Hectic Electric takes the dark war FPS theme to an unexpected extreme
for a TV spot.
CGSociety :: Production Focus
4 November 2008, by Paul Hellard
This spot was created to illustrate the wide range of games available at the client's warehouse. So many to choose from. Just make sure you choose the right one.
The story is based on a storyboard and reference pics from the agency, Minivegas took it from there, they wrote a treatment and start working on the concept design and animatic. In the mean time we started preparing at HecticElectric. Maarten Boon, the CG Supervisor at Hectic Electric in Amsterdam takes up the story.
"The goal was to make two believable characters. They both had to be mean, but then one had to transform from a badass killer to a sweet and clumsy 'Singstar'. Because this commercial was so short, it was very important the characters could be recognizable and that you wouldn't mix up the two," Boon says. "That's why we made them differently styled and size. The viewer still had to believe they both existed in the same world."
The CG style had to convince the audience that they are watching a game. But the Hectic Electric crew were free to play around with the quality level to make it look like a new, upcoming game. They used displacement maps and full SSS instead of normal maps. They tried a lot of camera views because in games they are always very typical and not made to tell a story in 25 seconds.
We had to combine all the establishing shots normally put into a 3D short into one, where the camera was attached to the leading character, emulating in-game 3D graphics. I think this perfectly established the game feel. Once the character starts to sing, we could continue to use a more cinematic-based camera style to finish the story.
Hectic Electric created the Singstar commercial together with a directors collective called Minivegas. Minivegas also runs a studio in London.
In fact, besides the directing, Minivegas was responsible for the animatic, the concept design and they modeled the crazy armour parts for the Singstar character.
Minivegas brought in the Brownlee brothers to create concept art for the spot. After a couple of drawing sets we had a good base to start modeling. The rest of the commercial was created at our office in Amsterdam.
Modeling "In the meantime our creature designer generated more detailed heads," explains Maarten Boon. "After this, we started modeling and sculpting the heads. They were finished really quick but the overall feel from the body proportions and armour was still a bit too standard.
It's very important to add extra little details in a spot to keep people surprised, even after they've seen it ten times. So in the last two days of the modeling phase we decided on a huge update to both the characters, to make them even more grotesque and bizarre.
This included changing from the humanoid legs of the shooter into goat legs, and we also changed all the details of the Singstar. Have you already noticed the dogs head?"
The Hectic crew had a bit more than four weeks to produce the spot and compositing took five days. "This is extremely short cos we had a lot of parallel processes going on. We initially focused on developing the Singstar character because he was the most important one. We created a simple rig so we could start to block the animation and we updated the animatic with the new character. In the meantime we rigged the Shooter. We created a final rig for him straight away because his movements were simple."
Sculpt and Render
We sculpted 15 blend shapes for the Singstar and 10 for the Shooter. Once the animations where done, they were cached and prepared for rendering. "We always try to do a beauty pass, together with a lot of RGB passes. That's so we can control all the separate elements in compositing. This time we also rendered color, diffuse and shadow passes to obtain more freedom in lighting in Flame. We tried multiple different grades for the Singstar's character armor and skin tone."
Hectic Electric is a postproduction company based in Amsterdam since 1999, working on commercial and feature film projects. At Hectic Amsterdam, there are eight 3D artists in the core team. They work with international freelancers depending on the type of project. In the first years Hectic specialized in creating photorealistic CG work, in addition to the live action films. There's now a growing demand for entire CG productions and animation. "We work normally in small teams on several projects at the same time," says Maarten Boon. "Loving every minute of it of course."
Creatives: Stan van Zon and Gido van der Vlies
Concept Art: Brownlee brothers Hectic Electric
Creature modeler: Jelmer Boskma
Character TD: Martijn Grootendorst
Animator: Daniel Callaby
Modeler: Koen Hofmeester
Render & Lighting artist: Robbert Lubken
CG supervisor: Maarten Boon
Intern: Jean-Paul Tossings
Compositor: Sven de Jong