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The Syndicate Creates VFX For SanDisk

"Slide" and "Rice" showcase all-white environments and colorful casts (June 11, 2004)

All-white backgrounds provided unusual visual effects challenges for The Syndicate in two spots, "Slide" and "Rice," for SanDisk's flash memory cards directed by Tony Kaye for EuroRSCG/Messner, San Francisco.

"We worked with the agency team and with Tony (Kaye) to create a slightly surreal, fantastical environment for these spots," says The Syndicate vfx producer Kim Evans. "Creating this look entailed rotoscoping, set extensions, clean-up and color correction. The effects in the spots are so seamless and so integral to the story that the average viewer will never know that anything was manipulated in post."

Both commercials are set against pristine, pure white environments. In "Slide," colorfully-attired kids are having the time of their lives at a birthday party, slithering down a huge, gracefully-curved slide and enjoying birthday cake, balloons, a white pony, a white-painted carrousel, a performer in a polar bear suit, a clown, and a magician.

"This is the card that goes in the phone that captures the pictures of the wildest party in town," says the voice-over. The giant slide terminates in an arrow point at a big door in the same square shape as the SanDisk disk featured in the end-tag. As the party guests filter out the door, the spot concludes and the end-tag appears.

VFX supervisor Kevin Prendiville consulted with Kaye during pre-production and was on the set to ensure that the performances didn't stray too far off the set and that the partygoers didn't spend too much time behind the pole that supported the sweeping slide structure. Nevertheless, The Syndicate encountered a number of challenges in postproduction.

"It was very daring to film on an all-white cyc," Prendiville notes. "Tony shot a lot handheld, roving around with the camera, so there were lots of shadows. We did a great deal of work to restore the white background and make the cyc look really white. We cleaned kids' footsteps from the floor, removed shadows and selectively restored others."

Visual effects were performed by Prendiville, with MB on Flame, and Christine Goldby and graphics assistants David Hochstadter and Lee Robinson on Flame and Combustion. In addition to tidying up the environment, they did some set extension of the slide and white limbo and removed the slide's supporting pole. Prendiville also composited shots of a clown doing a handstand.

In "Rice," a rather unconventional wedding reception is underway. "This is the card that goes in the camera that captures the moments that might be a little fuzzy the next day," says the voice-over. Central to this all-white set are a grand staircase and white chandelier. The groom is dressed in a white suit while his bride wears a funky gown with green ruffled collar and hem; her bridesmaids are also eccentrically attired. The colorful bridal party and their guests form a conga line, which snakes its way up the staircase and exits, along with the caterers and an enormous three-tiered wedding cake, through a square, SanDisk-shaped door.

Prendiville's team extended the white limbo set as well as the chain of the chandelier, which was basically hanging from a rope. They toned-down the garish color of the wedding dress and the women's make-up and made the bridesmaids' big hair less bouffant. In addition, they used Flame to clone the crowd who was milling around in the background.

"Tony Kaye's art direction was uniquely beautiful," noted Kim Evans. "These spots had a great deal of energy, fun, diversity, individuality."

About The Syndicate
The Syndicate (1207 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, CA), (, a division of the ComputerCafe Group (Santa Maria, CA), is a 25-person VFX and telecine studio specializing in all aspects of final picture delivery, compositing and CGI for commercials and music videos. The company combines CaféFX's award-winning CGI and VFX studio with The Syndicate's three veteran partners: telecine artist Beau Leon, LA; executive producer Ken Solomon; and director of new business Leslie Sorrentino.

For more information visit

Credit Information:
SanDisk Project Type: commercial
Project Title: "Rice," "Slide"
Release/Air Date: PLS ADD

Ad Agency: EuroRSCG/Messner Acct. Supervisor: Adam Harris Creative Director: Doug Penman Copywriter: Lori Bredel Art Director: Ernie Lageson Agency Producer: David Verhoef

Production Company/Studio: Supply & Demand/LA Director: Tony Kaye Executive Producer: Time Case, Kent Eby Producer: Dana Garman

Effects & On-line Facility: The Syndicate/Santa Monica VFX Supervisor: Kevin Prendiville VFX Producer: Kim Evans Executive Producer: Kenny Solomon Roto: David Hochstadter, Lee Robinson Flame Effects/Artist: Kevin Prendiville, MB Emigh, Christine Goldby

Editorial Services Co.: Lost Planet/Santa Monica Editor: Hank Corwin Assistant Editor: Tyler Corwin Producer: CL Weaver


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Related Keywords:The Syndicate, VFX, SanDisk, Tony Kaye, Kim Evans, rotoscoping, set extension, clean-up, color correction, Kevin Prendiville, Visual effects, Christine Goldby, David Hochstadter, Lee Robinson, Flame, Combustion, ComputerCafe Group, EuroRSCG/Messner,

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