A52 Does Visual Effects for Gatorade's Defining Mia

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (Apr. 15, 2002) -- Visual effects and design company A52 today announced details of their visual effects work for Villains and director Phil Joanou for Element 79 Partners' fast-paced "Defining Mia" Gatorade Ice :30 spot, which debuted on Apr. 1.

U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm takes to the field in the campaign's "Defining Mia" spot with Gatorade Ice in her veins that helps her seize a heated game's "defining moment" and score the winning shot. During that critical moment, a sequence of X-ray shots shows the Ice at work inside Mia. Led by visual effects supervisor and Inferno artist Simon Brewster (who is also A52's creative director), A52's team created the CGI skeleton X-ray effect, handled extensive crowd and stadium replacement and created the spot's explosive end-tag. [an error occurred while processing this directive]
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"The agency came to us with an idea of creating an animated X-ray skeleton of Mia Hamm that would have icy liquid running through its veins as a way to illustrate the product," explained Simon Brewster. "In addition, the signature Gatorade colored drips now needed to be icy sweat that framed Mia's face in a compelling and convincing way."

The icy sweat effect on Mia's face was created primarly in Inferno and included CGI ice particles to create a realistic icy effect. For the fully CGI shots of the interior of Mia's body, A52's CGI team created a fully articulated skeleton that was based on accurate measurements of Mia. Facing the challenge of creating convincing ice effects, the CGI team designed a particle animation to run through the network of CGI veins that were part of the larger skeleton.

"After our CGI team created the particle animation, we tracked that onto Mia's face in Inferno, then applied various plugins and filters and adjusted the color and grain," explained Simon Brewster. "These effects were also applied to the liquid that was pouring onto Mia during the live action."

"They were really able to capture the idea of the physical manifestation of ice in the veins," said Element 79 Partners' project executive art director Doug Behm. "They allowed us to actually see ice circulating through a vein and made it feel organic, filmic, real and gritty. Our biggest desire was to keep it from feeling textbook -- and they were able to achieve that."

A52's team also created the illusion of a full stadium by handling extensive crowd replacement and adding stadium extensions. During the three nights of principal photography at LA's Coliseum, while Phil Joanou and DP Jeff Cronenweth's first unit filmed the spot's main action, A52's team filmed crowd footage to give them what they needed to turn a group of 200 spectators into a stadium full of fans.

Using elements from their footage plus still frames captured on- location with a digital camera, Brewster and the A52 team built- out the stadium and added the crowd into wide shots. "Phil used a live action fog effect in the mid-ground that helped create the ambiance of a packed stadium," Brewster said. "For some of the shots, the compositing was made up of complex layers with moving and shifting players around, as well as adding crowds behind soccer nets." After rotoscoping all the players from the principal photography, Brewster brought all the pieces together in Discreet Inferno.

"We obviously couldn't shoot 80,000 extras, so A52's ability to pull that together was great unto itself," added Doug Behm. "That was very helpful because knowing that A52 would be able to fill in the crowd gave Phil more freedom to shoot the game and made it a little easier to compose certain shots. The team at A52 did a fantastic job."

"Defining Mia" is the latest in a long series of Gatorade spots that incorporate Simon Brewster's color-grading talents. His now famous images of colored sweat appear in last year's "Higher" and "Leave It On the Floor" spots, as well as the current "Bleed" and "Party Call" commercials.

For Chicago's Element 79 Partners, chief creative officer dennis Ryan served as creative director and Jeff Felter served as this project's executive producer. Doug Behm was executive art director, Canice Neary was copywriter and Jeff Drooger and Jeff Felter produced.

A52's project team, led by executive producer Darcy Parsons and producer Scott Boyajan and Simon Brewster, included on-set visual effects supervisors Ron Cosentino and Michael Gibson (sharing this duty with Simon Brewster), Flame artists Mark Alan Loso and Marguerite Cargill, Henry Infinity artist and online editor Scott Johnson and 3D animators Denis Gauthier and Jeff Willette.

Bi-coastal Villains' production team, led by executive producers Robin Benson and Richard Goldstein and head of production Joby Barnhart, included producer Laurie Boccaccio, art director Alexis Ross and production supervisor Christien Tuttle.

Models for the end-tag were created by Evan Jacobs at Vision Crew Unlimited in Los Angeles.

The editorial team from Santa Monica's FilmCore included producer Therese Hunsberger, editor Paul Norling and assistant editor Kevin Anderson.

Music was produced by Venice-based Machine Head's Shari Christensen and composed by Stephan Dewey, who also handled sound design. Final audio was mixed by Mitch Dorf and assistant Noah Lifschey at Santa Monica's POP Sound.

About A52 Established in 1997 as a home for the very latest high-end computer graphics technologies and the world's most talented graphic design artists, West Hollywood visual effects and design company A52 creates award-winning imagery for the world's most visually ambitious commercial and music video projects. Recent commercial projects include Nike "Move" (Shoot Magazine Top Spot of the Week), Nike "Freestyle" (Shoot Magazine Top Spot of the Week, 2001 London International Advertising Award winner and one of AdWeek's Best Spots of 2001), Experience Music Project (2001 BDA Gold Award), Audi "Rain" (AICP 2001 Visual Style honoree), Jeep "Hand" (Gold WorldMedalist at The 2000 New York Festivals Television & Cinema Advertising Awards and AICP 2000 Visual Style honoree), Toyota (winner of two Clios plus 2000 International Monitor Award for Best 3D Animation) and Levi's (Shoot Magazine Top Spot of the Week), as well as music videos for the Wallflowers, A Perfect Circle, Macy Gray, 'N Sync, No Doubt and Mick Jagger. For more information, please call 310.385.0851.

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