Mexico City 3D Make Over
Geomedia recently completed a graphic intense spot for the Mexico City Mayor’s Office brought to us by NXT and director Kiko Guerrero. As Mexico City is growing they have started construction on a new and improved highway system complemented with improved bus routes, rail lines, and subway stations. Due to the construction the city would be a little messy, but the spot wanted to focus on the fact that the end result would be worth the inconvenience.
Kiko wanted a graphic look with almost painterly strokes as a metaphor for how this would turn out. We took inspiration from a variety of spots and ended up coming up with our own unique look and style for the client.
We decided to go with an “ink drop” effect, where color and detail would be added to a parchment like paper background through ink saturating it over and over again with a variety of colors and values. The first process in this was to create a realistic ink spreading effect.
We used Softimage particles along with a variety of After Effects turbulence and distortion filters, but decided it would be best to shoot real ink interacting with real paper to give the effect the authenticity required to sell it. We set up a rig to shoot the effect on camera. We ended up using a mirror at 45 degrees under a glass table to get the necessary angle without having hands and fingers interfering with the shot. We shot a variety of fluids, food colorings, papers, inks, and oils until we had enough versions of the type of effect we were looking for.
After digitizing the footage into the computer, we had to move on to creating the iconic Mexican urban landscapes that would be used in the spot. The client had sent us hundreds of images of Mexico City landmarks and places of interest. Rudy Martinez painstakingly rotoscoped out all of the buildings so we could use them in our 3D world. Troy then took all of the cutout buildings and created the 3D sets complete with roads, cars, highways, and various other urban elements to complete the look. Once the sets were finished, he choreographed the brilliant camera choreography and started rendering the shots inside Softimage.
For rendering style we chose to go nearly photorealistic. We would then take the photorealistic images from Softimage and edit them in After Effects to create our effects. For each render we would create several looks for it inside our compositor by running a variety of wireframe, cel shading, and other filters over it. By mixing our different variations of the same image, we were able to create a look that we could tweak over and over again without having to completely rerender the image should a change occur. It also made it possible for us to tweak certain aspects of the image over time, while leaving others the same to further the “painted on” effect.
I handled most of the After Effects duty with several cameos by Joe Schaertl, a Geomedia editor / compositor artist. By layering the ink blots and using them as luminance mats for the color passes of our rendered images, we were able to create a very fluid ink wiping effect. With control over opacity and subtle color changes, in addition to A LOT of finely tuned layering, the ink smoke effect became very believable and ultimately very beautiful to watch. By mixing our render variation layers back on top we were able to control where we wanted detail and color on every part of the screen.
The project garnered a bronze ADDY at the recent 2009 ADDY Awards Banquet here in San Antonio.