Digital production studio and post house provide concept through delivery services for visual effects driven campaign out of Cannonball.
for Freschetta, a woman goes on an Alice-in-Wonderland-like journey in search of a better pizza. The campaign, conceived by St. Louis agency Cannonball, was produced by hybrid production studio
, which worked with its affiliate,
, to provide a unique one-stop solution for the campaign that took it from the drawing board to the screen.
The winning concept features a woman shopping for pizza in a supermarket packed with bland frozen pizzas. She falls through a trap door into a Wonka-like world filled with overgrown fruits and vegetables showcasing all of the fresh ingredients used in each of Freschetta’s Simply Inspired pizzas.
Creative Director Danny DelPurgatorio led the Vitamin team who worked with creatives from Cannonball in designing the alternate worlds of the supermarket and the Freschetta fantasy land. “The supermarket looks like a typical grocery store, except that everything is ultra-bland and stale,” explains DelPurgatorio.“That is contrasted by the fantasy world that is bright, lush, grand, brimming with color and sunshine.”
Vitamin’s visual effects team initially prepared an animatic of the spot, indicating the position of the talent, the background environment and all of the various CG elements—as well as camera movements and lighting set ups for every shot. That served as a blueprint for the two-day live action shoot.
CG artists then prepared dozens of photoreal fruits and vegetables, using colors, lighting and textures drawn from still photographs shot on the set by photographer Rob Foster. “The vegetables had to look real and appealing, because everyone knows how a pepper and a mushroom look,” observes Vitamin Art Director / CG Lead Linas Jodwalis. “It wasn’t something we could cheat.”
The Compositing team, meanwhile, was led by Filmworkers Visual Effects Director Rob Churchill. It was their task to integrate the various elements into scenes that look rich and seamless. Churchill oversaw a team of four compositors who carried out a virtual round-the-clock effort to complete the work.
“We spent a lot of time in pre-production working with Vitamin to determine which elements would be shot, which would be practical, which CG, and so on,” Churchill recalls. “So when it came time to shoot, we knew exactly what we needed and how to get it, and it also meant we were well prepared when we got into post production.” Still, Churchill added, each scene in the commercial required nearly a week to composite as dozens of elements had to be carefully integrated into the backgrounds and balanced to match with other elements in the shots.
Color grading was performed by Filmworkers’ Michael Mazur. “It was a monumental task given the number of elements and the fact that they originated in so many different media,” Mazur explains. “We also wanted to sharpen the contrast between the supermarket scene that opens the spot and the surreal environment that follows.”
Churchill and DelPurgatorio explain that the project can serve as a model for other projects involving complex visual effects and design elements. Having all the work done under one roof by a team of artists who are familiar with and supportive of one another’s work has enormous advantages in terms of creative consistency and production efficiency.
“It was a great experience working along side Vitamin in taking a project from start to finish,” Churchill notes. “It showed that we can do things no other company in Chicago can do and it will lead to other opportunities in the future.”
DelPurgatorio may have summed up the experience best. “It was great to have the opportunity to take a project from storyboard to screen,” he says. “And it was also fun for our artists to collaborate with Filmworkers. That was the most exciting and rewarding part of the project.”
Vitamin is located at 232 East Ohio Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611. For more information, call 312.664.6683 or visit
Filmworkers is located at 232 E. Ohio St. Penthouse, Chicago, IL 60611. For more information, call (312) 664-9333 or visit
Agency: Cannonball, St. Louis.
Garry Gassel, Producer; Brian Fauss, Associate Creative Director; Brad Gutting, Art Director; Monica Vansaghi, Art Director.
Production: Vitamin, Chicago. Filmworkers, Chicago.
Danny DelPurgatorio, Creative Director; Paul Schneider , Live Action Director ; Tom Lazarevich, Director of Photography ; Marsie Wallach, Line Producer ; Alison Becker, Production Coordinator ; Joe Bristol, Production Designer ; Rob Churchill and Linas Jodwalis, VFX Supervisors; Rob Foster, Still Photography; Tony Legato and Dave Pasciuto, Matte Painters; Rob Churchill, Rick Thompson, Matt Beharry, Tony Legato, Dave Pasciuto and Frank Donnangelo, Designers ; Linas Jodwalis, Charlie Peterson, Morgan James, Chris Green, Brian Bullock and Evaldas Cesnavicius, 3D Artists; Rob Churchill, Editorial ; Rob Churchill, Rick Thompson and Andy Davis, Flame Compositors; Matt Beharry and Rob Foster, After Effects Compositors ; Justin Winkler and Steven Kocian, Flame Assistants; Michael Mazur, Colorist; James Cadenas, Assistant Colorist; Lisa Long, Executive Producer/Filmworkers; Larissa Shames, Senior Producer/Vitamin; Derek de Board, Producer/Filmworkers; Nina Yoo, Associate, Producer/Vitamin.
Music : Another Country