New Balance, The Storm

  • Agency Arnold Worldwide;
  • Production Company RESET;
  • Director Johnny Hardstaff;

MPC NY brings on the storm with Johnny Hardstaff and Arnold for New Balance

Conceived out of Arnold Worldwide and directed by RESET’s Johnny Hardstaff with VFX from MPC NY, the bold new spot launching New Balance’s “Always in Beta” global brand campaign embodies the brand’s promise to relentlessly improve, evolve and push its limits.

MPC’s CG & 2D team created over 50 complex VFX shots within six weeks, reimagining a fully CG storm breaking over the Moroccan-shot mountainside and engulfing the protagonist in an intense plume of sports figures running, batting, smashing onwards towards even greater athletic accomplishments. VFX artists seamlessly composited the infinite host of athletes across the sequence of shots as they charge together through the dramatic storm.

Creative Travis Robertson said: "This project was full of creative and logistical riddles. Shooting a CG job of this scale on three continents, with 17 professional athletes and a small army of extras proved to be a truly massive undertaking.

But when the dust settled (no pun intended), we were left with an amazing visual spectacle we are all incredibly proud of. MPC did a fantastic job bringing the bizarre, colorful and violently poetic storm to life. From the countless hours of smoke tank and saltwater filming to the violent and dynamic bursts of color to the motion tracking and effects supervision throughout the storm, no detail was overlooked."

The VFX-fuelled spot was filmed across Miami, London and Morocco over four weeks, featuring 17 pro-athletes including Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Jenny Simpson, Milos Raonic, Heather Watson and Aaron Ramsey. In addition to in-store, digital, and print advertising, the brand campaign features an online “Beta Hub” experience at newbalance.com/beta, which invites consumers to immerse themselves in all things Beta with stories featuring the brand’s athletes and product innovations.

Watch our VFX breakdown here.

In close collaboration with the director and Arnold’s creative team, MPC’s artists, led by VFX supervisors Rob Walker and Vicky Osborn, took the creative reins to explore and enrich the storm sequences.

With a two-pronged approach to create the storm – the exterior and the interior – Rob comments on the process: “The starting point for the interior of the storm came from a cloud tank element shoot in Miami, which provided most of the dramatic backgrounds. We shot some pretty amazing footage, and lots of it, at up to 100 frames-per-second with 5K resolution that allowed us to zoom into a part of the plate without compromising quality. In the end, we whittled down roughly 10 hours into 12 minutes of beautiful footage that formed the basis for the inside of the storm. We combined this with a simulated CG storm.”

In parallel, Houdini artists began R&D on the exterior of the storm, exploring its movement and developing its look. A key part of the agency brief was to have the storm mirror the structure of a wave, which proved to be challenging as the Houdini simulations were based on real world physics and scale. The rendered simulation would often produce quite random results, each one being totally unique.

“Our next stage was to simulate the interior storm,” Rob continues. “Johnny's boards had interesting sketches where you feel the storm chasing the athletes and partly swallowing them in it. This was something we found interesting and wanted to develop. A key part of our creative decisions in designing the storm was the need to recognize the athletes rather than having them obscured or lost within it.”

The team designed a 'kit of parts' rendered in Houdini, offering flexibility and control in compositing the athletes’ prominence on-screen. This technique enabled the team to choreograph all manner of motion and intensity, and play with varying scale in the same shots.

The result is flawless cohesion across the film, ensuring the “Always in Beta” state of mind remained center stage in the dynamic yet ethereal New Balance storm.

Credits

  • Agency Arnold Worldwide
  • Production Company RESET
  • Director Johnny Hardstaff
  • ECDs/Managing Partners Pete Johnson & Wade Devers
  • SVP Creative Director/Copywriter Greg Almeida
  • SVP Creative Director/Art Director Travis Robertson
  • Agency Executive Producer William Near
  • Agency Assistant Producer Patrick Carney
  • Production Company Executive Producers Dave Morrison & Jeff McDougall
  • Production Company Producer Annabel Ridley
  • Editor Paul Hardcastle @ Cosmo Street
  • VFX MPC NY
  • Managing Director Justin Brukman
  • Executive Producer Camila De Biaggi
  • VFX Senior Producer Armand Weeresinghe
  • VFX Supervisor/2D Lead Rob Walker
  • VFX Supervisor/3D Lead Vicky Osborn
  • VFX Team Vanessa Lee, Andres Weber, Zach Zhao, Francois Duchesneau, Mitch Deoudes, Shawn Lipowski, Craig Sylvester, Kelly Bruce, Carl Fong, Alex Harding, Reginald Emvula, Graeme Revell, Aleksandar Djordjevic, Jeric Pimentel, Jonathan McKee, Tobey Lindback, Alex J., Anupam Kumar, Bruno Roosewelt, K. Gandhiraj, Mithilesh.G, Manasa G.K., Sravan Kumar, Yasasvini V., Manjunath Ramakrishnaiah, Minju Thottiparambil Sukumaran, Priya Bandodkar, Raju Ganesh S., Abdul Labeeb, Amresh Kumar, Rajkumar R, S. Samson Samuel, Shalwin Shaiju, Vaishali Awaghade, Akhil K.P., Ambalika Nandy, Craig Savio Padua, Deepali Negi, Joshi John, M.D. Karthikeyan, Sreejimol C.P., Vamsi Krishna Reddy, D. Venkatesan, Debalina Dasgupta, Earnest Victor, Elangovan Ganeshan, Prashanth Palaparthi, Ranajoy Kar, Sathya Narayanan, Gowri Shankar & Velusamy D.
  • Grade MPC - Remote Grading
  • Colorist George K

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