As the NFL evolves, so does Fox Sports’ Cleatus. This year, the Fox robot moved beyond the truck advertisements of old, and instead entered new territory, exploring a lighter side through his showcasing of Walmart’s hotel quality line of bed sheets and towels.
Led by Zoic partner and director, Chris Jones, the Zoic team was given complete control to bring the Fox Sports creation to life, handling everything from previs to shoot, motion capture, edit, VFX, and finishing.
Using in-house motion capture, the team started with the creation of a technical previs based off of the Fox boards. Since the plan was to shoot the motion capture actor as a stand-in for the CG Cleatus, the previs team compensated for the scale difference between the 6 foot actor and the 9 foot Cleatus, allowing the digital set build to become the art department’s architectural guide for building an accurate, reduced-scale, physical set on location.
Chris effortlessly directed the multiple on-set teams, simultaneously balancing the needs for both live action and post, ensuring all project needs were met. Having chosen to shoot the commercial as if practical, when the camera rolled, the Zoic crew simultaneously motion captured the actor’s digital performance alongside his physical one. Recording in synch with live action proved crucial since the primary goal was to preserve the beauty lighting of the physical Walmart product being used.
Using the previs as a guide, edits were quickly locked. Selects were then matched to the animation data recorded on set, so that our Maya animators got a running start on animation revisions / mo-cap clean-up, eliminating guesswork regarding Cleatus’ interaction with the physical sheets. This allowed the CG character performance and sheets to remain in synch.
Because of Zoic’s recurring relationship with Fox Sports, the Cleatus model had been in house in advance of the project start. As such, once animation moved into the hands of the Maya lighting team, the Cleatus’ texture/shaders had been updated in advance of the production, and the team had more time to focus on highlighting the details to be found in the new and improved Cleatus. Now – with the base of the project being a practical shoot – the lighting team had real-world reference to aid the look and feel of the robot, and perfectly marry the sleek CG robot with the real world luxurious, high thread count sheets.