R!OT Stirs up a Plague of Pests for Expedia.com

Fri 11th Oct 2002 | News

Santa Monica, CA — Artists from R!OT employed their best 2D and 3D visual effects skills to work the bugs into a new 30-second spot for Expedia.com. A team of three compositors and a computer animator created the effect of swarms of flying insects that menace a pair of vacationers in the clever ad, conceived by Deutsch, Los Angeles. The spot shows how the web travel service’s research tools can help people keep from being stung by the wrong travel choice.

Titled Mosquito Net, the commercial opens on a woman exploring hotel choices on Expedia.com as a phrase in one listing catches her eye. "Mosquito nets in every room." The woman imagines herself and her husband in a tropical hideaway and awakening in the middle of the night to find themselves besieged by insects. The image prompts the woman to look for alternate accommodations.

"Use of the flash-forward comedic sequencing really brings home the point that as fast as the consumer can think of travel variables, Expedia can provide the options and solutions," said Eric Hirshberg, managing partner and executive creative director at Deutsch. "This spot depicts the breadth and depth of Expedia’s travel tools and demonstrates how easy it is for consumers to find and book the ideal hotel for their needs."

R!OT’s role in the project primarily center on the mosquitoes and other airborne pests featured in the Central American sequence. Some of bugs were shot live, but most were added in post production

Individual mosquitoes, flies and grasshoppers were created via one of three distinct techniques. Background bugs were produced in mass by R!OT’s Dominic Daigle using the 3D package XSI. Flying insects seen in closer views were produced as 3D elements by R!OT animators who produced insect models based on photographs of different species. Stationary bugs resting on the mosquito netting that surrounds the couple’s bed were derived from real insects shot in camera or against blue screen and composited onto the net.

Verdi Sevenhuysen worked with fellow compositors Stefano Trivelli and Claus Hansen in integrating each of the various insect elements into the live action scene. "They worked extremely hard to perfect the effect, adding bugs, taking bugs away. They were quick and creative and always delivered what we asked for," said FilmCore’s Gordon Carey, who edited the spot. "They did a great job of creating a traveler’s worst nightmare."

Carey was similarly impressed with computer animator Dominic Daigle’s work in creating the 3D bugs. "They animated characters are incredibly lifelike; it’s impossible to distinguish them from the live insects," he said. "That, to me, is a sign of Dominic’s skill as an artist and the time he spent in researching how real mosquitoes look and move."

R!OT used its entire team of Inferno artists and used various light, shadow and coloring techniques to achieve a seamless blend.

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