Font Size

- Aa +

Wed 15 Apr 2009 04:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

It’s all in the game

Optix Digital adds a touch of class to TVCs for Doritos Pepsico and Sony with Maya and Flame.

It’s all in the game
It’s all in the game
Several models of cars and dinosaurs were created before they decided on the ones they liked the best, says Firas Ershead, 3D head at Optix Digital.
It’s all in the game
Several models of cars and dinosaurs were created before they decided on the ones they liked the best, says Firas Ershead, 3D head at Optix Digital.
It’s all in the game
3D head Firas Ershead flanked by facility manager Brian Shepherd (l) and Flame artist, Michael Welz (r).

Optix Digital adds a touch of class to TVCs for Doritos Pepsico and Sony with Maya and Flame.

Dubai-based post production facility Optix Digital recently put together an animated sequence for a Doritos Pepsico commercial. Although the CGI sequence is only a three-second portion of the 30-second commercial, the labour that went into creating it is worthy of mention.

The commercial is about a group of youngsters who come across the perfect place to play their playstation - a building wall on which they can project their game and play it. Optix Digital's role was to design a game sequence that would be projected onto the wall.

"We had a storyboard for the live action sequence but we did the CG part," explains Firas Ershead, head of 3D at Optix Digital. "The game sequence shows two cars jumping over the cliff and at the horizon, a dinosaur tries to stop the cars but they escape."

Optix Digital's first objective was to create a few options for a car and a dinosaur for the sequence. "We needed to design two or three different elements and options for each element as well. In this case, we created four different designs of a dinosaur and a car. The client luckily went for the modern and futuristic looking car we designed.

There was a bit of concern about the colour of the dinosaur as it would eventually be placed in another environment that had a reflective surface and it would take on the colours of the environment by default. However, this was not an issue as we had full control over the colours should anyone not like the end result," explains Ershead.

Once the art work was approved, the team then modelled the car and the dinosaur in 3D on Maya.

"The advantage of 3D is that you can see it from different angles. Once the models were approved, we began to animate the models. As in all cases of rigging, we created controllers to control each element of the car separately. It was important to ensure that the wheels of the car moved accurately in relation to the whole body of the car. The important thing was to ensure that it looked convincing to the viewer," Ershead adds.Simultaneously, work was ongoing to create the environment in which these characters would be placed. "Not many people know that even three seconds of a scene takes two weeks to finish and with four people working on it. It's all about the quality you want. This project could have been done faster but you might compromise on the environment, which might not be just as rich and the cast might not look as realistic," he explains.

Of course, the project did not come without its technical challenges. It is here that a technical director's expertise comes into play.

"I'm a computer science graduate. I use my programming skills to create design tools inside Maya to create a fast pipeline. For instance, we exported a tool from Maya to the compositing software we use -- which is After Effects -- to make the sand look like it was coming out of the tyre. This helped the particle system to actually track each layer and make it look very convincing," explains Ershead.

"Maya is like a platform that is open to any additional tools. This is where this software is different and more flexible than something like 3ds Max," explains Ershead.

Once the rigging was completed, the project was then handed over to Michael Welz, the Flame artist at Optix.

Welz' role was to take the sequence created by the CGI team and project it onto the wall. He had to primarily create a projector and recreate the light and smoke as if it was coming out of the projector and also recreate a clean wall to project the game.

Two different buildings were photographed from the same angle for this purpose.

"We shot a man running across a wall in the first instance," explains Welz. "We shot another building from the same angle in the second instance. I wiped out the windows from the building to make it look like it had a plain wall so that the game could be projected on it. A lot of compositing was required to put it all together and change each element in the foreground and the background."

There's only a short sequence in the commercial to show for all of this effort. However, the TVC has become all the more memorable because of this sequence.