Gerard de Thame and Absolute’s Greene Skillfully Showcase the Value of the Rails

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Railways are the lifeblood for any economy, and Believe Media's Gerard de Thame, in collaboration with Absolute's Lead Flame Artist Dirk Greene, illustrate its importance by way of two clever :30s for global freight transportation leader CSX, via Mullen.

"I've teamed up with Gerard on a number of projects, so of course I didn't hesitate when we were asked again to collaborate," noted Greene, who led Absolute's team of animators, modelers, and lighters for the project. "He's a tremendous talent and constant innovator - as demonstrated here - and we work great together."


promotes CSX's ability to move one ton of freight nearly 500 miles on just one gallon of fuel with a custom-crafted thank-you from nature's grateful denizens. Plants and animals gather together to form the company's bracket-shaped logo: a herd of antelope running along a plain; apples hanging from the side of a tree; fallen leaves beside a lake; children at the Lincoln Park Memorial as well as a flock of migrating geese soaring overhead.

Given the impossible task of having to find a herd of wild antelope who could run in specific patterns on command, Greene called upon his CG team to create a single deer and then replicate it - creating a distinct personality for each with subtle nuances. The group was then animated into forming the logo. A ground plate was created from still textures to give the deer a plain that they could travel across as well as tackling camera shake and removal. Greene repeated the replication trick with the CG geese, taking special care that the logo was both legible and natural looking throughout whilst retaining as much of the flock's movement.

When de Thame could not find apples naturally growing in a bracket formation, he created it using practical props which were then manipulated by the Absolute team, enhancing their readability and repositioning them into the bracket formation. Greene used a number of different plates for the leaf-blowing shot, adding leaves and reversing footage of them blowing away from preformed logo shapes to make it look as though they were coming together. He also combined plates for the view of the children watching the birds, combining several different shots so that they appeared to be forming the logo as well as adding a camera move and a bird flying across the sky.


symbolically evokes the power of CSX to efficiently move freight by zooming over a series of neatly lined object that could not get to market without the train's efforts. The camera moves rapidly over parked shopping carts, rows of crops, shelves of shoes, items on a factory's conveyor belt, a ladder, and lines of bottles on a supermarket shelf, ending with a the illusion that the train is traveling into a stack of pipes in a warehouse and exiting from a tunnel into the green countryside. Greene achieved the final transition by shooting a plate with a camera on the front of a high rail vehicle traveling down the tracks and another plate with a stationary camera on top of the tracks. He also lined up each shot so that the horizon line was consistent throughout the spot and handled camera track removal and shot stabilization throughout.


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Client: CSX

Spot Title(s):

Enviro-Brackets, Tracks

Air Date: October 2010

Agency: Mullen

GCD: Mark Fisher

AD: Dino Tzourotuis

CW: Rich Black

EP: Susanna Gates Rose

Prod Company: Believe Media

Director: Gerard de Thame

EP(s): Gerard Cantor, Fabyan Daw

Editorial: jumP NYC

Editor: Michael Saia

MD: Dee Tagert

EP: Jason Way

Telecine: Filmworkers Chicago

Colorist: Michael Mazur

EP: Lisa Long

Producer: Derek de Board

Telecine: Nice Shoes (



Colorist: Chris Ryan (



Post/Effects: Absolute Post

Lead VFX/Flame Artist: Dirk Greene

VFX Artist(s): Betty Cameron, Simon Holden, Aniello Zampella, James "Krispy" Cornwell

CG Artist(s): Mark Gregory, Ian Brauner, Luba Drozd, Vania Alban-Zapata, Mirelle Underwood, Steve Talkowski

EP: Sally Heath

Music: Stimmung

Composer: Robert Miller

Sound Design: jumP NYC

Sound Designer(s): Michael Saia, Lihi Orbach

Shoot Location: Illinois, USA

About Absolute

Founded in 2004 by David Smith, one of the world's leading Flame artists, Absolute is a high-end VFX studio working within the commercial, emerging media, music video, and film communities. With offices in New York and London, Absolute over the years has collected numerous industry accolades including two BTAA awards, a D&AD pencil, a Cannes Lion, an APA Collection Diamond, three Andy wins and an MTV video statue. The New York office opened in 2007, helmed by CD Dirk Greene, to further facilitate Absolute's international client roster with a growing Flame and CG service.

More info: TRUST 646 452 3388 (NY) 310 451 5153 (LA)