Dallas/Santa Monica-based digital studio Reel FX recently delivered a VFX-laden 30 second spot entitled “Imagine” for the Florida Lottery via ad agency St. John & Partners, Jacksonville, Fla. The spot features a daydreaming man on a balmy beach accompanied by dollar-bodied butterflies, cloud-shaped images of wealth and graceful, low-flying flamingos.
“We all loved the concept from the beginning, but I think we were all asking ourselves, can we really do such a CG-heavy spot, in a matter of weeks, with the holidays approaching,” executive producer Steve Johnson recalled. “Luckily, we had an agency and a client that were up for the challenge and a team of creatives that were dedicated to making this happen. The result is a beautiful spot we’re really excited about.”
Director Kevin Althans and Johnson collaborated closely with agency executive creative director David Bonner and producer Lauren Irving to tackle the spot on a compressed timeline. Once concepts and initial assets were agreed upon, the Reel FX animation team immediately went to work on previz. They quickly moved into modeling, rigging and animation on the extensive CG elements, which included the clouds, sky, oranges, flamingos and foliage. The team used Maya for these assets, then completed CG composites in Nuke and executed color and online in Inferno. Meanwhile, Althans and Johnson chose to take a weather gamble and utilize a stunning, secluded section of Key Biscayne beach for the live shoot, rather than going with the “safer” studio option. “We lucked out with absolutely stellar skies and sunrise on a beach in Miami,” Althans noted. “The heavens opened up and it poured rain 45 minutes after we wrapped.” The footage, captured on a Red Epic, was transcoded on set. Althans worked with Reel FX executive creative director Dale Carman and the agency to deliver the final cut by 7 p.m. that night.