A US military pilot sits in the cockpit of a jet with a helmet on

US Marines: Shifting Threats

An epic collaboration between Wunderman Thompson and Framestore Pictures.

“Prior to shooting I spoke with all the Marines who volunteered for this film about why they joined and why they wanted to participate – it was important for me to get to know them and represent them with authenticity,” said Butler. “We developed a mutual trust and in each scenario allowed the team leaders to work out how they would navigate the terrain. Although we knew which broad story beats to cover, we let these things develop organically on each day of filming, and rather than get them to perform for the camera, we worked with the camera around them.”

Working alongside Framestore’s VFX team led by Patrick Ross and Karch Coon, Butler balanced heavily conceptual visual effects moments with portraits of the Marines themselves, showing their resolve in the face of these multiple challenges. Being able to curate camera work closely with Director of Photography Jeff Cronenweth allowed them to capture the stunning imagery of the Marines on location in Okinawa, Japan. 

Marines Pilot
Marines Still

“A large chunk of the visual development work took place during the pitch phase, allowing the VFX team to draw on concept images and animation tests in execution,” explained Ross, Framestore CG Supervisor. “Taking these initial ‘rough sketch’ ideas that the creative team approved and building the finished article was a huge task, and one that the VFX team rose to brilliantly. I’m immensely proud of them.“

The transitions provided a unique challenge for the artists – each one requiring a new methodology and aesthetic approach. From an entire city collapsing into the sea, to ravens digitally transforming into enemy drones, and a tropical jungle terraforming into snow covered alpine mountains, Framestore’s VFX team had their work cut out. They created dozens of bespoke assets and developed complex methods of transformation. Other scenes required more invisible work, for example when it came to a lack of snow in tropical Okinawa, the entire scene was shot in a gym on white screen with a full environment replacement, with cold breath and CG snow added in. Compositing lead Karch Coon’s eye for realism helped ground these scenes amongst the more VFX heavy vignettes. 

With a musical score by legendary composer, Hans Zimmer, and color grade by Dave Hussey of Company 3, the spot has a high impact finish.

Marines Drone Controller
Marines Drones Exploding still

Wunderman Thompson
Murray Butler
Framestore Pictures
Jennifer Siegel
Managing Director
Michel Waxman
Executive Producer
Laura Morris
Framestore Pictures Line Producer
Jeff Cronenweth
Vicky Osborn
Creative Director / On-set VFX Supervisor
Patrick Ross
CG Supervisor
Karch Coon
Compositing Supervisor
Lawrence Jones, ChisFriesen, Brian Drucker, Corrina Wilson, Karch Coon, Adam Thompson, Nikola Yordanov, Aaron Wei, Ben Walant
Concept Development
Sean Dollins
On-set Layout Supervisor
Nate Diehl
Head of CG
Jess Soderstrom
Asset Supervisor
Piotr Kujko, Youran Lyu
Asset Artists
Sean Curran, Jim Hundertmark
Senior Animators
Antonio Guidetti
Alec Iselin, Adam Thompson, Chris Friesen, Mohamed Echkouna, Ryan Wang, Erik Zimmermann, Mohaned Ibrahim
FX Technical Directors
Jeremy Livingston
Rigging Technical Director
Jim Vidal
Senior Technical Lighting Director
David Drese, Austin Yawney, Wei-Ting Duo
Lighting Technical Directors
Ryan Robinson
Generalist Technical Director
Kenyon Bertelsen
CG Artist
Corrina Wilson, Kane Herd, Zavier Mojica, Marcelo Pasqualino, Navid Bagherzadeh, Alejandro Taylor
Yuji Huang, Luke Abraham
Paint & Roto
Ben Walant, Henry South
Digital Matte Painter
Eugen Bekafigo
VFX Editor
Devon Taylor
Flame Finish
Nick Fraser
Executive Producer
Michael Brown
Senior Producer
Company 3
Dave Hussey
Whitehouse Post London
Adam Rudd
Formosa Group
Casey Genton
Audio Engineer
Bleeding Fingers