Monster 500, the post-apocalyptic mega-race is on, and animation/visual effects studio Clockwork VFX is the creative winner. The studio teamed with agency Rotter Creative Group and Toys "R" Us to launch the new Monster 500 brand. The result is an engaging minute-long spot consisting of beautifully detailed 3D animation.With 13 team members working for five weeks to complete the complex animation sequences, Clockwork’s creative skills particularly their lighting, texturing and rendering capabilities -- were tested.
Learn what equipment was used when creating their winning spot, along with industry trends, a partnership with Xbox and much more from Clockwork’s Creative Director/Co-Founder Jason Tomlins.
* What software/equipment do you use to create your animation projects? What is it about the software that makes it a must-have in the studio?
We use Lightwave for 3D and Nuke for compositing. Lightwave is an incredibly robust program that is able to do everything we need right out the box. It is also a very intuitive program that makes creating content quicker and easier than other packages. When it comes to compositing, Nuke has become our choice of weapon - the industry standard for high end commercials as well as film.
* What was the most challenging/complex aspect in creating the Monster 500 commercial? (Congrats by the way, how do you feel about the finished product?)
Well, thanks very much. We loved this project from concept to final. It was just pure kooky, over the top, fun. Of course, as an artist you never truly ‘finish’ an animation there is always something you would love to change or fix. But all things considered, we are really happy with the way it turned out.
Biggest challenge: time. Both in terms of actual production schedule and the length of the piece. We really had to knuckle down to make the deadline. Fortunately for us, the agency and client were amazing - they gave us a great framework to start with and freedom to make decisions within those guidelines. And let us not forget, our team totally kicked ass on this one.
Our second challenge was to create a format that introduces multiple characters/personalities and finds a balance between maintaining high energy and avoiding it becoming too ‘busy’ and hard to take in. That is where the super slo mo shots came in - varying the pace and providing ‘breathers’ to the action.
* Where do you see the world of animation and graphics headed? What changes have you seen in the industry since you first started?
Over the past few years, I feel the business of animation has been more affected than the technology of animation. With reduced budgets, streamlined communication and the move to place most asset management in "the cloud", we are now a truly global enterprise and ultimately a lot more competitive. In terms of the artistic and technical changes, I think we are reaching a point of saturation - complex photorealism and effects are becoming the norm and high quality renders reserved for the bigger studios is now been executed by smaller, more cost effective studios. In many ways this has been positive for the short term growth of our industry yet potentially negative when we start to see the long term effects of the larger institutions closing. They have always been at the forefront of innovation (typically these studios have had huge RND teams that push the development of new technology) so it will be interesting to see who/what will take their place.
Animation is in a state of flux, the glamour of working in the industry has started to fade with new recruits wary of the long hours, high demands and smaller salaries. While this may sound somewhat negative, I think it has also had a very positive effect - we are becoming increasingly motivated to find better (more sustainable) ways of working.
For example, more and more animation studios are creating global partnerships with the common goal of leveraging the strengths gained from their geographical locations and skillsets - brilliant concept artists from Poland, excellent animators from Serbia, great lighting/rendering artists in South Africa and highly experienced producers in New York. Each unit is then linking up and operating within cloud programs such as Skype, Wistia, Muraly, Wiredrive, Frankie, Rebus Render Farm etc. The end result is a pipeline that goes back to ticking all the boxes on both sides of the table.
* What were you involved in, in regards to your partnership with the Kinect Sports Rivals for Xbox One?
Initially we were tasked with developing four stills as promotional pieces for the brand. The client provided very rough doodles of the action poses which we then fleshed into detailed 2D full color concepts and finally into 3D scenes. We were then asked to create several animated pieces to showcase how the new "cube" technology worked as well as cut scenes highlighting the shooting aspect of the game. Creating these animated pieces was a lot of fun and an honor to do, especially as they were shared with the launch of the new Xbox One.
* What’s something about VFX that most people do not know about, until they are actually working in the field?
The time and years of experience it takes to create that last 10% - the little bit that separates good from great.
The value of ‘fairy dust’ that super cute little cheat you figure out after having no joy attacking the problem from a ‘traditional’ angle.
* Have any other projects coming up you can share with us? What are they?
We just finished a really gorgeous new project for Monopoly and will be sharing it on the site in the coming weeks. Also look out for a delicious new Playdoh adventure and some of the sparkliest, girliest work we have ever done. 2014 looks set to be another good year with some fun, diverse projects in the pipeline.
content and images courtesy of Clockwork VFX