Filed in: Animation, Art Direction, Camera, Commercials, News, Visual FX

MPC NY Helps Bring the Pennzoil Ad Campaign to Life

May 9, 2014 07:59 | By

LR-Pennzoil_Still_05Skunk director Raf Wathion and agency JWT Atlanta recently tapped MPC NY to bring the latest Pennzoil ad campaign to life in a visually new way – via the concept of projecting a series of 3D animations onto real vapor, tightly choreographed with live-action car performance and captured in camera using motion control – all with the projection serving as the only light source for the shoot. The project took almost a year to produce due to the advanced technical and engineering capabilities needed to pull off a commercial of this magnitude.

The campaign, anchored by a :30 hero spot, “Complete Protection,” also includes a :30 fully CG “Gas to Bottle” spot directed by David Estis at MPC Creative – a stunning visual journey through abstract particles that follows the curves forming the Pennzoil bottle.

For “Complete Protection,” Estis and VFX supervisor Ashley Bernes led the MPC team at every stage of campaign creation, collaborating with Wathion through concept development, previz and into post to achieve an entirely in-camera approach.

“The team at MPC has been very excited to create ‘Complete Protection’ since the first images appeared on vapor during the early live-action tests,” explained Estis. “The subtle nuances of the projected image on a real vapor cloud has a visual richness that is difficult to achieve with particle simulation, and the interaction between the car, projection, and cloud would have been next to impossible without an in-camera approach.”

The challenging nature of the visual approach drew on a wide range of MPC’s disciplines.

“We are often being brought into the equation much earlier, to develop detailed previz and define the visual techniques well before the shoot,” said executive producer Tim Dillon. “We’re now using projection and other interactive systems as part of our filmmaking toolkit.”

LR-Pennzoil_GTB_03The second spot, “Gas to Bottle,” is entirely CG.

“It was a fascinating film to direct and we set out to create a variation of visual particles, organic in shape and movement,” said Estis. “We had an intensive pre-vis process to craft particle simulations that were free form and natural while also controlled in shape and design.”

The animation and look development process, led by Bernes and Liam Griffin, involved the creation of proxy geometry that would twist and undulate in the same way as vapor, serving as a “roadmap” for particles to flow across, for both close up and wide shots.

The spots are part of a larger integrated campaign under the idea of “Motor oil Reimagined,” which will continue to roll out throughout the year.