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Hungry man’s Wayne McClammy directed 72andSunny’s live-action trailer “Seize Glory” for Activision’s new release, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. It is an action-packed story capturing the adrenaline and heart-pumping thrills of the game. Academy Award and BAFTA-winning cinematographer Dion Beebe (Memoirs of a Geisha, Edge of Tomorrow, Collateral) and a star-studded cast of Hollywood actors round out the piece.
The story follows a next level gamer named Kevin, an unlikely looking hero, traversing different war-torn levels like the ultimate bad ass. Michael B. Jordan plays the hype-man/narrator as Kevin takes out soldiers, robot enemies, flesh-eating Zombies, tanks, planes and buildings. There is a nod to the definitive “There’s A Soldier In All Of Us” spot in an orchestral finale of fire, explosions and a dramatic cameo.
The collaboration with McClammy and MPC is the latest in a series that take memorable performances and mesmerizing visuals to the next level. “We are getting the balance right allowing the VFX to support the story and reinforce the realities rather then relying on them too much,” said MPC Creative Director Paul O’Shea. “We wanted something immersive, visceral and believable, without a lingering feeling that things were digital.”
MPC Colorist Ricky Gausis graded “Seize Glory,” working closely with Beebe to balance the looks of an array of different scenes that ranged from exterior cityscapes and an interior biodome, to a Middle Eastern barbershop and stormy finale in a jungle.
“Ricky reconciled different creative visions and came up with something well balanced that keeps you focused on the story rather than being too aware of the style,” O’Shea said. “You don’t feel all the work he’s done and the end result looks iconic.”
Gausis added, “The main challenge was in making each location feel different without the grade distracting the viewer in any way. With the numerous explosions throughout I had to be very careful to keep the highlights relatively soft so as to not lose detail in certain areas. I also paid close attention to the shadows to retain detail in them."
“With having softer shadows and highlights it's very easy to have a flat and lifeless image, so I worked a lot in the mid tones to give the image richness.”
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MPC’s global network was crucial to meeting a demanding schedule, O’Shea explained. Between Bangalore, London and Los Angeles, the studio was operational 24/7. The scope of work entailed everything from creating zombies, photoreal water simulations and fully CG robots choreographed using actors on a rainy set with moving cameras. Tasks included hard surface modeling and work with in-game assets, matte painting, compositing from MPC’s film library of practical elements then creating specific CG pyrotechnic FX and embedding those into a very practical base.
“On set we’ve taken things to the next level with the speed and efficiency we gather survey and location data,” O’Shea said. “Our VFX Supervisor Zach Tucker brought a lot of feature film experience to the shoot, along with a passion for new technology and developing what the on-set post opportunity can be. We aim to make the smallest footprint possible for production, but generate fast, thorough focused data for post.
“By the time we received an edit, using image-based modeling techniques and proprietary databases we’d recreated environments and built out lighting scenes,” O’Shea continued, “when the plates were cleared to go online, CG renders were ready to drop in. That efficiency and planning is MPC using new tech to its best affect to allow more time to refine, develop and polish the back end of the job.”
VFX Supervisor Zach Tucker said, “Every opportunity was taken to develop the look and behavior of our characters and effects, along with the layout of our environments, during pre-production as well. Gathering data from the location and tech scouts allowed us to do previs in digital versions of the real locations, knowing that lenses, camera placement and compositions were legit. We were building war-torn environments, animating deadly robots and blowing things up before the cameras were rolling.”
O’Shea concluded: “The goal with the live-action ‘Seize Glory’ trailer was to strike a balance between practical and digital, bridging the gap between the audience experience of playing the Black Ops 3 game, and the game as a real experience. These spots are intense, the expectation is huge and it’s really satisfying to deliver pictures everyone involved with is proud of."