American Ingenuity

Posted on August 23, 2013 in Ad VenturesBehind The Scenes

America has a long history of technological firsts from the airplane to the automobile… This years Valero campaign, concepted by Tom and Lisa of 180, tells the tale of that American Ingenuity and Valero Energy Corporation’s role in maintaining their momentum of leadership as America’s largest refiner, providing the resources to keep America Moving.

The two :30 spots begin the journey with a few vintage clips illustrating a few of America’s milestone innovations and where we’ve come from before segueing into cinematic contemporary lifestyle shots of people traveling the road and enjoying the great outdoors.

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Traveling shot showing camera RAW digital negative before and after color grade.

As one of the leading production facilities in Texas, Geomedia was tasked with a full turnkey assignment that included production management and production services, shooting the commercials, post production, visual effects and 3D animation.

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Geomedia DP Zach Nasits and First AC extraordinaire Cal Roberts on set.

We captured the majority of the spots using Red Epic 5K outfitted with our Arri Alura Super 35mm Optics. The concepts required some specialty aerials where we geared up with pilot Glen Patterson of North Texas Helicopters and outfitted his Jet Ranger with a CineFlex nose mount, provided by Aerial Filmworks. The CineFlex provided the versatility needed to capture the dynamic end tag shot with an oil tanker and passenger vehicle.

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Jet Ranger Helicopter outfitted wth the awesomc CineFlex nose camera.

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Additional aerial shots were captured by our buds at helivideo with this cool remotely piloted drone.

In order to achieve the look of diverse landscapes without a lot of pre-production time, filming took place locally in San Antonio but also in remote locations in Seguin, Kerrville, Big Bend National Park, Corpus Christi, Austin, and Bastrop.

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The iconic 360 bridge in Austin before and after color grade in Davinci Resolve.

The scenes encompassed driving shots as well as lifestyle shots and used over 30 vehicles in addition to a specialty petroleum tanker that was supplied, prepped, and polished by Mission Petroleum in San Antonio.

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A family camping excursion portrayed in the rugged mountains of Big Bend. .

One of the biggest challenges production faced was dealing with the unfortunate weather patterns that always seemed to show up in direct contrast to the reported forecasts. Like the ole saying goes, If you don’t like the weather in Texas, just wait 5 minutes… “DP’s call this a ‘lead sky’” commented Zach. “But we all know that the show must go on.”

And so it did. 

Since re-shoots were out of the question due to schedule constraints, Geomedia’s post production departments was tasked with giving the shots a warmer feel and remedy the “cold and cloudy” look.

In some instances, Zach worked with the RAW .R3D files in Davinci Resolve to create contrast and illumination in the skies via Power Windows, 3D tracking, and HSL qualification. In other instances, sky replacements were implemented by Martin Jaeger and provided the best results for the shot.

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Aerial station shot before and after visual FX treatment. Can you tell what has changed?

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Final color graded station shot.

In addition to sky replacements, we supervised and executed additional VFX such as adding a CG roof to the gas station pump awning and tracking other photo-real 3D generated and live-action elements into the scenes. Matchmoving the aerial footage was particularly challenging but essential in order to track Valero’s logo to the unbranded Petroleum tanker for the fly over end tag shots.

The final spot was aired on this years broadcast of the Valero Texas Open Golf Tournament. It was a terrific experience working with Valero and all the cast and crew that helped us pull of this challenging spot. We are proud to have been able to bring our own brand of “American Ingenuity” to the effort.


Client: Valero Energy Corporation
Agency: 180
Director: Murray Breit
Production Manager: Chantel Nasits
Director of Photography/Colorist: Zach Nasits
Senior Editor: Jeff Chesnut
Visual FX: Martin Jaeger, Jeremy Kenisky, Rudy Martinez, Joseph Schaertl
Animation Director: Martin Jaeger
3D modeling/Animation: Martin Jaeger, Johnathan Nitiparsong
Technical Direction: Jeremy Kenisky
Audio Production: Keith Harter Music

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