For this spot for the new Mercedes C250 Sport with Merkley & Partners, Framestore was asked to create the feeling of a space shuttle re-entry. As a result the fast cut piece features a myriad of effects to achieve that feeling of speed and force.
Shooting at Willow Springs Raceway in California, three cars were used: a full practical test car, a twin that was rigged to fall to pieces and finally a silver hero car. Director Carl Erick Rinsch was very pragmatic, exclaiming we just have to 'shoot the s*!t out of it', which we did! Then it was down to the edit to find the moments that would most dynamically create the feeling of re-entry.
The first half of the spot takes place in a mostly real world, we just had to remove key signs and shrubbery from the back plates to create a lunar landscape feel. But then, as the car begins to shed its test gear through sheer speed, the effects work takes over. Close-up shots of the sensors detaching were achieved in camera, but some library debris elements were added to enhance them.
Then we move to the 'Medusa' moment, with cables flailing and trailing behind the car, animated in Maya, before coming lose and flying off. At this point in the shoot, we moved to the silver car, but had to re-create the look of the orange peel coat which would then crack and strip away. All peeling was dynamically created in Maya to then be run through Houdini for secondary animation.
The CG team had a lot of creative freedom to create the impression of peeling paint. This had to be a balance between graceful cloth, which wasn't desired, and more rigid paint-like surface. The harsh sunlit plates were an excellent base for experimenting with creating some dramatic lighting effects. The team employed HDR Light Studio Pro software to have accurate control over every ping on the CG car paint, and rendered the scenes in the physically based Arnold Renderer. Altogether, it’s quite a ride.