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KromA Drives Home a Winner for Ford Trucks

CG Effects Sparkle in Spot About a NASCAR Fan?s Dream (April 26, 2005)

KromA put an ordinary guy behind the wheel of a NASCAR racer in an amusing new spot for Ford Trucks and Detroit agency J. Walter Thompson. The visual effects and animation studio combined images of real cars with CG vehicles in telling the story of a race fan whose ultimate dream almost turns into a nightmare.

Trading Places opens on an office worker playing with a model of NASCAR champion Kurt Buschs Ford Taurus. Suddenly, the man finds himself in the drivers seat of the real thing, barreling around a race track with a dozen other cars before a sea of cheering fans. As a pit crew barks instructions into his headset, the man becomes alarmed and tries to pull over, causing a multi-car pile up. As another car comes flying toward his windshield, the man snaps out of his reverie and finds himself back behind his desk. The voice-over suggests that while you may not be able to handle Buschs racing vehicle, ?you can drive a truck built by those same engineers.

The race sequence is made up of a combination of CG and practical elements. The track itself is real as are some of the cars. Other cars, including often the hero car, are CG. The fans who fill the stadium are also digital additions.


CG cars were used in the crash sequence and for other scenes involving harrowing action. ?We used the CG cars to do the things that werent safe to do with real cars, explained KromA visual effects supervisor Bert Yukich. ?We also added cars to the background to fill out the race pack in a way that wouldnt have been practical or safe in production.

Artists used a CG stand in for the hero car when they wanted to make its motion seem jitterier to indicate than an inexperienced driver is at the wheel. Additionally, they replaced half the car with a digital element in a close up that occurs after a collision to show that its side is dented.

For close-ups of the hapless man inside the car, the talent was shot in a mock-up of the vehicle against green screen. KromA set views of the track environment into the windows of the car and tracked them to the vehicles motion so that it seems to be traveling at 200 m.p.h.

Those shots required extensive detailing. Reflections were added to windows. Artists also filled out the rig with CG safety gear to match the interior of the real car. In the penultimate moment of the racing sequence, when the man fears he is about to be crushed by a toppling car, a reflection of his terrorized faced can be glimpsed in the windshield

One of the more clever sequences occurs early on in the commercial when reality gives way to fantasy. As the guy rolls the toy car along his desk, the camera pulls into a close up and follows the car. When the camera pulls back, the car is now on the track and the man is inside.

Motion blur and camera shake help to mask the cut from desk to track, but what really makes the trick work is what KromA did with the car. At the beginning of the shot, artists swapped out the toy car for the CG model and carried it through to the track. ?Its the same car in both shots, explained Yukich. ?It fools the eye into thinking there is no cut.

The 3D elements were created via SoftImage XSI. Compositing and final post were accomplished on an Avid Nitris DS.

Amy Yukich was executive producer for KromA.

KromA is located at 9421&1/2 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035.  For more information, call 310-282-0370 or visit www.kroma.biz

Credits

Commercial Title:          ?Trading Spaces

Client:                           Ford Racing

Agency:                        J. Walter Thompson, Detroit.  Tom Cordner, Executive Creative Director; Carole Gall, Director of Broadcast Production; Mike Prieb, Lauren Crane, Suzanne Sadek and John Godsey, Creative Directors; Kelly Trudell, Producer; Suzanne Sadek, Art Director; John Godsey, Writer; Samer Ajluni, Business Manager; Steve Hutchison, Account Supervisor.

Production Company:   Believe Media Jaume Collet-Serra Director: Gerard Cantor Executive Producer: Todd Stefani Production Manager: Rob Buono Production Designer:

Editorial House:            Module Zero Media, Venice, Calif. Jaime Valdueza, Editor.    

Colorist:                       Company 3, Santa Monica. Mike Pethel (CO3)

Visual Effects:               KromA, Los Angeles.   Bert Yukich, visual effects supervisor/compositor; Amy Yukich, executive producer.       

Music:                          Genuine Music

Mix Studio:                   Eleven Sound, Santa Monica, Calif. Jeff Fuller Mixer

Shoot Locations:           Fontana Raceway

Driver:                          Bobby Unser

V/O:                             Jason Hildebrandt

Casting Director:           The Casting Cafe

First Air Date:               04/10/2005


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Related Keywords:KromA , Bert Yukich

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