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Clockwork VFX Puts Optimus Prime and Megatron in the Ring


LR-stills_bmtrans_17Clockwork VFX recently created a 3D animated boxing ad for the new “Transformers Battle Masters” game – a familiar, against-all-odds story about a scrappy boxer from the street, who gets his one shot at the championship. Only this time it’s Transformer arch-enemies Megatron and Optimus Prime battling in the ring. The :90 spot, for ad agency UPROAR!, New York, began airing in May.

Cinematic in its scope and narrative, “A Warriors Journey” opens with a tracking shot of a fireworks strewn city skyline toward an arena where it’s moments away from the big Battle Masters fight between Megatron and Optimus Prime.

Inside their dressing room the fighters reflect on the path that led them to this moment. The proverbial underdog character, Optimus Prime, flashes back to sweating it out on the streets, training for the fight by bench pressing cars at a junkyard and punching old shipping containers like a heavy bag. His humble origins are seen in direct contrast with the favorite, Megatron, who is shown training in state-of-the-art facilities with the best technology.

Set in a high tech arena before a sold out crowd, the boxing sequences employee the fast swinging camera movements and visceral slow-mo impact shots familiar to anyone that’s seen classic boxing films like Raging Bull or Rocky.

LR-th_stills_bmtrans_04“We’ve worked with the Transformer’s brand before so we know how the characters move and interact,” said Jason Tomlins, Clockwork VFX’s creative director/co-founder. “In this case, we took a few creative liberties from the look of toy, to make them look a bit more like Transformers kids are used to seeing in the movies and animated TV series.”

Although Clockwork employed many creative tools such as NewTek‘s Lightwave and the latest version of Nuke, Clockwork knew that crowd simulation would be needed to pull off the fight scenes. Rather than using an off-the-shelf crowd simulation plug-in, which Tomlins noted can lead to a stilted look, Clockwork animated 30 or so unique looking characters performing about 4 seconds of movement – clapping, cheering, waving their hands, etc. Those 30 characters were then duplicated numerous times and composited into the final scenes.

“This was an ambitious project from a CG animation perspective that truly tested Clockwork,” said Tomlins. “Ninety seconds of complex 3D animation, featuring an array of action sequences set in photo-real environments, is a rarity in advertising and it’s why this spot stands apart from everything else in the kids/toys market.”

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