Music Q&A: Something From Nothing

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In Sprint's "The Build," a BMW materializes and unfolds from a single gear shift knob, self-constructing from the inside out. VFX supervisor Kevin Rafferty tells us how he and the artists at The Orphanage made it happen.

How did you work with StyleWar?

Fortunately, we were teamed up fairly early in preproduction, and were able to bounce ideas off each other in an extremely collaborative environment. We decided that most of the shots would utilize motion control, as this would give us the most freedom and creativity in postproduction. Meanwhile, our team of artists at The Orphanage was hard at work already, creating previsualization vignettes of the BMW building itself. These vignettes inspired the directors, who actually based many camera setups on our pre-viz. On the shoot, I was always by the directors' side, advising them how to best set up each shot to not only facilitate our work in post but also get them what they visually desired.

What kind of research did you do on the vehicle?

We were very fortunate to be able to collaborate directly with BMW, who sent us data on the new 3 Series. We knew we were spot-on accurate with regard to all the car parts assembling themselves, as it was the actual data with which BMW designed and built the real car. On set, we had three BMWs. Two were hero film cars, while one was purchased for the sole purpose of disassembling. We photographed each and every piece of the vehicle that we could pull from it.

How did you do the shot of the car reflected in the window?

This was one shot that was not motion control, so we did not have the convenience of a registered clean plate. We did, however, shoot a reference take with our tear-apart BMW, stripped of its doors and trunk lid. This gave us a clear idea of where the CG BMW should be reflected in the windows. Ultimately, we decided to duplicate the CG car geometry, flop it and place it where it is visually compelling and believable as a reflection primarily, and accurate to physics secondarily. Once rendered, our compositing artist finessed the look of the reflection even farther.

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