Dubai-based visual effects/3D animation studio Clockwork VFX was recently called on to deliver a comprehensive ad campaign for Hasbro‘s new Star Wars Fighter Pods, introducing the new toy line with a cinematic ad and a series of five humorous webisodes featuring the Star Wars characters, which are now playing on the Hasbro website.
“It doesn’t get much bigger than Star Wars and our whole creative team was excited to be a part of this extraordinary project,” said Jason Tomlins, Clockwork VFX’s co-founder and managing director. “For us, this campaign proved to be a great example of what we’re capable of creatively and our ability to manage complex assignments on tight schedules.”
Created by New York-based ad agency Uproar, which specializes in youth marketing, the spot is a combination of over-the-top CG animation and live-action kids.
Opening with a shot of a 3D animated toy version of Darth Vader aboard the Death Star, brandishing his light saber and declaring “unleash the pods,” the spot quickly cuts to its most complex visual effects sequence – an epic, 3D animated battle sequence featuring toy versions of characters Jabba the Hut, Yoda, Darth Maul, C-3PO and others, all set on grassy hillside dotted with numerous explosions, fire and smoke.
“They wanted us to follow the look of the toys, but with an added sense of reality, so they didn’t look too plastic,” Tomlins explained. “The biggest challenge for us visually proved to be the grass landscape and creating something that was realistic looking, aesthetically pleasing and integrated with the characters, but that could be rendered in a short time frame. Small amounts of mass detail can get very complex.”
The other component to the project was a series of five 3D-animated webisodes that take a decidedly different approach. Lighthearted in tone, the webisodes portray the Star Wars characters in “prankster mode.”
For example, in “Jetpack” we see Chewie and C-3PO team up for the ultimate practical joke on Boba Fett; while “What Goes Around” finds Darth Vader putting on his helmet that has been filled with shaving cream by Darth Maul. While the tone of the shorts is geared to pre-teen boys, the visual effects work was complex.
“These shorts were quite experimental for the brand and the agency,” Tomlins explained, “And because this was a new area, they were open to our ideas and let us play a bigger role in composing the visuals, the camera angles, the lighting and the general pacing of the stories. They had great ideas for the storylines, and we had the best time bringing them to life.”
The company reports that the agency now considering five additional web shorts.
“The creatives at Uproar showed a lot of trust in bringing us onboard for this challenging project,” Tomlins said, “and we responded by throwing everything we had at it – from the animatic to the finished work. It may sound like the worst cliché, but we really love what we do and we have a great team.”