Framestore drives new Mitsubishi spots with LED panel production. Filmed in just two days in a studio, the VFX team on the new commercial used LED volumes as the virtual backdrop for five distinct locations which provided better live action plates, naturalistic lighting and complete control over a studio shoot.
Framestore worked closely with director Ryan Booth for Pulse Films and creative agency Amplify on Get Into Out; which introduces the new Mitsubishi Outlander. Booth’s creative vision for the film required a single-shot camera move through the interior of the car, seamlessly cutting between five sets of passengers, each in a different location.
The complex camera work was just one of the reasons why LED panels were the best solution for this project over a location or a blue or green screen shoot. It also brought about a number of other benefits including providing full immersion for the actors, instant visual feedback for the director and a reduction in the post-production work needed.
Thanks to the LED panels the production had complete control over the exterior, allowing them to stop and start until they achieved the camera move in each ‘location’ and allowed the crew to set up and shoot without the complexities or challenges of location shooting like changing weather and moving unit bases. Most importantly from Framestore’s point of view, using an LED volume like this reduces the resources needed in post-production and also provides realistic interactive lighting and reflections which is the key to making car product shoots look good on screen.
For the content that was played out on the LED panels onset, Framestore stitched together live action plates of five different exteriors, from a suburban street and a forest to the well-known Vasquez Rocks in California. Then to shoot the commercial, a specially-designed motion control rig was needed for the complex interior camera move, which was repeated for each of the five scenarios with different passengers and exteriors. The combination of the two things meant the live action rushes captured on set looked as if they were shot on location with all the benefits of a studio shoot.
‘Shooting car commercials with green screens requires a lot of post-production resources and means missing out on natural lighting interplay with the subjects. And while it is something we’re very good at achieving digitally, an LED approach gives us the real thing,’ commented Jules Janaud, the VFX Supervisor on the project. ‘It was without a doubt the best solution for this project because it gave the team complete control and produced a better looking live action plate than if we were to shoot using green screens.’
Michael Ralla was Framestore’s on-set supervisor for the shoot, he has extensive experience shooting with LED panels. The set-up for Get Into Out included the main LED panels behind the car as well as a number of movable panels, giving the production almost 360° of LED panel coverage. This means that at whatever angle the camera was positioned, the live action plates captured had the right exterior shots through the windows.
Commenting on what it was like to shoot the commercial, Michael said: ‘We really loved the collaboration with Ryan [Booth]. His curiosity, filmmaking skills and vision were what pushed the idea of using an LED set up for the project and we all enjoyed being part of the team to realise that vision, bringing our expertise of shooting with an LED studio setup to the project.’
The entire spot was previsualised ahead of the shoot in order to best plan out how the visuals would need to be played out on the panels to match perfectly with the complex camera move. Yet another benefit of LED production, work that would traditionally need to be achieved in post-production can be completed during pre-production. It gives directors the flexibility to make creative decisions earlier and means a shoot’s live action plates are almost-finalised, eliminating the need to ‘fix’ anything in post.
A number of establishing shots of the car top and tail the film, these were shot on location and transition into the in-car camera using two fully-CG fly-through shots of the car’s engine, designed by Framestore’s 3D team. The team researched exactly how the engine would be seen from the macro perspective and how the camera would need to move to capture it.
With crew members located all over the world, communication was key. Ryan is based in New York and ahead of the shoot Michael was prepping on the West Coast while the London Framestore team underwent the previs process. Following the shoot in LA, the post-production work was finished back in London with the team keeping in constant communication with Ryan for reviews and feedback.