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Nissan Rogue - Commute TVC Breakdown by Digital Domain
Posted on April 18, 2014 at 07:54 pm IST
In order to replicate the live action areas for the train shot, in particular, Digital Domain had to create a virtual camera 50 feet off the ground
For ‘Commute’, a Nissan Rogue spot from Chiat Day and Critical Mass, Digital Domain and Mothership combined to depict a group of consumers escaping the traffic via some rather unconventional means. The spot was filmed in San Francisco and Oakland as well as on a bluescreen stage in LA, with DD fleshing out environments and placing the Rouge atop a train and around the city. The work also included visual effects for an online test drive of the vehicle called ‘Detour’

Nissan Rogue TVC
Nissan Rogue TVC Breakdown
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“The plan was to shoot as much practically as possible,” says Digital Domain visual effects supervisor Richard Morton. “We knew that the Rouge jumping off of a ramp and driving on the digital train would be CG, but the rest of it really came down to the location scout. For example, in the previs stage we didn’t plan to add a CG building into the frame, to the right of the intersection prior to the Rogue jumping onto the train, but the location had a big empty lot there that just didn’t work in the spot, so we added one.”

“We also previs’d that location to be more of a construction site and the Rogue would jump of a large dirt mound ramp, as in the old TV series Dukes of Hazard,” adds Morton, “but on the day of the shoot it was decided to make it more about a traffic jam and the ramp was switched to a concrete overpass. The location for Rouge on the train was the last one chosen, mostly because it’s long straight stretch of road, buildings not too close to the road, and it’s one of the only roads in San Francisco that didn’t have trolly wires hanging above it.”

In order to replicate the live action areas for the train shot, in particular, Digital Domain had to create a virtual camera 50 feet off the ground. The problem was that the live action camera could only be 30 feet high, so DD embarked on a photogrammetry approach, shooting multiple HDRIs and photographs of the street. “We had an amazing police escort that took us up and down the street over and over in rush hour traffic to shoot the plates,” explains Morton.

NissanCommute_G_03“We shot this location twice so that the lighting would work well in both directions, we had to survey it twice also. Using the plates the specific scenes were determined for the cut. Using all the photography, we roughly reconstructed the entire street. We then reprojected the plates and photographs back on to the building’s geometry. Then DD virtually rephotographed the digital location 50 feet in the air. We created matte paintings for all the windows and ray-traced new moving reflections. We added a CG traffic jam, pedestrians, platform, train and of course the Rogue. The fly through shot of the car had an additional blue screen plate that had to be integrated into the CG location.”

DD’s toolkit for the spot consisted mostly of Maya, V-Ray and NUKE. For the virtual test drive, the studio adapted the lighting so that it would work in all locations. “In the end we decided to light the car a little more studio like,” says Morton. “We reflected shapes of buildings into the Rogue but we colored them red so not to draw attention to them. For many shots we delivered render layers such as reflection and fresnel to the web developer.”