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Tree House Edit
CHICAGO - Filmworkers helped Chicago agency DDB recapture the thrills experienced by visitors to Chicago's 1893 World's Fair in a new ad campaign for The Field Museum…
The campaign promotes the Museum's current exhibit marking the 120th anniversary of the Fair and featuring artifacts from the landmark event. One spot offers an over-the-shoulder view of a boy riding the Fair?s famous Ferris wheel (designed by engineer George Ferris) and looking out across the Exposition grounds. "See what he saw!" exhorts the voiceover, "The wonders of the 1893 World's Fair." A second spot shows a similar view of a woman gazing at a mammoth dynamo as an electrical arc causes her hair to stand on end.
Filmworkers VFX Director Rob Churchill directed the spots. The boy and the woman seen in the foregrounds of the two ads were costumed actors. The background environments were constructed from historical still photographs and CGI elements. Churchill used a series of archival photos to create the Exposition grounds and a computer editing system to arrange them in 3D space. Virtual camera movement created the illusion that the boy is rising in the air with the Ferris wheel.
"I painted in extra detail to reveal more of the buildings than can be seen in the photographs," explains Churchill, a classically-trained fine artist. "I used a map of the fairgrounds for reference to ensure accuracy."
To further the 3D illusion, Churchill added computer-animated flags into the background. He also added an animated model of an 'L' train. "They were called alley trains in those days," Churchill notes. "They had hoped to have them running to Jackson Park by the time of the fair, but they were actually ahead of schedule and the trains ran much farther. We thought it would be fun to add that in."
The second spot was created in a similar manner. Churchill created the dynamo from historical photographs and added CGI parts to simulate motion. A much more old school technique was employed to make the woman's hair stand on end. "We used the old rub-your-hair-with-a-balloon trick," says Churchill.
Churchill says that it was fun see the project through from beginning to end and to recreate one of the most memorable chapters in Chicago's history. "It was super fun," he recalls. "We were all excited. During the last take, everyone was cheering because it was all going so well."
CHICAGO - Filmworkers completed a “dream” assignment in handling the post work for DDB’s latest spot for State Farm.…
The spot is a sequel to an earlier ad in which Green Bay Packers quarterback and State Farm spokesman Aaron Rodgers found himself on a plane with Saturday Night Live alums George Wendt and Robert Smigel, cast in the role of Chicago Bears “Super Fans.”
State of Turbulence II (Dream) picks up where the earlier spot left off. Still on the plane, Rodgers has dozed off and, in a dream, sees himself transformed into a Packer Super Fan (complete with a super-sized double chin and belly). Wendt is also asleep and experiencing his own, albeit more pleasant, dream. He is lying on a massage table and is being tended to by a masseur played by former Bears coach Mike Dytka. Wendt is delighted to discover that his pillow is actually an oversized sausage. The spot debuted during Monday Night Football’s telecast of a Bears-Packers game on November 4th.
As with the earlier ad, Filmworkers performed final color grading, editorial compositing and visual effects. The latter included a retro, tongue-in-cheek visual effect introducing Wendt’s dream sequence where the screen turns to waves, then dissolves. Churchill also applied a halo effect to the scene in the massage room. “It’s the kind of effect they would have done in a Saturday Night Live sketch,” says Churchill, who created the effect on an Autodesk Flame Premium workstation.
Filmworkers has developed an efficient workflow for finishing spots for DDB and State Farm. It’s one of few facilities in the Midwest that provides high-end color grading, editorial finishing and visual effects services under one roof. The facility is thus able to turnaround even very complicated projects quickly, saving Chicago agencies the time and expense of traveling to one of the coasts for top quality post services.
CHICAGO – Filmworkers has contracted Nathan Skillicorn and his company Heart, Brains, & Nerve to serve as its sales representative in the Midwest. Skillicorn will represent Filmworkers and its affiliate, the hybrid production studio Vitamin for advertising projects…
Although Filmworkers and Vitamin are well established in Chicago and have strong relationships with local advertising agencies, Skillicorn sees tremendous opportunities for growth both by expanding those ties here and by reaching out to other markets. “Both Filmworkers and Vitamin have strong brands, great resources and excellent talent,” Skillicorn says. “Agencies that have worked with them, love them; agencies that haven’t, will.”
Skillicorn will promote all the various services offered by Filmworkers and Vitamin, which range from traditional post-production services such as visual effects, compositing and color grading, to design, graphics, animation and design driven production. He will also seek appropriate opportunities for other companies associated with Filmworkers, including creative retouching and pre-media specialist Giannini Creative.
Skillicorn launched Heart, Brains & Nerve in 2010 and represents commercial advertising and entertainment talent, including the production companies Big Deahl and The Artists Company. He also represents some of the industry’s top original animation, artful live action and creative digital talent through Free Agents-Patricia Claire Co., including Buck, Nexus, Passion Pictures, Elastic, Hornet, Pleix, Nexus Interactive Arts and Bossa Digital.
“I want to be a resource for creatives and producers by helping to facilitate their projects from beginning to end,” Skillicorn says. “Filmworkers and Vitamin provide post-production and design components that make it a good fit for my roster. I’m excited to be a part of the Filmworkers family.”
Heart, Brains & Nerve can be reached at Nathan@heartbrainsandnerve.com or 773.661.2188.
CHICAGO – Filmworkers colorist Fred Keller applied the final color grade to a new spot for State Farm that makes a point about life insurance through a touching graveside scene that’s not quite what it seems…
Conceived by DDB Chicago, the spot shows a father and his young daughter who, together under an umbrella, discuss the passing of “Mr. Goldman.” To the girl’s suggestion that the dear departed surely was protected by a State Farm life insurance policy, the father says, “No.” After all, Mr. Goldman was a fish. A pull-back, reveals a tiny headstone in the family backyard.
Keller helped to set up the joke by casting the scene in muted hues. “We wanted to reflect the mood and emotion by not letting it get too colorful or bright,” Keller explains, “but at the same time, it had to look beautiful.”
Keller applied special treatments to the actors’ facial features as well as to the marker about Mr. Goldman’s grave. “We wanted to emphasize the joke by making that pop,” he says.
CHICAGO - Filmworkers and Vitamin recently provided visual effects and post-production services for a new, national spot about a family of vampires who learn to love mornings thanks to Kellogg's Nutri-Grain…
Conceived by Leo Burnett, Chicago, the spot opens on a vampire couple who are interviewed in their suburban home. Admitting they weren't 'morning people,' the couple tells how their lives have been turned upside down by the crunchy taste of Nutri-Grain Fruit Crunch Bars. The whole family is now rising early and accomplishing much more. Dad even has time to walk the family bat.
The visual effects crews from Filmworkers and Vitamin contributed a number of effects to the spot, including a 3D bat that the vampire dad takes for a stroll. Vitamin artists went to great lengths to make the creature as realistic as possible and also drew inspiration from classic Hollywood vampire films.
"Real bats are not all that interesting because they move too fast," explains Vitamin Creative Director Danny DelPurgatorio. "Instead, we took our bat into a more theatrical world and gave it a playful movement, as if often done in movies."
Filmworkers applied additional effects work and also completed final post-production. Colorist Fred Keller applied the final color grade, using a Baselight system to give the spot a slightly macabre cast. "We gave it a vampire feel," Keller says, "There's not too much skin tone, but it still has an interesting color palette."
DelPurgatorio says that the cleverness of the spot's concept made it fun to work on. "It was a great idea," he observes. "Our work needed to be subtle and to blend into the overall vision."
DALLAS - Director Norry Niven's Chasing Shakespeare, which debuts this month at the Dallas International Film Festival, is an enchanting love story about a young Native American woman's search for her destiny and her widower husband's attempts to reunite with her after her death…
. Based on a screenplay by James Bird, the film features stunning performances from Danny Glover, Oscar-nomined Graham Greene, Chelsea Ricketts, Mike Wade and Ashley Bell, and delivers an emotional, dreamlike experience that is not to be missed.
A Texas native, Niven shot Chasing Shakespeare in rural regions of his home state. Although produced on a modest budget, the director says that the production benefitted from an exceptionally dedicated cast and crew, and serendipitous circumstances that he decribes as "a magic that defies logic." "If you were lucky enough to be on set during the filming, you saw it," he recalls. "It rained when it needed to and was sunny when we needed bright skies. On the night of our rooftop Tempest scene when it was supposed to have an electrical storm in the script...we had one on set, a storm so powerful that it struck my family's house, leaving us without power for days."
The charmed nature of the project carried through to post-production. In what proved to be a fortuitous choice, Niven selected Peter Tarter to edit the film. Tarter is a Dallas-based editor known for his work in commercials (He recently founded the commercial editing company Treehouse.), but he had not previously edited a feature. Still, Niven was impressed by his narrative skills and obvious enthusiasm for the project. "Peter dove in head first; with reckless abandon," Niven says, "because this is what he loves;telling stories."
Tarter's initial cut of the film ran nearly three hours. That was obviously too long and so he and Niven began working their way back through the story, looking for ways to trim and hone. That process involved some tough decisions. "I started taking out side stories that didn't move the story forward," Tarter recalls. "It was very hard to do because I was literally cutting characters out of the movie. Norry said it was like killing his babies and we really didn't want to kill a character. It was sad."
Tarter's editorial style runs deeper than simple storytelling. He employed a variety of techniques to enhance the emotional content of the film on subliminal and symbolic levels. "Peter understood clearly the need to get the subtle messages across on screen through Joseph Campbell's 'thresholds' which were visual and within the subtext," explains Niven. "So you see doorways, arches, fence lines, lines of tombstones, building ledges, even the edge of the roof of a farm house, all built into the editorial story. That tells you more than the words do about the characters and their individual journeys."
Niven adds that Tarter heightened the ephemeral quality that time has in the film by 'cutting on action' during shifts from flashbacks to current time. "Peter knew the story completely and could feel the characters throughout his process, which brought so much more to the screen than any ordinary film cutter could have," Niven observes. "No other editor would have been able to walk that fine line."
Tarter says that he developed a deep emotional attachment to the film. He notes that he was moved in particular by the film's opening deathbed scene as it reminded him of the recent passing of his mother. "I identified with the sensitivities of saying goodbye to a dying parent," he says. "Being there in the room, watching as they try to hang on, but also relieved that it is over."
Tarter believes that many people will share his response to the film's timeless narrative. "It's a beautiful love story," he observes. "People from eight to eighty can watch this film and enjoy it. There's not a lot of cursing, not a lot of sex; it's just pure love."
In addition to its upcoming debut at the 2013 Dallas International Film Festival, Chasing Shakespeare has been accepted into the First Glance Film Fest (Hollywood), the Artisan Festival International (Cannes and the Hamptons), and the Big Island Film Festival (Hawaii). It is a Special Selection at the Montreal International Black Film Festival (where Danny Glover will attend the screening). The film will be honored at WorldFest- Houston International Film Festival. It recently won the Title Design award at South by Southwest.