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Steele Draws a Crowd for Cingular and AT&T Wireless

STEELE, Inc. filled a soccer stadium with 40,000 rabidly screaming fans in providing a large package of visual effects and post services for a new spot promoting the merger of Cingular and AT&T Wireless. Combining motion control cinematography with its unparalleled expertise in compositing, the studio replicated a few hundred extras dozens of times and distributed them around the sprawling stadium to create the illusion of an overflow crowd. Subtle lighting and color correction enhancements were used to finalize the seamless, perfectly integrated effect.

Los Angeles agency Mendoza Dillon created the spot for airing on Spanish-language outlets in the United States and Mexico to promote the coming together of Cingular and AT&T Wireless. In the spot, a soccer stadium is half filled with fans adorned in AT&T Wireless blue, and half filled with fans dressed in Cingulars trademark orange. As the game proceeds, fans begin running around the stadium until blue and orange fans are equally mixed. Bright blue banners unfurrowed by the crowd form the familiar wireless signal strength bar graph.

STEELE played an integral role in both the production and post production of the spot. Visual effects supervisor Brian Adler helmed second unit at a soccer stadium near Mexico City, planning and shooting 500 extras. The production team filmed more than 40 plates of the extras seated around the stadium in order to construct in post the wide angle view of the packed venue. ?We designed the shots so that the crowd could be composited into different parts of the stadium, Adler explained. ?We used a Milo motion control rig to shoot each element so that we could employ camera motion and make the effects shots more fluid and dynamic.

Post work was conducted by supervising visual effects artist Jerry Steele, who composited the various plates of the extras with clean shots of the stadium and the surrounding sky. ?The plates of the extras took 12 hours to shoot and as a result the lighting varied widely, recalled Steele. ?The biggest compositing challenge was correcting for the variations in light as the sun moved across the sky throughout the day.  We completed the effect by performing a final color correction pass so that the final composite appears to have been a single in-camera shot.

Steele pulled off a similar illusion to create the effect of the banners that form the signal strength graph. He replicated and then modified a shot of a single banner being unwound to create the pattern of five banners of diminishing length. Steele used both Quantel Henry and Quantel EQ systems to work the compositing magic. Credits for STEELE go to Jo Steele, senior executive producer; Brian Adler, executive producer/visual effects supervisor; Jerry Steele, supervising visual effects artist. 

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



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