Visa "Super Heroes"

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Allen and Davis: The actor bursts through a faux ground in a studio. The footage was added during post.

Humble: They used CG lighting, Underdog was animated and his shadow was added to really stick him to the scene so he doesn't feel pasted on. The concrete erupting was a combination of shooting concrete being broken open with a large object. Then that object was painted out and the super hero was shot being thrust up and composited in. They most likely shot multiple layers for the concrete, one for dust one for larger pieces and one for smaller pieces really getting thrown. Then all the layers were put together.

the bag of tricks

Visa's "Super Heroes," directed by ACNE of RSA USA through BBDO/New York, playfully sends up the age-old damsel-in-distress scenario. The spot shows a woman frantically crying for help as she stands on top of a parking garage that sits under a foreboding night sky. Suddenly, a cast of Marvel comic book characters comes to her aid: Thor wields his lightning-charged hammer, Captain America bursts through the garage's concrete floor, and Spiderman swings into action. Several other Marvel super heroes also appear, but they needn't have bothered, since the victim is apparently not liable for fraudulent charges on her stolen Visa check card. After the heroes leave, Underdog appears, but the embarrassed woman dismisses the pooch with a curt "Never mind."

VFX house Charlex, New York, collaborated with Marvel Comics and Classic Media (for Underdog) to bring the iconic characters to life via an array of effects work. One major task was getting Spiderman into full swing. Charlex effects technical director Bill Watral and his team created a full CG model of the hero for the shot in which he sweeps through the air. Watral used stills that were taken on set as reference material for integrating the CG creation with images of the actor playing Spidey. "We worked from those to make it as precise as we possibly could," he says. "We also used a lot of reference from the movie to be sure things integrated from there over to the costumed character, as well." As for Captain America's earth-shattering arrival, ACNE shot the patriotic hero catapulting through a styrofoam raised platform as he was tracked against green screen, notes VFX supervisor Alan Neidorf. The rubble storm that ensues was a combination of extensive CG and Flame work and a small amount of live action. Other aspects of the job included bringing the correct glow to Storm's eyes, and Charlex teamed with Classic Media and animation shop Buzzco Associates, New York, to give Underdog authenticity.

Overall, Flame artist Burtis Scott says that nailing the look of the sky was key. "The first time you see Thor with the lightning, the sky sets the balance for what the rest of the skies were going to look like," he says. "They were very concerned about it not looking too stormy like it was going to rain. There was a lot of color correction to make the sky look the way they wanted it to." Chris Palazini, Smoke editor, points out that it was important "to get the environment of all the scenes to feel more natural. We made some lighting adjustments to blend all the visual effects work with some of the practical lighting effects they had done on location."