Timeless Vin Scully

It was the utmost privilege to co-Direct and be a part of the production of "Timeless", the MLB Network opening for the 2016 Baseball Postseason.  The subject was Vin Scully and the retirement of one of the most legendary voices in baseball, the most compelling story this season and possibly the year.

Directing for the VFX portion of the piece.

Directing for the VFX portion of the piece.

We flew to Los Angeles to shoot Scully at Dodgers Stadium.  The concept was to follow him as he arrived to work from his car all the way to the media booth. Along his walk we would see flashes of the greatest calls he ever did.  As he sat at his desk the point of view would turn into a dark room of memories so we could bring the spectators to relevant moments of his 67 year career in that booth.

The approach was to shoot with an organic feel and let him walk and prepare for the game as he always did.   We rehearsed and choreographed our two cameras the day before.  My client Chris Pfeiffer and I discussed the shot list as we scouted the path Scully always took into the stadium.  Then our DP, Samson Chang, established the moves and angles with the camera team.

On the day of the shoot, we were all anticipating his arrival.  As he stepped out of the car, our two RED cameras went to work.   One camera, on a MoVI, followed his steps and the other handled the establishing and details shots on sticks.  The walk went pretty fast.  We had to make the best use of the natural light and the speed of the cameras since we wanted an epic slow motion feel.

Vin Scully delivering "they always do" referring to the great unpredictable moments in baseball.

Vin Scully delivering "they always do" referring to the great unpredictable moments in baseball.

I moved into the booth to make sure the locked shots for rotoscoping the classic "memories around his desk" were done at the right angle and set correctly for the VFX. In the end, this was all accomplished in no more than a half hour, which was all we got from the extremely busy schedule of Vin Scully.  Literally, there were several Dodgers and Rockies players already in line to visit Vin at his booth and take pictures with him as we finished shooting.

On the post-production side, I used the Autodesk Flame Premium at REVEAL to conform the cut done by my talented friend Jonathan Wendell, I also used the Flame to create the spotlight memories comps, and to design the color grading and mood of the piece. I also worked on Zaxwerks Pro Modeler to model the 3D logo of the National League Division Series for the end of the piece.

In parallel, I had the opportunity to work on my first VR (Virtual Reality) project.  I took our company’s VR camera and placed it on Scully’s chair at head level before he arrived.  I was able to record and capture a few minutes of his view while the Dodgers were having a batting practice in the afternoon. 

In the end, the client was thrilled to have this additional piece featured on MLB.com as "Vin Scully View from the Booth".  Learning this process and how to comp in a 360 environment was a new and fascinating experience for me.

Lastly, for MLB Network’s repurposing uses, I took the master spot that aired into Adobe Premiere to recreate the Flame comps in an editorial friendly platform.  The network was extremely happy with the piece and their production teams wanted to use the spot in their shows.  This required me to provide them with a way to insert different players under the spotlights featured in the spot.  MLB Network is an Adobe facility so I made a simple stack on Premiere, bringing the light effect and the color grading very close to what was done in Flame, which gave their editors the ability to make the changes they needed with a simple drop of the footage in the Premiere layer bins.

The final piece was narrated by Tom Selleck and the music was scored by the talented Ulysses Millan.  It delivered powerful emotional visuals along with a fabulous script that highlighted the impressive career of Vin Scully and his influential voice in sports through the decades.  A beautiful reverence paid to the man who has seen it all in baseball. 

It was a truly humbling experience to work on this piece, which from the moment it went on air was blessed with compliments... as Forbes Magazine called it "The Greatest Baseball TV Ad of All Times"

"Beam me up, Scotty"

Got assigned by ESPN to create a few VFX to enhance a Co-Promotion between the 2016 Home Run Derby and the premiere of the new Star Trek Beyond Movie.

The idea was to combine baseball with Star Trek! so by the magic of editorial work, Joe Castellano at REVEAL took lines from the several movie trailers creating a mini story where the USS Enterprise gets attacked by unidentified objects that later reveal themselves as baseballs that had been hit by different Major League sluggers.

My role here was to take scenes from the actual movie and compose many baseballs hitting the ship, as well as creating the illusion that the characters of the movie were looking or flying by planet Earth. 

Autodesk Flame view of the compositing

Autodesk Flame view of the compositing

Through the use of Autodesk Flame I generated a particle system for the scene, replacing the particles with nodes of textured 3D baseballs. I added a particle bouncer defining the surface of the ship so the computer would analyze the physics of the balls hitting the Enterprise. Later I added digital light sources to match the scene and color corrected the particle system as a whole to attenuate the effect and make it more believable. Finally added some motion blur and manipulated a few shadows traveling over the surface of the ship to create a complete illusion of the baseballs hitting the USS Enterprise.

The VFX work was done in tandem with my talented friend Craig Lamson, who took also a few scenes replacing missiles by baseballs and created a beautiful warp traveling baseball effect that worked great as a transitional cut.

To support the promo story, I had to insert planet Earth into the movie scene, adjusting color and tracking to match the movie clip.

To support the promo story, I had to insert planet Earth into the movie scene, adjusting color and tracking to match the movie clip.

Finally, as any good ESPN promo we needed to create an end card reflecting both the tune in action to the Home Run Derby and the Star Trek movie, so I decided to create the HRD logo in a 3D style close to the style of the already established Star Trek logo. We animated the logos over the movie trailer backgrounds provided by Paramount Studios and the result was a fun co-promotional piece with a very effective story.

Like it? Share it leave me your comments!  Cheers!

Show me you're a champion!

If you are a champion, you have to show what you've got....

I had the absolute pleasure to be part of a fantastic team of creatives that work on the campaign for the NBA Finals. ESPN approached me with the idea for the spot, they wanted to insert key moments of NBA Finals history interacting with no other than The  Roots while they were performing the theme for the Finals: "Show Me You're a Champion".

Black Thought performing "Show me you're a champion"

Black Thought performing "Show me you're a champion"

The overnight shoot was set on a basketball street court in Brooklyn. A fantastic setting with the city skyline at night as a backdrop. For the VFX I worked with Senior Editor Jonathan Wendell and the ESPN producing staff preselecting the NBA footage of the key moments they wanted on the spot. My buddy Eddie Wiseman rotoscoped these scenes and we brought these elements into the shoot to juxtapose them with the background plates for the effect. Through a process of "stitches" of plates, I was able to recreate the camera movements of the NBA shots with the plates captures on the street court. The final tracking and finishing of the scenes I did on the Flame at Reveal with a fun look that complemented the "gold" feel of the Final's Trophy.

Working with The Roots was a blast as the band was very professional and knew how to enjoy themselves through the process of multiple takes on the shoot. Big shout out to Rico Labbe who directed the shoot and was in command of the overall visuals.

Don't miss the spots running on ESPN and ABC, and feel free to leave a comment below and share this blog entry. Also don't hesitate to contact me with your next idea for your creative projects... Cheers!

SHOWTIME Sports new open

A couple months back, Showtime gave me the chance to compete for the design of their new Sports Open. After a few rounds of ideas and boards, I’ve got granted the job and since then I’ve been focused in directing this important piece.

My idea was founded on a micro world contained inside the SHO logo. The animation portrays massive stages with gigantic screens displaying the different properties of Showtime Sports, including Championship Boxing, Inside the NFL, Documentaries, and 60 Minutes Sports among others. The camera travels through these stages to finally pull back and reveal them as small bulbs within a series of LED lamps that form the SHO sports logo.

A beautiful aspect of the 3D work was to coordinate a team that created volumetric lights that interacted realistically with the fog elements on the scene. Creating the systems implied a lot of technical work, and part of my job consisted in directing the technical into an artistic vision, in other words, make it look good.

Had the pleasure to work with my long time friend David Klinkowize and Cesar Delarosa, who were in charge of doing all the 3D modeling and texturing, plus inserting the shots at Reveal. Another part of our 3D team was in parallel working on the volumetric lights, and the camera animation.

I personally wanted to do the finishing on the piece, so I took all the different 3D elements into the Flame for the final comp adding background lights, additional layers of colored smoke, glows, and final color grading.

I’m very happy with the final result of this open, which would be on-air right before each major Showtime Sport event for a few years. Thank you Showtime for this amazing and fun opportunity.

Little Big Man

The time of the year where the boys of Summer becomes the heroes of the Fall!

Always amazing to work for Major League Baseball Network during this time of the year facing the Post Season. MLB wanted to bring the excitement of baseball back to the kids and found players, so under this parameter we came up with the idea to go inside the sentiments and imagination of every Major Leaguer when they were kids, practicing and playing in their Little League fields.

The transformation from the kids into Major Leaguer was defined by morphing the actors on green screen and working with their coaches to mimic as close as possible the movements of the MLB players on their game footage and make the morph more viable.

I didn't wanted to have just a morph on these scenes fearing that would be too predictable so I decided to transform the background as well from a Little League Stadium to their counterpart Major League. I worked directing a talented team of 3D artist that modeled, rigged and textured the Dodgers Stadium and the Blue Jays dugout in record time.

On the finishing side, a phase of Color Grading was crucial in making the piece consonant with the beautiful narrative stablished by writer guru Greg Jennings. While all the shots were done in mid-Summer, we needed to transfer the scenes into Fall, so changing every single sky and trees were part of the task.

Including all rotoscoping, shooting, editing, 3D modeling, texturing and animation, graphics, color correction and grading... the piece was done in the record time of two and a half weeks. 

Another Emmy Win!

What an amazing night at the 36th Annual gala of the Sports Emmy Awards. Had the blessing of being recognized by the Academy as Best Creative Director in the category of Outstanding Production Design / Art Direction with the Hall of Heroes piece I directed for MLB Networks. Thank you very much for the great work and congratulations to everyone in the talented team that made this possible:

Senior Creative Director:
Miguel Oldenburg

Creative Director:
Chris Pfeiffer

Production Designers:
Paul Badilla, Frank Baglino, Andrew Batti, Dale Boyce, Chris Burns, Jose Felipe Cortes, Tony Ferraiolo, Ben Friedfeld, John Gardner, James Grieco, Greg Jennings, Jianchao Lee, Ulysses Millan, Eric Neason, Nick Novelli, Frank Petterson, Sebastian Ruz, Jason Strougo, Tomas Tasza.

ESPN Women's Basketball Championship

My team was presented with the challenge to design and execute the campaign look for the NCAA Women's Basketball in about a week! The direction from ESPN was to create an editorial driven idea with a dramatic feel.

The client wanted a series of graphic tools to enhance the footage body of each spot without overpowering the frames and an End Card mechanism with design longevity that could be used during the entire season with few updates. The client also had the concern of the amount of information they needed to place in these end cards, where sometimes 4 games tune-in info is displayed in the same spot.

My approach was to generate a clean minimalistic look with a big negative space for the elements to have a quick reading. The idea evolved into creating a Basketball court made out of glass, this way, not having solid objects left open spaces with transparencies and an uncluttered feel.

On this project I worked with the talented Eddie Wiseman developing the conceptual boards, then with Dale Boyce and Cesar Delarosa creating the 3D space, models and camera moves in Maya, to finally take it into the Flame for the finishing; here I added a dramatic ethereal feel of blues and purple fogged lines and structured the text content.

Couldn't be more happier with the results of my team in such a tight time frame. It's a privilege to work with such a talented group with an unison mindset about creating stunning visuals and delivering on time.

Shooting for the Masters

With ESPN I had the opportunity to go inside the exclusive Masters Club House in Augusta Georgia to direct a shoot for their current 2015 promotional golf campaign. The idea was to create a elegant piece showing an intimate view of what only the Masters winners can enjoy inside the club: The Masters Locker Room.

The Augusta club certainly has an aura of tradition and history engraved in names like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods but also members like President Eisenhower which had his own desk at the main room. The challenge as Director was to capture the tone of these traditions for the piece while shooting with a skeleton crew and under rigorous rules and norms from the Club... and yes, I had to go buy and wear a pair of khakis!

We shot with the new Arri Amira which gave us decent results in a compact setup. Once in post, the piece was edited by my talented friend Chris Wagner under the eye of Kevin Sullivan and Geoff Bird from ESPN. When the edit was in place I took it into the Flame for the finishing, which included all sort of detailing work such as skies replacement, cleaning all the imperfections, dents and scratches from the trophy and name plates, light flicker removals, eliminating props and reflections of rigs on the glass of the cabinets, adding light rays and flares to the window lights and creating a final color grading to reflect a warm look of aged traditions.

Check out this Before and After side by side...

The spot will be running the month of March on ESPN.

Color sophistication

I was hired to create a distinct mood for the welcome video presentation of the prestigious ARCHER hotel. The purpose of this video is to be looped in every room to welcome the guests of the hotel, that being said, the tone of the piece needed to reflect the elegance and exclusive feel of the ARCHER brand, but also a light welcoming good feel.

Color is an extraordinary tool to reflect all these juxtaposed moods effectively. I took the piece into the Autodesk Flame to create a color grading based on stylized blue tonal beds, desaturating most of the environmental colors to avoid distraction on every shot and using the color warper to isolate certain colors and accentuate these on each scene.

The result was very pleasing yet visually striking. 

Color can tell stories: Deep Blues hinting just enough flashes of red to reveal a sexy wine pour. 

Color can tell stories: Deep Blues hinting just enough flashes of red to reveal a sexy wine pour. 

The best part of the project was for me to enjoy a night at the ARCHER and see the piece play at my own room. Dining at David Burke's Fabrick restaurant and having a single malt at the Bugatti Bar was quite an experience.

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A great campaign for the ESPN College Football Championship

I had the great opportunity to work with the promotion of the recent College Football Championship in ESPN. The campaign was conceived by the agency Wieden & Kennedy consisting in a monumental wall of monitors being crushed and turned off as teams were not making it "IN" for the finals, leaving only the last two monitors/teams for the championship game.

My job was to collaborate with the design of the topical promos for this property. Along with the direction of Mike Dominguez from ESPN and the great compositing hand of David Klinkowize at Reveal, we came up with a strategy based on a series of open angles on the clean monitors of the crushed wall to establish the content of the body and a wide tracking shot for the design of the end card.

Here is a sample of the Shooting Boards I made as a reference for the director to provide the angles we needed for our story.  

On the compositing side I had the chance to design the end card of the promo, cleaning the background plates and tracking the tune in information into the scene using the Flame. The look of the final wall needed to be adjusted from the 4 clean monitors of the semi-finals to 2 unbroken monitors and lots of masking and color layers were needed to manipulate the scene.

3 New Nominations for the 35th Sports EMMY Awards

An honor to be recognized again this year by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with three nominations for the Sports Emmy Awards. I worked as a Creative Director/VFX Supervisor for the "Field Of Dreamers" MLB opening and got nominated in these categories:

Best Open/Tease

Best Production Design/Art Director

and for the prestigious George Wensel Technical Achievement Award.

A special thank you to Tony Pettiti and Chris Pfeiffer at MLB Network for giving me the opportunity to create and be part of such talented team of professionals.

 

 

2013 EMMY AWARD WINNER

Extremely pleased for being recognize once again as a Creative Director. The National Academy of Television Art & Sciences made me once again the winner of the prestigious Sports EMMY award in the Outstanding Graphic Design category.

This honor came with the creative direction I did for the MLB Networks Division Series Opening. It was a true privilege to work along with an amazing team of talented people at MLB Networks; Ben Friedfeld, Andrew Batti, William Joel, Kait Rose to name a few. An special mention to  Chris Pfeiffer, more than a client a great friend for many years.

Thank you to Tony Petitti and Mark Loomis, heads of MLB Network, for trusting me with the opportunity to work in such fun and challenging project.

Thank you all again, and as I said in my brief cemony speech... this award goes to all my family and friends in Venezuela... GRACIAS!!!

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TWO Emmy nominations for this year's gala

The National Academy of Television Art & Sciences announce today the nominees for the 34th Annual Sports Emmys, and I'm very excited that my MLB Networks "Scrapbook" Opening got two nominations for this edition of the awards. The piece was nominated in the "Best Opening-Tease" and "Best Graphic Design" categories.

I'd like to congratulate my good friend Chris Pfeiffer and all the hard working team at MLB Networks. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work in such fun project!

Check out the whole list of nominees here: http://www.emmyonline.org/mediacenter/sports_34th_nominees.html
 

 

3 NOMINATIONS TO THE NEW YORK FESTIVALS

The New York Festivals recently announced the finalist for the 2013 awards and I'm extremely happy to learn that three of the openings I work on as Creative Director have been recognized.

The pieces chosen as finalists are the 2012 Major League Networks Post Season Open, the Indianapolis 500 Open and one of the opening teases of the 2012 NASCAR Chase campaign. All three pieces are posted here in the WORKS section of my website.

See the entire finalist's list here: http://www.newyorkfestivals.com

"PRIMAL" solo art exhibit

Eight Of Swords Gallery
115 Grand Street. Brooklyn, NY

Please join us for the opening night of "Primal", our next art show featuring works by local artist, Miguel Oldenburg. The exhibition will open on January 11th and continue through February 14th, 2013. The event will be sponsored by Coney Island Lager.

"Primal" refers to the essentials, the basics, the early stages in evolutionary development. This exhibit proposes a juxtaposition of basic raw human sentiments. Under the optic of the artist, primal feelings are the core fundamentals in the way we relate to others. This series of oil paintings is a contemplation of concepts such as relationships, lust, love, protection, pride and fear. They are presented as animal instincts and humanized or focused over minimalistic backgrounds, raw and basic. Each of these concepts are complemented by emotional panels painted with direct body contact and related iconography.

 

the art of composition

Recently worked for the Cindy Crawford Collection of Rooms To Go commercial, and thought it was a good example of the impact that composition can do to the presentation of a brand.

Taking the end page design as example, decided to change the original footage provided by the client to suit a better background platform for the campaign logo. Here is the original footage of the beach, which seems more like a golf camp with the palm trees making an awkward compressed framing and composition.

Through Autodesk Flame, I started manipulating the footage by first stabilizing the shots, then working my way from the far skies in the background to the foreground elements. I added a layer of moving clouds and reformatted the gradation of blues in the sky; added live water, erased the gasoline pump in the dock, added a sail boat moving slowly with some irregular reflections in the water, replaced the grass with a more "coastal" beach sand to reinforce the brand message, moved the palm trees around to create a more balanced open framing and finally dropped the whole horizon to have an bigger feel.

I also redesigned and animated the Cindy Crawford Home brand to make it more TV friendly. Added some light hits to give a glossy statement and some flares to accent the elegance pretended by the brand. Here is the result...

 

2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase

Here we are, half way through the NASCAR Chase season! This year's NASCAR Chase feature Kid Rock and his new album's songs as the image for the weekly race openings on ESPN.

These openings are very much script driven and my job consist in the creation of the atmosphere for each piece. Using the Autodesk Flame, I pass each edit through a spot color correction process separating all the different key elements of the scene. This way I have individual tonality control over each element and let me bring out what needs more visual relevance.

Some few effects are also part of these weekly jobs like replacing skies, adding lights or correcting noise in some scenes. The idea is to create a warm Americana feel proper to NASCAR that is there just framing the story and not being intrusive.