Pushing Boundaries with The Marmalade & Sherwin-Williams
Although Psyop is widely known as an established CG production company these days, our latest color-filled spot for Sherwin-Williams was created entirely in the absence of CG techniques. To craft this piece which features sharp, vivid footage of paint flowing through water at varying pressures and speeds, we teamed up with self proclaimed "visual engineers" The Marmalade. While watching the final product, most would insist that there's nothing natural about the way the paint moves so seamlessly throughout this spot as if choreographed, but Director Eben Mears and Lead Compositor Evan Schoonmaker break it down below by giving some inside thoughts on the process of how "Epiphany" came to be.
Eben Mears: I've tried to work with the people at The Marmalade for the last two years. This job was an absolute dream come true! Repeat work from the folks at McKinney meant we got to work with The Marmalade and with their high speed robot "Spike". They have their own software, which looks like Nuke / Flame but for controlling cameras and EFX gear. So everything in the spot is shot! A perfectly orchestrated camera moves through paint, which was a ton of fun! Their tech and our creative brought the work to a whole new level!
Evan Schoonmaker: From conception you could see that this spot was meant to push boundaries, both technically and artistically. This was a great opportunity to work alongside a group we've had our eye on for some time; The Marmalade and Effective Team. This was the Marmalade's first production at their beautiful new studio, and this was our first time doing flame on set.
Testing with the Marmalade and using the Phantom for even the initial rounds allowed us to walk into the prelight with a working test edit. Having Flame on set meant that as we shot I could give real-time feedback from compositing all the way back to camera without slowing production. It allowed us to avoid potentially steppy time-warps by increasing camera speed or decreasing frame rate. I was also able to illustrate to Eben, McKinney and Sherwin-Williams the potential quality of different shot elements so we could more quickly move on to new shots. The speed of the workflow, from camera to dit to Flame to Eben was a game changer. In the end we were able to make up time to shoot different color combinations to create a unique second spot.
By the time we got to post we all knew we had something special. Me, Mario Caserta, and John Boudin pushed each shot to be its best. Alexis Jo and Sang Lee helped with some very difficult roto, tracking and stabilizing. The only CG in the spot is the product! The opening shots are actually very macro, but aesthetically we were going for a bright white version of outer space, like colossal comets colliding. Then the second section references natural valley landscapes as its motivation, airy clouds, weighty structures, followed by the feeling of riding up and through a rich vortex to the product.
We had a great working relationship with the team at McKinney. They came to our office in NYC a couple of times, even braving a city closing blizzard to push this project forward. It was a great feeling to have a collective vision for the spot but to also have the freedom to run with creative ideas and the trust of the agency and client that the work we were doing was all going toward a more vivid and beautiful product. I look forward to working with this team again.
For a full look at how we swirled our way into creating this vibrant world for Sherwin-Williams, be sure to check out our behind-the-scenes breakdown below.