to take the lead on it, and all just spun from there.”

What was your role in the project?

“I was the lead compositor on the project, making sure everything was running smoothly and that the artists were able to deliver the high level of quality shots we strive to create. This role has become even more challenging, now that everyone works remotely and you have to oversee people in all different locations and time zones.”

What was it like working remotely, and is this something you have had prior experience from?

“This was my first time working remotely on a production utilizing the use of a LED studio. It involved a lot of communication and pre-production prep. We had to assure we got a deep understanding of the resolutions, frame rates and creating the CGI properly to work seamlessly with the screens. Which in practice, meant lots of zoom calls and a collaborative effort in a new way to make it all fall into place, as most of the artists work remotely from different locations.”

How does the visual effect help telling the story?

“In this case, the use of the LED screens and the digital backgrounds we created really helps to propel the story forward. Having Chris Evans drive through the futuristic tunnels, really gives a sense of what future technology can look like.”

What was it like working with the creative team?

“It’s great to be able to work so ‘closely’ together with such talented artists. Even though we are working remotely, we have a good workflow of communication and sharing our assets between one and another. It’s really great knowing you have such talented people to rely on and work with.”

In what way did this project help push visual effect technology forward?

“Like many other productions during these times, shooting productions with LED rigs is something that is pushing the visual effects industry further everyday. This leads to coming up with new creative solutions of how to marry post production and what’s being shot on set. All we can do is keep utilizing the technology and see where it takes us in the future.”

What have you learned on this project that you will bring to your next?

“It has given me a better understanding of the connection between the people on set and how our work affects each other, as well as how important communication and good infrastructure is when it comes to working remotely with artists sitting all over the world. Understanding that this remote workflow is something that is really beneficial for artists globally, and freelance work is now a lot easier than ever before.”

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