In six short years since founding their Santa Monica-based studio Eight VFX, Baptiste Andrieux and Jean-Marc Demmer have built an industry-wide reputation for inspired work across the commercials, film and TV space. Recently, the collective put their gift for artistic innovation in the service of the new Carl's Jr (Hardee's) spot titled Robot via David & Goliath, slated for a late June launch on TV, Radio, Cinema, OOH/Guerilla, and In-Store.
The spot which encompasses a :60, :30 and :15 versions - tells a simple, comedic story with a great twist; a robot comes home from work, feeds his goldfish, and then sits down to eat dinner, the delicious-looking Carl's Jr (Hardee's) new hand breaded chicken fillet sandwich. Having no mouth to eat it with, the robot becomes increasingly frustrated, smashing the sandwich into its metal face, leading to some unexpected consequences. The clever tagline? 'Machines can't eat it, machines shouldn't make it - and that's just the way it is.'
The spot came to Eight VFX after director Rocky Morton and the agency "saw our reel and thought we'd be a good fit for the job," says EP Shira Boardman. "We did a smaller job with David & Goliath last year, so we were excited to get onboard with them again on this one to really showcase our full range of talents."
Creatively, Eight VFX was involved from the start of the process. "From the start, both Rocky and the agency wanted to use a robot, and shoot a man in a suit - Rocky felt that was the best way to get the acting and animation that he wanted," explains Andrieux. "So we began following the design of the robot, as we had to make sure it could be animated in CG. Legacy Effects designed the robot along with Rocky and the agency, so we had a lot of meetings with everyone to make sure we got all the elements to be able to rebuild all the parts that were missing. And comedy's always a little tricky to pull off well."
The team ultimately spent a month designing and developing the robot concept. "Our big technical challenge was to capture the exact movements of the robot, so we could replace the missing parts and stay very close to the acting that Rocky wanted to keep," Andrieux reports. Adds effects supervisor Fred Hopp, "Once Legacy was done with their design, right after the shoot and during the edit, we rebuilt every single part in CG, so we had a virtual clone."
According to Hopp, the team used photogrammetry to rebuild the robot, a process that's been defined as recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and patterns of recorded radiant electromagnetic energy and other phenomena. "Basically, you can either Lidar scan an object to remodel it or use pictures to reconstruct it in 3D geometry." notes Boardman." Adds Hopp, "Everything was based on pictures. You take pictures from every single angle, and then with the help of our software, we rebuilt the robot to within an 1/8th-inch precision, so we had a complete clone and could then swap any part we wanted."
Andrieux reports that Legacy actually built two robots; "One robot, that we called 'The Puppet,' which could be puppeteered and could move its head and its body a little bit, but it couldn't walk or hold or grab anything. That's the robot we copied in CG. There was also an actor in a suit who walked and grabbed the burger, and acted out the story. So for some of the shots that were extreme close-ups, we used the puppet. But in all the other shots we needed to replace the neck, the elbows, the hands and so on, as you could see it was a man in a suit."
To complete all the CG work took a team of 12. "It was pretty intensive," adds Andrieux. "The original methodology was a good one. What Rocky wanted to do, to really capture the robot moving in the environment, really worked well. It was very tedious work to do all the 3D roto match moving, where you have to match all the movements in 3D, and then do all the 2D roto for all the cleanup to match the suit, to be able to replace what you were not seeing."
Summing up, Andrieux notes that, "This was a very complex job. Some jobs mean you have to come up with a whole environment and world to design. But here, it was more just a highly technical challenge."
Adds Boardman, "David & Goliath are in the process of creating this whole new identity for Carl's Jr (Hardee's). So it's exciting for us to work with them to refresh a brand and launch a new product. And we appreciated that on this big CG job we did a lot of compositing and all the finishing. We do the nuts and bolts as well as all the fancy high end stuff."
Client: Carl's Jr
Spot Title: Robot
Air Date: June 2011
CCO: David Angelo
ECD: Colin Jeffery
CD(s): John Battle, Jason Karley
Associate CD/AD: Phil Covitz
Copywriter: Mark Monteiro
EP, Managing Director: Carol Lombard
EP: Christopher Coleman
Broadcast Producer: Kara Fromhart
VFX Company: Eight VFX
VFX Supervisor: Fred Hopp
EP: Baptiste Andrieux, Shira Boardman
VFX Producer: Donna Langston
Senior Compositor: Philip Ineno
Compositors: Ryan Yoshimoto, Mathieu Caulet
Art Director: Yann Mallard
Sr CG Artist: Greg Gangemi
CG Artist: Brad Hayes
Rig & Animation Kevin Culhane
3D roto & compositing support: Mikros
VFX Coordinator: Douglas Scruton
Production Company: MJZ
Director: Rocky Morton
EP: Jeff Scruton
DP: Kris Kachikis
Producer: Donald Taylor
Editorial: Union Editorial
Editor: Jim Haygood
EP: Michael Raimondi
VP/EP: Megan Dahlman
Telecine: Company 3
Colorist: Mike Pethel
Music: South Music
CD/Composer: Jon Darling
Composer: Todd Schnitzer
Head of Production/EP: Dan Pritikin
Producer: Alex Granieri
Sound Design & Final Mix: 740 Sound Design
Executive Producer: Scott Ganary
Sound Designers: Andrew Tracy, Eddie Kim
Final Mix: Eric Ryan
Eight VFX began in January 2005 with a simple philosophy - let craftsmanship and artistry be the guide. As relentless champions of this core belief, founders Baptiste Andrieux and Jean-Marc Demmer have seen their company quickly grow into a leading force in the VFX industry. With over six years of rigorous collaboration and experimentation on commercials for brands like Prius, Carl's Jr, Adidas, Hahn Beer, Converse, HP (the now iconic "hands' campaigns), BMW, T-Mobile, Spring, Bavaria Beer, LUX, Fidelity, Avon, among a slew of national and international brands, as well as television and features, Eight has demonstrated again and again that original vision translates into outstanding business.
A supreme commitment to craft, detail and innovation has attracted directors such as Tom Kuntz, Rocky Morton, Brian Beletic, Mr Hide, Stacy Wall, Sam Bayer, Bryan Buckley, Olivier Gondry, James Mangold, Joseph Kahn, Paul Hunter, Ruben Fleischer, Jonas Akerlund, and Francis Lawrence, among others.
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