Conceived by The Monkeys in conjunction with Finch and director Christopher Riggert – The house of sparking was a feast for our vfx crew.
The “House of Sparkling” spot made heavy use of 3ds Max and Particle Flow; an event-based particle system designed specifically for complicated effects work. We used a virtual character, match-moved to the on-screen tap dancer, to emit sparks which crackled, popped and fizzed depending on his foot-steps. A careful balancing of the amount of sparks was needed to build towards the crescendo at the end of the spot when he dances on the ceiling. At that moment he creates a mist-like rain of sparkles which cascade down towards the floor below. The sparks cool as they die, floating upwards as they sizzle away to invoke a cool effervescence and remind us of the sparkling nature of the product.
Different ‘events’ were created to simulate the pops and cracks from the flint hits made from the tap dancing reference. These events would be triggered, randomly, by factors such as speed, collisions and direction. Particles would start white-hot and cool off through the black body radiation scale and rendered in floating point. This dynamic range would allow for correct lensing and flaring based on thresholds referenced from the live action plates.
As the schedule was fairly short, it was important to have a system of sparks which could be quickly spread across all the shots; easily being ‘dialed up’ as the spot progresses. Every motion of the tap dancers feet automatically creates different effects, whether he is walking, tapping or dancing on the celing. Variables would be introduced later and some key framing accentuate his movements and enhance the effects.
The room was accurately represented to reflect and capture light from the sparks. Rendering was done via Mental Ray and compositing was Autodesk Flame. Alt finished the 40 odd shots in 2 weeks.