9.09.2011 | by Mark | view comments

A few people have asked how we created the visual effects in the ‘Make it Awesome’ TV commercial for the MyState Student Film Festival. I thought I’d write a post giving you a basic breakdown of the process.

Here’s the finished commercial if you haven’t seen it.

When we first discussed the idea of creating a robot substitute teacher from the future, I was excited but slightly nervous about getting started. I knew the basic process of creating the effect, but to do it convincingly was going to be a challenge, particularly with our tight schedule and budget.

The first step was developing the 3D robotic face. I modelled a basic metal plate with screws and an indented eye socket. Then, using a variety of other model parts; chains, a bank vault, bike parts, clock cogs, sculpted a robotic looking face. Originally, I intended for the metal plate to attach to the face. Below are a couple of test renders I made in the early stages, attached to Mick, our killer robot.

But it looked like a metal plate attached to a man’s face. So, I attempted to embed the robotics under the skin – Terminator style.

Once I had it working on a still, I had to attach it to a moving face in the footage. This is done using a process called match-moving. Using a powerful piece of software called PF Track, and placing a number of green dots on Mick’s face as tracking points, I was able to match Mick’s head movements to a plain 3D model of a head. I could then attach the 3D robotic face to the movements of the model head.

The arm-cannons were done with the same process – 3D animated objects created in Cinema 4D, then tracked to dots attached to Mick in the footage.

The remainder of the special effects (SFX) were created in After Effects, thanks largely to the marvelous Andrew Kramer at His collection of pre-keyed explosions, smoke, debris, fire and dust made life much easier. The majority of the SFX were a combination of these pre-keyed elements and a heap of motion tracking, masking, optical flares, camera shake and 2D lighting. Below is a comparison between the pre-effected and effected footage.

That’s how we created Make it Awesome. Feel free to ask any questions.