“Ever since I read the storyboard I knew this would be the ideal opportunity to use ‘motion capture’. A technique that can accurately record the movement and behaviour of actors, and store it in a digital format so the 3D department can use it to animate their characters.
Our lead animator Rolf van Slooten started testing some animation data we received from the motion capture studio. Importing that data turned out to couse no problems at all, even handling and adjusting the data went very smooth!
Because the life-action shoot would be shot with available light during magic hour and beyond, we started some 35mm tests to check if we still had enough focal depth and if our tracking software could still handle the low detail to extract an accurate camera track.
After showing the first tests to director Joeri Holsheimer, he was very impressed, not only because of the perfectly natural animations, but especially about the endless possibilities this would give him. Once the action was recorded it could be applied in every position and angle we could think of, without limitations!
The client was even more impressed and sent us off to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where we shot all the backplates, HDRI spheres, and took accurate mesurements of the surroundings. We used stand alone motion-trackers we specially developped for this project, which where made out of little LED lights, which lasted for over two weeks!
Back in Amsterdam the 3D team started designing the trafficlight man and motion-track the life-footage to extract the camera movement, while the director was editing the 90 second version next door. Performing the offline edit in-house was essential to the success of the commercial.
After the trafficlight man was final we headed over to Motek’s motion capture studio, and spend two days recording the action with a team of 6 stunt coordinators, which gave us over 200 individual takes. Four of our animators started building over 3 minutes of animatics for the offline edit, and 4 of our compositors started cleaning up the backplates and removing all the motion trackers.
When all the shots were done we started adding in all the character animations and several traffic-lights. We decided to replace complete traffic-lights with new ones was easier than replacing parts of it. In the parking garage we needed to rebuild the bottoms of several cars to get the proper lighting of the men hiding underneath it.
On december 22 the job was done and the tape was send to Saudi Arabia. The commercial is to be on air for about one year.
Although the final commercial was always meant to be PAL (720-576) we did the whole post in HD (1920-1080) to get the best possible results in motion-tracking and compositing.”