Many times in media production, things don't go as planned. Shoots can fall short in capturing all that is needed for a campaign story, and important details sometimes get overlooked for reasons like time, budget, talent availability, or by not having a director with VFX sensibilities on set.
This makes the post-production process a lot more harder and complex. The rushing on set left VFX artist and compositors with many elements to fix and cover. And sometimes clients ask for effects that the shots were not setup for. But this is where I personally find a great deal of joy in what I do for living. I love to create effects and cleanups that nobody can see. This is the art of the invisible beauty...
I recently was tasked by ESPN to edit, color grade, and create all the VFX for a Dish co-promotion with sports broadcast talent Chris Fowler. As I organized the footage, I realized there were many art direction details missing from the shoot, which for schedule and budget reasons ended up being compressed from twelve hours needed, into only two and a half hours!
Luckily the production team was able to work their magic, and shoot at least two takes on all main scenes and B-roll shots that were established in the story boards. With not many options we trimmed the long script into a 30 seconds spot and went off for approval.
Then the VFX / compositing fun started. As Creative Director I decided to go on and retouch every single scene removing all elements that created visual noise, or that were simply unpleasant. Each scene was treated with some form of VFX / compositing not visible on the final product.
The following before and after Creative Director Cards, illustrate some of the work done; including sky replacement, object enlargements, adding nonexistent elements like table covers, and removing background elements like trucks, dumpsters, poles, signs, and even porta-pottys.
Part of the fun on this type of effects is that they need to be convincing, and realistic enough to make the audience not notice, and believe it was all done that way on set. Unmistakable, clean, and on a perfect day!
To achieve that, comps needs to match the focal length of the cameras, blurring elements added to the same levels of the source shots; color correction needs to be applied to every aspect of the scene, to even out all the additions or removals; the outdoor light temperature needed to be matched, and all the camera moves tracked into the system.
I had to create manipulated photos to insert into Fowler's mobile phone as he swiped to show his camping and fishing images. The production team had images of him from a still photoshoot that helped separating his face and insert them into stock images.
Finally the color grading was set as a bright outdoor day. I pushed the colors highlighting the red to emphasize the Dish branding, and used color warper nodes to recover the skin tones of the talent. A multiplied vignette was added softly to focalize the action, and the final layer was treated with a very fine film grain to homogenize the look.
At the end, client was happy and I had a lot of fun creating invisible beauty... Enjoy the final spot!