Behind the Scenes of Disney “Playmation”

Vancouver VFX house The Embassy reveals their extensive and detailed efforts behind the ambitious web film for Playmation, Disney’s new line of wearable tech toys and connected apps featuring Marvel’s Avengers and Star Wars.

David Casey, VFX super at The Embassy: “The script title for the film is ‘I Freed My Imagination’. Our brief was to follow the adventures of kids using their imaginations to play as their favorite heroes and heroines.

“Creatively we had to be true to the worlds of the Avengers and Star Wars. We have worked with Marvel on numerous occasions before and have a good relationship with them. This was beneficial in gaining access to assets from Age of Ultron, specifically the Sub Ultrons, before the movie came out.

“We have the Iron Man suit asset in-house from work on the previous movies. We adapted the suit to the latest version as seen in Age of Ultron and added the Disney specific ‘hex-chest’, which reflects the design of the Avengers-themed Playmation toys.

“Our inspiration for the Star Wars scene was the Lars Homestead on Tatooine. To my knowledge, this has never been created digitally on screen before, except possibly in video games. We had regular calls with teams at Lucasfilm and ILM and the guidance they provided was invaluable.

“They were able to supply us with some initial assets but we remodeled and retextured most including the Lambda-class shuttle and the moisture evaporator. ILM was also able to provide us with reference photographs of the original shuttle miniature from ‘Return of The Jedi’. This was an excellent texture reference and everybody was very excited to see these images.

“The real technical challenge was logistical in nature. Every day we would have numerous incoming assets and references from various vendors and stakeholders throughout the course of the project. It was a big undertaking and our production team did an excellent job managing all of this.

“VFX shot production from edit lock to final delivery was about 10 weeks with a few weeks around the shoot dates for asset development. We also did some pre-vis work in the week or so leading up to the shoot.”

Watch the finished spot:

Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day
Executive Creative Director: Fabio Costa
Senior Art Director: Andrew Reizuch
Senior Copywriter: Avram Klein
Senior Art Director: James McKenna
Brand Leader: Tyra Hillsten
Account Director: Dominique Branham
Executive Producer: Anh-Thu Le
Assistant Producer: Micah Kawaguchi-Ailetcher

Production: Interrogate
Director: Misko Iho
Director of Photography: Simon Duggan
Managing Director/Founder: Jeff Miller
Executive Producer/Partner: George Meeker
Producer: David Robertson

Editor: Stephen Berger @ Cut & Run
Sound: Skywalker Sound
Grade: Henri Pulla @ PULLApost

VFX: The Embassy
VFX Supervisor: David Casey
Executive Producer: Winston Helgason
VFX Producer: Danielle Kinsey
CG Supervisor: Michael Blackbourn
Lighting Supervisors: Simon Van de Lagemaat, David Pekarek
Asset Supervisor: Paul Copeland
Matchmove Artists: Dmitri Bajenov, Anna Kang
Animators: Karinga Wells, Simone Brundisini
FX Artists: Himanshu Joshi, Josh Methven, Tanner Scott
Compositors: Kelsey Ayukawa, Yoon See Ng, Mei Chu
Roto/Paint Lead: Cesar Rodriguez

Tracking – Syntheyes
Animation – XSI
Simulation – Houdini
Rendering – Arnold & Mantra
HUD motion graphics – After Effects
Compositing – Nuke

Immediate Byte