a 3D supervisor at The Mill, played a lead role crafting the Super Duty
commercials at the visual effects shop.
we started the job we knew we had to surpass in complexity previous commercials
that played with the idea of cars assembling and of course we wanted to
make sure it looked great,” says Bares.
To get the
high degree of realism that Bares needed, Ford provided The Mill with
actual Computer Aided Design (CAD) files from the Super Duty used to engineer
the pickup for manufacture.
“Thanks to Ford's collaboration we received all the CAD data from
the car which is something unheard of. This turned to be both a blessing
and a nightmare as the actual complexity of the truck is huge with more
than 16,000 pieces split on small surfaces”, explains Bares.
pieces represents only about a quarter of the total parts found in a real
Super Duty rolling off an assembly line. Including the true number of
parts in the commercial would have created too dense a parts field for
the spokesperson to walk through. So in the commercial you won’t
see things like carpet and wiring.
of the commercial's complexity – a typical computer generated project
at The Mill renders objects with a total resolution of around 1 million
polygons. The more polygons, the more detail about an object that can
be communicated visually. By the time the whole Super Duty was converted
from CAD data it had grown to 100 million polygons!
also had to figure out how to virtually rig the car in space so that all
of the pieces would fly together without crossing paths to create the
Super Duty. Eventually 60 “noodles” were rigged to move the
16,000 pieces through space, with 26 noodles used to assemble the engine
and its 4,000 plus parts that you see in the commercial.
the scenes also required a tremendous amount of computing horsepower that
sucked up the resources of the biggest machines at The Mill. “The
average low resolution scene was just 12 million polygons and due to our
needs we started to get all of the big machines at The Mill to work with,
as 4 gigs of RAM was vital just to work low resolution,” Bares recalls.
Over 200 computers were used in the project, which started with 160 machines
and required the purchase of 40 more to complete the job on time.
As December and January wore on the project became the talk of the town
in London’s pubs near The Mill. JWT creative director/truck group
Paul Kirner recalls that tables of CG staff were talking about the spots
as they took a break from the grueling schedule. “Towards the end,
people were crashing from the effort to complete the commercials.”
While the virtual work rapidly progressed in London, across the Atlantic
in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles the search was on for the actor
who would become the human face to explain the Super Duty’s capabilities.
Over 400 auditions were held before ex-NFL linebacker Matt Battaglia was
chosen to star alongside the F-450 in the commercials.
filmed the commercials in Los Angeles on a stark white stage because the
flying parts could only be added later during post-production at The Mill.
And to help Battaglia envision the Super Duty coming together, Ford supplied
a rolling chassis for him to walk around.