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.