Engine goes platinum

07 January, 2010 by IF

Press release from Engine and Well Above

According to director Marcelle Lunam, the recent Platinum TVC she completed with Engine embodies the full range of the company’s creative abilities. “It was an intense five week job,” said Lunam. “Engine really pulled out all the stops and the results speak for themselves.”


The Platinum spot became Engine’s latest TVC project after a discussion between the company’s Executive Producer Adam Wells, Marcelle Lunam and production company Plush Films.

Lunam continued, “I’ve worked with Adam and Engine for many years and know the high standard of work I can expect. Adam and I discussed the script along with Plush producer, Catherine Warner, then I set off to do a treatment.”

Lunam collaborated closely with Engine VFX Supervisor Grant Everett in creating her treatment.

Everett said, “We took our lead from Marcelle. The concept for this commercial was to visually illustrate a connection between the Platinum vine as it lifts and supports the Platinum woman ending in a dramatic reveal of the Platinum pack.

The TVC was also about cleverly combining design and creative so we built 3D crystals and the vine in Maya to support Marcelle’s treatment. This way the client could see what the final look would be very early in the piece.”

With Engine’s 3D visuals Lunam presented her treatment and storyboard to both client and agency.

Lunam added, “The Brand Shop and Kimberley-Clarke really liked the treatment and visuals. They were confident in Engine’s abilities, our proof of concept and proof of execution. I’m happy to say at that point Engine won the pitch.”

Working closely with Lunam and Everett were Engine’s Head of 3D Nick Kaloterakis and Lead Compositor Kent Smith. With Marcelle Lunam’s unique treatment to accurately execute the Engine team had to use all of their creative skill and resources to combine 3D, live action and environmental matte paintings.

Everett continued, “The live action was shot on a Phantom camera at 1000+ frames per second. Phantom files are unique so we had to create a specific data pipeline for the cine files and apply different grades in Smoke. It was a tricky process and we did a lot of testing the make sure we got the best quality images and keys.”

Whilst one half of the team worked with the live action and matte paintings Nick Kaloterakis and his 3D department worked simultaneously on building the 3D assets for the spot.

Kaloterakis said, “The 3D was driven from the creative brief, designs and treatment with Marcelle’s influence. We had to offer a very flexible approach and there were many challenges to overcome. In a spot of this nature there are always lots of changes and a very involved creative process so we had to be able to deal with these. There was lots of texturing and overlays and we had to make sure the look of the vines was metallic and not plastic, all the while creating a lightness within the frame to avoid it looking too heavy.”

A good working relationship between director, agency, production company, client and the Engine team played a big part in the rapid approvals process which was required due to the tight timeframe according to Everett. “As the initial frame was received so well by the client it was easier to get ahead of the curve when creating assets,” he said. “This was vital, as to get the animation feel and the live action looking right was complex and labour intensive. There was a great deal of work in the laying out of the vines and every single leaf had to be framed precisely by Marcelle.”

The interaction of the female model’s hands and feet with the vines also posed challenges for the Engine team. Lunam’s treatment and the agency’s direction meant a gentle caress had to be achieved. “We made sure that it didn’t look like Jack and the Beanstalk,” added Everett. “This was harder than it looks. “The background was matte painted with Particular and the stars were made to float around in a choreographed manner. We also created the dust around the model and matte painted most of the grass after having shot a small patch. The grass was also roto’d and graded for depth to create a big field feel.”

The compositing involved several time ramps from 1000 fps to 100 fps and back to 1000 fps. “This was to create drama,” added Kent Smith. “We also had to do a lot of test positioning of the interaction frames with the 3D team. There was a lot of work around the camera moves and making sure the 3D matched the live action. This was tricky as we couldn’t move the camera a great deal due to the 1000+ frame rate so it had to be accommodated in compositing.”

The Engine team layered all of the stars and the camera moves around them helping to create the environment that also included the grass and sky all being re-graded to silver in order to have the same look as the vines.

Marcelle Lunam concluded, “Platinum was a very involved spot. The wide shot alone had over 600 individual leaves and vines that Engine had to take care of. There was lots of fine hair to be keyed, clothing enhancements and cosmetic changes to the model including extending her fingernails and altering her skin. Bringing in the 3D was a complex task as was matching everything to the style frames. There were also lots of complexities and subtleties combining metal, glass and tissue papers to make sure everything looked metallic, light and textured. In my opinion, the Engine team delivered a stunning result that both client and agency were very happy with. I’d like to add they’re also great to work with and whilst it was challenging to do in the time we had, they made it enjoyable – and that’s a big plus.”

Both 15 and 30 second Platinum TVCs are currently airing nationally across Australia and New Zealand.

To see the Platinum TVC go to www.ubykotex.com.au/platinum.