Ford Aluminum Cleatus

The start of the NFL season presented Zoic Studios with the opportunity to huddle with Team Detroit and Fox Sports to create a new Aluminum Cleatus.

This opportunity led to the main question of the project: how would we effectively establish the differences between the older steel Cleatus and his new and improved aluminum replacement? Creating this new aluminum look would present one of the biggest challenges of the project.

Aluminum Cleatus required a look which immediately established him as “new and improved.”  Equally exciting was the fact that his older Steel predecessor finally got to show his age.

General wear and tear was added to old Steel Cleatus, giving him both a visible “on field” history, and allowing us – for the first time – to visually show the rust and robotic wear.

On set and in studio, animating Cleatus began with the XSens motion capture suit in the early previz stage phase of the project. In order to capture the actions of the 9 foot robot, using actual recorded motion instead of rough animation provided a more accurate sense of timing, which helped initial editorial work, and also enabled the live action team to accurately plan for the 2 days needed for both motion capture and Rob Riggle.

On set, over a week prior to Riggle’s shoot, the motion capture performer was able to act against Rob’s stand in with all of his moves recorded while cameras ran. This dedicated mo-cap day made it possible for the director to focus on Cleatus’ direction and make sure he gave the correct performance to play off of Rob. Additionally, this early start also enabled the beginning of CG a week prior to Riggle coming on set.

By the time talent stepped on set in the UCLA Bruins locker room, the motion capture data had already been cleaned up and retargeted from a 6 foot human to our needed robotic dimensions.

Overall, the strategic use of mo-cap and early planning by Zoic’s team enabled the VFX crew to animate, light, and composite two 9 foot tall robots in 33 shots over two weeks.