Filmworkers provided postproduction services for a spot for Texas grocery chain H-E-B in which aliens invade the Lone Star State in search of tasty, store-brand food. Matt McClain performed final color correction for the 60-second commercial, which debuted in Southwest markets during the Super Bowl broadcast. It will also air during other high-profile events, including the Academy Awards.
Conceived by The Richards Group, the spot plays like a trailer for a science-fiction movie as a Texas community braces itself for an alien invasion. A farmer inspects a ruined cornfield. Fans at a sporting event spot a green light in the sky. Rocket scientists nervously monitor satellite images. Most mysteriously, H-E-B food products, shopping carts and even a big rig disappear. The drama culminates in a supermarket where a pint-sized alien in a ten-gallon hat buys milk, bread and other items before disappearing in a puff of smoke. “H-E-B brand products,” says the voice-over, “everybody wants them. Only Texas has them.”
The commercial features a large cast, numerous locations and oversized props (including an H-E-B truck parked on top of a building and 160 stacked shopping carts), elaborate movie makeup and animatronics. It was shot with an Arri Alexa camera system and presented in cinema-style 2.4 aspect ratio.
McClain’s role at Filmworkers was to give the imagery a rich, cinematic look. “Our aim was to give the spot a dark, contrasty look, similar to an action-packed movie thriller,” he explained. “My style of contrast, with warmer highlights and cooler mid-tones and blacks, really worked well for this. We had a lot of night scenes with high contrast breaking through.”
McClain made H-E-B products stand out by using his Baselight color grading system to apply subtle color and light adjustments to packages, cans and bottles. “I can create unlimited layers to separate and track individual features of images,” he explains. “I can color those aspects in real time and work with my clients interactively. That ensures that they are happy, not only with how the spot looks as a whole, but also with the product placement.”