September 11th, 2014

Puma recently made a call to all troublemakers in aid of its latest campaign starring Mario Balotelli, Usain Bolt and Rickie Fowler to name but a few. The ad promotes bold, young and flashy athletes following their instincts and ditching the rules to live life in the fast lane and is accompanied by the hashtag #ForeverFaster.

The Mill brought these champions together in each distinct environment. Custom landscapes were painted by CG artists as a backdrop to the hot tub scenes. The 3D team created a fully CG stadium, with three different types of crowds created in detail for each football players' unique vignette and colourist Mick Vincent added a dark edge to the spot, grading the project in London whilst the agency clients were based in New York, aided by The Mill’s remote grading facilities.

Mick tells us a bit more about how he worked to achieve the final look on Puma’s ‘Calling All Trouble Makers’ how remote grading software is an important edition to today’s ever demanding industry.

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Tell me a bit about TVIPs software and how it can be used in projects today:

All of The Mill studios use Baselight grading systems together with Dolby monitors, which have the same calibration settings. This means that we are able to look at the same pictures and send projects back and forth quickly and easily.

For example, it is possible for the colourist, director and camera footage to be in London with the agency viewing the grade live in New York.

It has always been a problem when the decision makers aren't available for the session, as sending stills for approval can be a real compromise and slows the creative process, breaking the rhythm of a grade. With moving images, it’s also about how shots work together and not just how one good frame looks, and remote grading provides the perfect solution for this.

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Briefs for grades are varied; some are detailed with picture references and lots of books, others are vague "do something interesting," but all are collaborations based on how the images respond.

The most recent project we used TVIPs software on was Puma’s ‘Calling All Trouble Makers’, wherein the agency graded a shot of Mario Balotelli locally in NY which was then uploaded onto my Baselight using Aspera. I then used this as a reference point to complete the grade back in London alongside director Gerard De Thame and then share with the agency back in New York.

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What was the goal with the final look of the ad and how did you achieve this?

The aim for Puma was to create something dark and shadowy using cyan and green tones giving the star studded spot a cinematic edge. In order to achieve the look we were aiming for, I usually look at a sequence and formulate ideas based on experience, references and client ideas.

I then block out a rough grade for key shots to back up my ideas before finessing. I don't like to compromise unnecessarily, so we work to get the best from each shot then find a way to fit them together.

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With Puma I tried with the same look for each setup and matched them, however, we soon realized this wouldn’t work due to the mismatched footage and placement of each athlete – the grade for Balotelli just wouldn’t look right for that of Lexi for example, so we experimented with various options to find the perfect balance for each shot.

This shows how important it is to have TVIPs available, commitments don't always allow for everyone to be in one place at the same time and on a project like this that involved maximum collaboration, it’s immeasurably useful to be able to share data so quickly.

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What were the challenges you faced?

The main challenge was to carry out complex comps, allowing all the plates to be graded to fit together before shredding them back into individually graded shots. Completing this layering seamlessly while grading was a challenge, but I always feel that the technical aspects of a project should not get in the way of the creative process, and using Baselight software enabled us to do this without compromising the grade.

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Did you collaborate closely with the director?

I have known and worked with Gerard for many years, therefore had not forgotten that he appreciates input and also knows exactly what he wants. Our history made it a really relaxes collaborative working environment, which enabled us to find the right look for the ad quickly.

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// Using the Mill’s remote grading facilities that have now been set up globally in London, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Germany, France, Norway and Portugal, Mick has worked on range of projects using TVIPs such as Ford 'Punctuality' and Nike 'KDI - Kevin Durant Investigates'.

Watch the ad below and find out more about Puma's 'Calling All Troublemakers' here.