Flying High

Creating THE Ad Campaign for a Kuwaiti TV Network

In 2007, The Molecule had the pleasure of VFX Supervising a project half-way around the world. Alwatan, a Kuwaiti television network, was creating an ad campaign to promote itself as the first 100% local station. The spots, directed by Zeyad Alhusaini, were designed to showcase national monuments in an effort to highlight the local nature of the network.

Production used a remote-controlled helicopter with a Panasonic DVH camera attached. Measuring approximately 6 feet long, it was operated by two individuals- one piloting the helicopter, the other in charge of the camera. Because the helicopter was relatively small, it was able to be flown through tight spaces, capturing some really great angles that otherwise would have been hard to shoot any other way. However, as any VFX Supervisor has learned in the past, the cooler the invention the more complex the drawbacks. All of the footage captured by the flying camera was extremely shaky- so much so that half the time spent in post was dedicated to image stabilization.

In addition to the technological dilemmas, geographical meteorology played a role in creating some extra work for post production. In Kuwait the sky tends to be quite hazy and dull, so every single sky in the edit had to be replaced. This meant tracking in a sky plate using stock footage; however, this relatively simple task turned into a bit of challenge when working with the flying, shaky camera.

In post we were also responsible for creating 3D elements, such as clouds (made in Maya) and water droplets (made using RealFlow), that we composited into the spots. These elements were often used for transitional purposes, to stitch one shot to another. A lot of color correction was needed to achieve the super-saturated look that Director Zee was going for. One spot was recorded to 35mm via ARRI Laser, so the color correction also involved an effort to bridge the format differences between HD and film. We learned there are some colors that film just won’t do.

All in all, the shoot itself, with VFX supervisors Luke DiTommaso and Chris Healer on location in Kuwait, required one week to shoot and about 6 intense weeks of post. We were excited with the outcome, and the final product was named best Arab Ad of the year.