Computer Graphics World

Edition 1 2018

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e d i t i o n 1 , 2 0 1 8 | c g w 2 1 Friends are made for memorable adven- tures. And in a commercial for Heineken, "The Trailblazers," a group of friends take an adventure of a lifetime during an ultimate boy's night out. In the epic spot, from agency Publicis Italy and Director Matthijs van Heijningen at MJZ, four guys start out their evening in New York, but soon find themselves transported to some of the world's most extreme locations – from the summit of Mount Everest to outer space, complete with explosions, flying debris, and more. Similarly, MPC's group of VFX artists were challenged as they embarked on an epic journey of their own, creating the locations and myriad effects to make the story possible. "This is a huge piece of work. We're talking about six films in one, craed by over 70 artists in 90 days," says Carsten Keller, VFX supervisor and MPC's head of 3D. "The VFX scale speaks for itself, and that sort of creative achievement isn't possible without true collaboration, but the story remains about the journey these guys go on together. We hope that people watching truly believe that they're there, in those worlds." Teams from across MPC's London, Amsterdam, and Bangalore studios worked together, creating the diverse locales. Some of the tasks included building two entirely CG ships, which required extensive previs before the shoot itself; creating a space- cra, which van Heijningen wanted to film up close; re-creating a Himalayan back- drop; and craing a Roman army 10,000 strong. All told, the commercial contains 71 highly complex shots. "The spot is a feature-film scale project, with the level of cra it required," says Dirk Riesenfeld, who led the VFX team in MPC's Amsterdam studio, where the composit- ing team for the spot was based. "While immersing our audience into the extreme worlds, we had to keep reality at the front of people's minds." "The Trailblazers" starts out as the four friends decide to frequent a new estab- lishment, and en route are enveloped in a thick haze, emerging clad in ancient Roman garb, as MPC turned 100 extras into 10,000 Roman soldiers bearing torches and on the march. As they charge amid falling ash, the scene quickly cuts to a wind-swept rain pounding the deck of an old sailing vessel as enormous ocean waves crash over and flood the wooden deck. The ocean tosses the ship violently, forcing the men to cling to the rope rigging for dear life. Then, sud- denly, a pirate ship emerges from the water. For a few shots during which the actors interact with the boat, a full-size physical ship with rigging was used. "The practical boat was really impressive," says Christian Bohm, VFX artist. "Of course, the better the plate, the more rewarding and creatively successful the CG work is." Conversely, the wide shot with the stormy, churning water is all-CG. The artists also ex- tended missing pieces of the practical model. "The sea was the only sequence we created almost fully in [Side Effects'] Hou- dini," says Bohm, who got his feet wet, so to speak, with the soware on this project. "With Houdini, you will always find different approaches to the same problem, depend- ing on who is using the soware. Houdini is less of a set of tools and more of a sandbox to create your own, unique approach." In addition, MPC constructed two full- CG sail ships – a replica of the sailing vessel and the old, weathered pirate ship. Bohm notes that the ship was based on Made for Adventure

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