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STEELE VFX Acts as Quick Change Artist for The Gap

Henry artist Monique Eissing smooths multiple composites (June 17, 2004)

STEELE VFX used ?invisible effects techniques to assist with a series of quick costume changes in two new spots for The Gap. Conceived by the retailers in-house creative team, the commercials promote summer fashions for women. One spot shows a woman performing turns on a beach while modeling several sheer skirts. In the second spot, a different woman peels off a series of layered tops.

To achieve the look that The Gap was after, STEELE VFX Henry artist Monique Eissing combined foreground and background elements from separate telecine passes. ?Virtually every scene in the two spots is a composite, Eissing explained. ?In most instances, the talent, the sky and sand were derived from different passes so that both the talent and the background environments appear crisp, clean and beautifully lit.

Creating the composites was no simple task. Changing the brightness of a film frame not only affects how things look, but it makes differences in the apparent size of elements within the frame. This makes it difficult to combine elements from different passes of the same scene.

?Shadows tend to bleed into the light, explained Eissing. ?As a result, when you attempt to composite a foreground element from a relatively light pass into the background from a darker pass, you can wind up with a halo around the person or object.

Preventing such ?halos from surrounding the talent in The Gap spots required careful work. Eissing had to paint over the affected area or create a moving mask around the character. As the skirt spot alone included some 27 different cuts, Eissing faced a sizeable task. ?That is the kind of effects work that we are known for, she said. ?The imagery looks as if it is unaffected, and yet the look is perfect, more perfect than anything in real life.

STEELE VFX is located at 1437 Seventh Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. For more information, call (310) 656-7770 or visit


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