In a new ad campaign for Freschetta, a woman goes on an Alice-in-Wonderland-like journey in search of a better pizza. The campaign, conceived by St. Louis agency Cannonball, was produced by hybrid production studio Vitamin, which worked with its affiliate, Filmworkers, to provide a one-stop solution for the campaign that took it from the drawing board to the screen.
The campaign features a woman shopping for pizza in a supermarket packed with bland frozen pizzas. She falls through a trap door into a Wonka-like world filled with overgrown fruits and vegetables showcasing all of the fresh ingredients used in each of Freschetta’s “Simply Inspired” pizzas.
Creative director Danny DelPurgatorio led the Vitamin team who worked with creatives from Cannonball in designing the alternate worlds of the supermarket and the Freschetta fantasy land. “The supermarket looks like a typical grocery store, except that everything is ultra-bland and stale,” explains DelPurgatorio. “That is contrasted by the fantasy world that is bright, lush, grand, brimming with color and sunshine.”
Vitamin’s visual effects team initially prepared an animatic of the spot, indicating the position of the talent, the background environment and all of the various CG elements – as well as camera movements and lighting set ups for every shot. That served as a blueprint for the two-day, live-action shoot.
CG artists then prepared dozens of photoreal fruits and vegetables, using colors, lighting and textures drawn from still photographs shot on the set by photographer Rob Foster. “The vegetables had to look real and appealing, because everyone knows how a pepper and a mushroom look,” explained Vitamin art director/CG lead Linas Jodwalis. “It wasn’t something we could cheat.”
The compositing team, meanwhile, was led by Filmworkers’ visual effects director Rob Churchill. It was their task to integrate the various elements into scenes that look rich and seamless. Churchill oversaw a team of four compositors who carried out a virtual round-the-clock effort to complete the work.
“We spent a lot of time in preproduction working with Vitamin to determine which elements would be shot, which would be practical, which CG, and so on,” Churchill recalled. “So when it came time to shoot, we knew exactly what we needed and how to get it, and it also meant we were well prepared when we got into postproduction.” Still, Churchill added, each scene in the commercial required nearly a week to composite as dozens of elements had to be carefully integrated into the backgrounds and balanced to match with other elements in the shots.
Color grading was performed by Filmworkers’ Michael Mazur. “It was a monumental task given the number of elements and the fact that they originated in so many different media,” Mazur explains. “We also wanted to sharpen the contrast between the supermarket scene that opens the spot and the surreal environment that follows.”
Churchill and DelPurgatorio agreed that having all the work done under one roof by a team of artists who are familiar with and supportive of one another’s work has enormous advantages in terms of creative consistency and production efficiency.
“It was great to have the opportunity to take a project from storyboard to screen,” said DelPurgatorio. “And it was also fun for our artists to collaborate with Filmworkers. That was the most exciting and rewarding part of the project.”