Thursday, May 2, 2013

QnA with David Chontos about Psyop's "EARTH DAY “RETHINK BUTTS” ad.

A little while ago Psyop finished this excellent PSA entitled "Earth day Rethink butts" with Butler Bros.   for "Legacy For Health".

 The ad challenges our ideas of scale taking us from a micro to macro world all within a single shot. As  usual the psyop team put out a beautiful spot, even if the subject matter is anything but.

 I got the chance to talk a little bit with David Chontos, who not only directed the piece, but was also responsible for much of the work on the spot.

First off, amazing work, and thank you so much for taking the time out to chat.

About how long did the project run, about how many people ,  and what was your roll ?

 We finished the pitch at the beginning of February, and delivered the job on March 8. For this type of job, it was a pretty fast turn around, given both the amount of FX and the fact that it's one seamless 30-second shot. The whole team was 11 people. I am the Director, but I also am very involved in the CG, working on textures, lighting and some of the FX.

 How much Directorial Control did psyop have over the project. You guys tend to lend such amazing Creative to projects. I can only imagine "Legacy for Health" let you take full creative control .

 We were provided with the script and a full explanation of the concept, and worked alongside the agency (Butler Bros) to arrive at the final product. The script and the concept were both so fantastic and straightforward that we were free to concentrate on the design and production.

 Can you talk a little bit about the modeling and design of the "factory" ... was that mostly inhouse design and worked up as 3d? Did you do any zbrush/mudbox sculpting for the design. or was it more of a 2D process and then realized in 3D?

 The original styleframe was created by myself and one of our fantastic Designers, Lilit Hayrapetyan. We worked together to build and texture a 3d model, then do some paint and comp work on top of the rendered image. We worked entirely from reference and made interchangeable pieces that we could move around interactively.

There are lot of gloopy liquids in the beginning. How were those achieved ( real flow?softimage ice trees ? ) Were you able to do any "reusing" of pre existing sims and rework them from tube to tube?
 There Is also an excellent button , right before the reveal where a bit of structure/ash that drops, was that simmed or hand animated? ( looks like some nice cloth animation in there as well )

 All the liquids were simulated using RealFlow by Jason Mortimer, our FX Artist on the job. There were also a variety of 2D Fluid effects projected on the surface of the water to help give it more motion and detail. Each sim was unique due to the interaction between the pipes. The falling ash was made using NCloth to create a rigid 'tearable' surface that shattered on impact.

 Throughout the whole piece there are really nice atmospheric effects. How much of that was 3D and how much 2D?

 The atmosphere was a mix of volumetric lights, environment fog, 3d fluids, 2D lens effects and comp tricks.

I'm still assuming none of this was shot elements,, so I have to ask about the grass at the end and how that was achieved. As well as the really nice shader work on the pool of water, and how its reflection fades out in a nice realistic manner, was that something you got for free in the render? or did you have to do some comp trickery for that?

 There were no shot elements, besides photographic reference for the textures. The grass is just hand-styled paint effects converted to geometry. The reflection at the end, however, was just faded by hand to match the camera move.

 What was your primary 3d packages ? rendered in ... arnold ? from soft ? comped in nuke?

 We did the modeling in Maya and 3D Max. It was animated, lit, and rendered in Maya using Arnold. It was precomped in Nuke, then assembled and finished in Flame.

since you guys use a variety of software, how do you decided on which to use for each project?

The choice of software used is always based on a variety of factors.  Mainly it's derived from the availability of artists, or specific technical advantages.  In this case, as I was going to be helping in the cg production, we chose Maya because it's what I'm most familiar and proficient in.

Were there any major challenges or hurdles specific to this job vs the normal stuff you might do?

 The biggest challenge was the uninterrupted length of the spot; coordinating all the fluid FX, assembling the comp, and animating the camera are all made infinitely harder. Also, the scale of the factory was increased by a factor of 5 after the initial design process, which made us use larger, more detailed texture maps and models, increasing the overall complexity of the spot by the same amount. 

There is one thing that I would love to add. This was, by far, the best working experience I've ever had with an agency in my career of almost 10 years. Not only did they provide us with excellent creative to start with, they consistently gave us the most logical, well-considered and relevant feedback I've ever received from a client. We truly collaborated on everything from scene layout to sound design, and it was an absolute pleasure to have such capable and respectful partners, which, arguably, made the end result as powerful as it is.

Thanks so much to David, and for everyone at Psyop for sharing there time and info for this look into behind the scenes.

for more info on Psyop and to see more of their amazing work head to:



1 comment:

Nathan Love said...

Awesome concept and brilliant execution! Great Work Dave!!!