Western Union Before and After

Hey! Thanks for watching the Western Union spot. I'm gonna try and break down the process for the VFX shots in the spot so if even if you just have a passing interest in VFX you can get an idea of what goes into the making of shots like these. 

first_sling.jpg

This was actually the most difficult shot to create an effect for. I had pictured the actor, Eric, struggling to push himself back against this giant rubber slingshot. One of the biggest challenges was to sell the depth of field and to make it seem like the large wooden posts were close to the camera, and that Eric was backing away. On set, I was standing on a table with the camera locked down on a tripod while Eric did his best to pretend he was pushing back against a force that wasn't there. 

The wooden posts and slingshot were created in 3d package called Cinema 4D. I created a material tethered to the posts and put a cylinder in place of Eric, using that to push the slingshot back. In After Effects I had to duplicate Eric's layer and do some roto work. A tilt-shift filter helped me better sell the depth of field because the original shot just looked flat. 

 

second_sling.jpg

Similar to the first shot, getting the band to stretch at the correct time with Eric's body was pretty difficult. I had to rotoscope every frame to separate the elastic band so it appears to wrap around Eric. On set, Steve O is behind Eric providing realistic force for Eric to push against and really sell the effect. Steve's hands and arms also needed to be masked out of the shot.

flying.jpg

Rather than have Eric lie down against a green screen, we put the camera in a flip bracket photographers use and shot vertical. If he was lying down there would be weird shadows on his stomach and legs and it would limit his ability to shift around like he's flying. Everything else came together in After Effects - some camera shake, a still photo of a sky with camera shake, and some Particular particles to simulate clouds whipping by.

SMASH.jpg

To have Eric slam into the wall we simply had him pose against the green screen vertically. I used the Puppet Pin tool in After Effects to distort his body and used a texture to make the crack in the wall. 

In the end, Western Union did not buy the spot. Their brief did indicate that they have routinely played it safe with their ads. Slamming Eric's mangled body against the wall may have been too much for them, but I think every commercial should have some sort of maiming. 

-Sean (monstrinthedark)