Filed in: Animation, Commercials, Featured, Postproduction, Visual FX

Method Artists Create a World of Dancing Robot Armies and Hamsters for Kia

September 1, 2011 07:47 | By

Method Studios handled VFX for the new Kia commercial, "Share Some Soul."

Visual effects company Method Studios recently completed work on a new commercial, “Share Some Soul,” developed by Kia Motors America (KMA)’s advertising agency of record, David&Goliath, introducing the refreshed 2012 Kia Soul. The VFX-heavy spot debuted during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. Featuring the popular hamsters from previous Kia commercials, the new spot also features two sets of robot armies engaging in a fantastic dance battle to LMFAO‘s club hit “Party Rock Anthem.” Working with director Mark Romanek, Method Studios took Anonymous Content‘s designs and created the dancing robot armies as well as the spot’s desolate environment.

In addition to taking on the challenge of creating an all-CG world with all-CG characters, Method had to complete the job in a very tight time frame. “The scope and ambition of this spot was definitely challenging considering the extensive amount of CG required in a short time,” said VFX supervisor Nordin Rahhali. “There were a lot of full CG shots as well as plenty of character animation and motion capture.”

“It was exciting working with Mark,” Rahhali added. “He had a lot of ideas and he gave us a lot of great feedback. We faced many challenges, but it was gratifying to successfully collaborate with him on this project.”

Method’s experience with CG creatures and photorealistic fur was crucial to the success of the spot. Dancers in practical suits were filmed for the hamster scenes. The hamsters’ heads, hats and hands were all replaced and recreated in CG. A two-person team created the fur and handled all the lighting and rendering for the hamsters.

Motion capture was used to create the robot armies’ dance moves, which were further refined to make the dancers look more robotic. Most of the environment was comprised of digital matte paintings projected within Nuke to allow for limited camera movements.

The spot was rendered in Maya through Renderman. Lighting was done through Maya as well. Effects were completed in Houdini. The hamsters were rendered in Houdini and Mantra. Compositing was done in Nuke, with a few shots composited in Flame. Tracking was completed in Synth Eyes and 3D Equalizer (everything shot on-set was captured using two camera and 6-8 matchmove artists worked on the spot). Texturing was done in MARI.

Company 3 co-founder/colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld and fellow colorist Dave Hussey performed color grading for the spot.

“You couldn’t ask for anything more out of a VFX-heavy project,” said senior VFX supervisor Dan Glass. “Aliens, robots, dancing hamsters – there’s something for everyone. I hope we get to do a sequel.”