Optimus and its production arm One at Optimus teamed with Olson to direct, cut and finish two spots for U.S. Bank. “High Rise” and “Concert” – now airing nationally – capture the theme of U.S. Bank representing a sure thing in an uncertain world. In both spots, dramatic action in the background is juxtaposed with the main characters’ clear preference for certainty. Helmed by ONE director Michael Chaves and cut by Optimus editor Craig Lewandowski, the spots were created by an integrated production team from the creative services house.
“To have a company with Optimus’ reputation for post deliver the same world-class production quality via ONE is truly unique in this business,” said Olson creative director, Mark Andersen. “With everyone under one roof, they had strong relationships even before shooting began. They also had a vested interest in ensuring that the entire process – from production to editing to CG to VFX – went great.”
“Concert” opens with an executive walking into a dark, empty auditorium remarking, “I don’t like excitement.” Just after he says this, flames explode high into the air onstage. Working with Oscar-winning DP Mauro Fiore and Strictly FX – which did the pyrotechnics, VFX and lasers for Beyonce Knowles’ Super Bowl XLVII halftime show – Optimus and ONE created a full-on rock show for a fictional band at the Chicago area Allstate Arena. From pyrotechnics and laser lighting to computer-controlled lighting and video, the detail of an actual rock show was incorporated into the shoot.
“Our goal for the spots was to make them authentic and cinematic,” Chaves said. “‘High Rise’ and ‘Concert’ are great examples of Optimus’ integrated model. We prevized both spots with the VFX and editorial teams, which made the shoot and post processes extremely smooth. Craig was cutting the earliest versions we presented. It’s amazing to have the same people working on the project from the very beginning. Especially when working with pyrotechnics and VFX, the hybrid approach is a great way to keep spots creative and effective.”
“High Rise” depicts a construction company owner standing atop a high-rise in the process of being built. With I-beams swinging past him and sparks flaring just below, he says, “I don’t like risk. Safe is the real thrill.” The spot was created on greenscreen using background plates shot on top of the Kemper building in Chicago. The team spent a lot of time working on the animatics from the initial boards that came from the agency to be sure the timing and camera positioning were in synch. Optimus VFX supervisor Paul Rosckes and design technical director Mark Walczak worked closely with Chaves and Lewandowski to be sure the plates were realistic and the height factor came to life in the spot.
“Collaborating with the teams at Optimus and ONE was critical in editing both spots, as ‘High Rise’ was very CG heavy and ‘Concert’ leveraged costly pyrotechnics explosions that could only be shot two to three times,” Lewandowski said. “Chaves and I worked closely together on an animatic for ‘Concert’ to be sure we knew exactly what we were going after before we shot. On ‘High Rise,’ we worked closely with our set designers and VFX team to be sure we came away with a spot that feels authentic and gives the viewer a sense of height and risk.”