Zoic Studios director Loni Peristere and Global Hue have completed two national spots for Jeep Wrangler that take on winter and demonstrate that “winter doesn’t stand a chance.” Zoic Studios is an Emmy and V.E.S. award winning visual effects company headquartered in Culver City, Calif. known for its work in creating stunning winter effects.
In “Avalanche,” a Winter X Edition Jeep sits waiting on a peaceful mountain slope. As the Jeep takes off down the mountainside viewers realize that a disaster awaits – an avalanche of epic proportion is rolling towards the speeding vehicle. With twists and turns the Jeep stays ahead of the rolling mass of snow, outrunning the uncontrollable juggernaut. Aerial shots show the wall of ice destroying everything in its path. Finally the avalanche rolls over the Jeep and consumes the vehicle and driver, with the action coming to a rest. Moments later the Jeep breaks out and drives away.
For the spot, Peristere and the Zoic Studios team sought to illustrate Jeep Winter X Edition’s mastery of the environment on a grand scale. Combining practical and visual effects to create the ultimate in winter adventure, the commercial features enormous environmental work with virtually every frame being digitally manipulated for greatest effect. Realizing the fast-moving avalanche that wipes out virtually everything in its path (including 100-foot pine trees) is one of the most obvious VFX shots in the commercial, but the spot has been tuned, tweaked and cleaned by Zoic Studios throughout. Integration of CG cars in several shots was supervised by CG leads Dariush Derakhshani and Brian White. Flame compositing work was overseen by Steve Meyer and the spot was cut in house at Zoic by Dmitri Gueer.
The ad combines live-action “hero” vehicle footage with CG vehicle elements. Extensive matte painting was employed to re-create the tree and ridge lines. The spot also called for extensive particle systems work and heavy compositing.
Even the actual mountainside was manipulated to make the slope feel steeper and more dangerous. Zoic Studios used Phantom and Alexa cameras to capture the live-action footage.
Mauro Fiore served as director of photography for the commercial. Location services were overseen by EJ Foerster and Karen Rohrbacher of CMS Productions.
“In creating the spot, we imagined a battle between behemoth and hero and needed to fully illustrate the power of nature, a stunning environment and the agility and ruggedness of the Jeep Winter X Edition,” said Peristere. “The Zoic Studios team created winter perfection, epic disaster and triumph on a cinematic scale, on time and on budget.”
For the second Jeep Winter X Edition spot, shot in the snow covered mountains of Utah, Peristere blended live action in-snow footage, seamless visual effects and Robert Frost’s poetry to create a spot that highlights the brand’s off-road abilities. Steve Meyer led the team as senior Flame compositor aided by the 3D team under the supervision of Dariush Derakhshani. Alison Veneto-Grady cut the spot in-house for Zoic.
The inclusion of Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” fit the spot perfectly, and had a personal connection for Peristere. “My father used to take my brothers and I on walks through the woods and recite many of Frost’s poems while we trudged through the snow,” said Peristere. “While we were in Utah scouting locations, I thought of my dad every day and that poem. when we cut the spot, we worked Frost into the spot and it really adds to the majesty and wonder that off-roading brings.”