Making a Splashing Impact

The Skinny Using experience gained from previous water simulation projects MFX proudly adds the new Olympus 1050sw “Splash” TVC to their showreel. Working closely with director Brad Hogarth from Passion Pictures, the “Splash” commercial showcases complex realistic 3D liquid and lighting effects with stunning in camera water visuals. The film follows the Olympus 1050sw camera on an epic journey as it falls from the sky past structural highways and into a river. To achieve the required camera speeds for the commercial, Passion Pictures used the Photo Sonics 35mm 4BR advanced camera, which was able to run up to 1250 fps. The Production The task was to make the unnatural event of the Olympus 1050sw camera’s huge splash as it plunged into the river look realistic. Even though the falling Olympus 1050sw camera was added in the computer, Brad wanted the film to be edgy and have soul – not look like a heavy post-production film as this approach was more engaging than a glossy, spiritless execution. The river under the freeway location was chosen to give the film more character and texture. Brad liked the idea of placing the event in an urban environment not a cliché scenic background. This along with the traffic, graffiti and subtle hints of the surrounding cityscape helped to give the simple story of the falling camera more depth. The DOP Conrad Slack ASC came in a week before shoot during the rig tests and initial location studies ensuring there were no surprises on the day of shoot. Apart from the obvious weather concerns there was the added problem of the river level dropping, luckily on the day preceding shoot it rained heavily. Passion Pictures also commissioned local street artists VLT Crew to paint the ‘shock’ mural on the pillar. On the one-day shoot, large metal objects were photographed falling into the river for the splashing effects along with the sky, overpass and car scenes. Later that day, the shoot was moved into a studio and there, shots of scaled under water explosions were done in a tank. Additionally, the Olympus 1050sw was shot underwater, which was then used as a lighting reference for the 3D build. The Post Chan Moon Choong, VFX supervisor explains, “Because the initial impact and splash scene was built using several shots of different sized metal plates being dropped, the cables holding them were cleaned up and the water elements then combined to form the final splash volume and impact of the falling Olympus 1050sw. The background was reconstructed using different shots originated from high-resolution digital stills and film (2K scanned). Ken, our matte painter also worked on enhancing the visual details of the background.” Brad was looking for something special in the final scene where the Olympus 1050sw camera captures a flash shot underwater. This underwater scene was created using a combination of close up high-speed water splashes and Computer Generated underwater effects. MFX added the CG caustics, water bubbles, particles and lighting effects so that the Olympus 1050sw blended seamlessly into the underwater environment. MFX had to ensure that the water effects were rendered in extreme slow motion to match the live action footage. Moon Choong adds, “We were aware of the level of complexity when we took the brief. Our technical tests began very early on in the schedule. The compositing team took 7-10 days to complete the finished commercial inclusive of the test processes.” Tan Lee Chia, head of 3D continues, “When rendering brushed metal objects in 3D, the surface can appear to look like noise in the final render. To solve this problem we used Metal Shader when creating the textures for the model of the Olympus 1050sw camera, which was then rendered at full 2K resolution. On the shoot, we photographed a reflective chrome ball to create a HDR (high dynamic range) environment map. The HDR image essentially provided the real-world lighting data for our 3D integration with live-action.” ASIAIMAGE



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