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December 5th, 2017

What’s the secret to winning in outer space? As Geico’s latest spot ‘Star Captain: The Lost Keys' demonstrates, remembering where you put your keys is a good start.

Continuing Geico’s Count On campaign, The Mill had the pleasure of partnering once again with The Martin Agency and Director Randy Krallman of Smuggler to deliver the intergalactic ad, which humorously depicts a familiar predicament set against an unfamiliar backdrop.

Shot entirely on bluescreen, ‘Star Captain: The Lost Keys' called for collaboration and ingenuity across The Mill’s teams to transform the setting into a sophisticated, high-tech spaceship about to enter battle.

3D Lead Artist Matt Bonhert comments, “This was an exciting project for us. Our team was involved early on in the production process, which was wonderful, and we were given creative freedom to design and build the sci-fi environment." 

Matte Painting & Environments Supervisor Gillian George worked on set to capture extensive reference photography whilst working closely with Randy and Bryan Newman, Director of Photography, to visualize what could be accomplished with set extensions. To construct the vast hanger, detailed matte paintings were projected onto 3D models to enhance their texture, lighting, and scale. Gillian’s work significantly helped the 2D team as it gave them the flexibility to move and adjust elements within the environment on a moment’s notice.  

Geico Blog 03Set Extensions & Matte Painting

To illustrate the epic space battle ensuing outside of the ship, 3D artists utilized matte painted planet backdrops, dozens of 3D ships and script-driven laser animations. Elements such as explosions and energy shields were then composited into the scene to add to the frenetic tone of the narrative.

2D Artist Peter Sidoriak says, “We constructed a procedural shield reaction system which enabled the shield effect to be linked directly to the laser blasts. This feature also created many different effects depending on the various lasers that hit the shield.”

Geico Blog 04Procedural Shield Reaction System 

Geico Blog 05Procedural Shield Reaction System

To further enhance the detail in the vast hanger, Design Artist Greg Park crafted the UI screens, which Lead 2D Artist Gareth Parr then animated. 2D Artist Daniel Thuresson strategically tracked and placed them seamlessly into the background. Daniel comments, “The production team had shot some screens on set so it was crucial that we mimic the color and overall look of our screens to match those.”

Geico Blog 06Designed & Animated UI Screens

Geico Blog 07Designed & Animated UI Screens

Gareth adds, “We were grateful for the trust The Martin Agency placed in us, as well the creative freedom they granted our teams. Crafting the piece was a huge collaborative effort amongst everyone involved and we couldn’t have enjoyed the process more.”

For more from the hilarious collaboration, check out ‘Game Night with a Sloth’, which features a fully CG furry friend.