As part of a 32-million Euro rebrand campaign, Portuguese mobile company, Optimus, has created a glowing commercial with the help of Partizan and Prime Focus, who were brought on board to provide the commercial’s key ingredient – the 3D magma.
The spot sees aspirational young people playing with fluid spheres of orange magma in a variety of city settings. The magma passes between them as a metaphor for fun communication. As it gets playfully passed around, it creates a warm glow around the people who are handling it and their environments.
The project was awarded to Prime Focus following a competitive pitch, which was partly won due to consideration of Prime Focus large scale and infrastructure. The project contains visual effects in every shot, so it required a huge volume of work - the 3D alone was over 50 operator days of work.
Prime Focus 3D and 2D teams, led by Cristobal Infante and Tim Davies respectively, set the glowing magma look by creating the necessary 3D elements in the most flexible way possible. This entailed using multiple 3D passes so that the magma’s glow, texture and general behaviour could be further manipulated in the Flame suite whilst the client was on-hand to give immediate feedback.
R&D included creating pre-production tests by shooting rough footage in the Flame suite with light-emitting balls as props. A similar prop idea was subsequently used on the Argentinian shoot which was supervised by 3D artist, Cristobal Infante. As a result, some natural light from the prop was captured in-camera, especially in darker scenarios, but more often than not, the resultant light had to be created in Flame by Tim Davies. The client loved the final results so much that they asked for the magma and its glow to be present in every shot.
Cristobal said: "Our goal was to create flowing balls of magma that moved in a slow and beautiful manner. After some initial rules were set about its size, we realized these would have to become more flexible because the magma’s behaviour would be dictated by the actors’ movements. We developed a system for controlling its weight, size, proportions and speed by using rigged metaballs. We experimented with different rigs in order to control its overall structure and ended up using several different rigs when the magma’s movement became quite complex. We captured HDR (high dynamic range) images on each set to integrate the 3D magma into the real-life scenes. This was crucial to keep the lighting and reflections believable and consistent across all the shots."
Prime Focus Flame artist, Tim Davies, said: "This job was all about setting the correct ambient look by blending the supplied 3D into the live-action and using different passes to control levels of colour and texture. The latest Flame 2008 software helped keep the whole project organized on a multilayer timeline allowing me concentrate more on developing the shots."
Project: Optimus 'Magma'
Agency: Euro RSCG Portugal
Creatives: Tiago Rebelo, Paulo Pinto
Agency Producer: Joao Vassalo
Production Company: Partizan
Director: Patrik Bergh
Prod Co Producer: Emily Crofton
Production Manager: Jenny Beckett