PlayStation's 'Michael', the latest installment in the 'Long Live Play' branding campaign, features a dreamy cast of characters most any gamer or adventurous soul would fancy having a pint with. Sweet Tooth, Solid Snake, Little Sister and other PlayStation favorites gather in an Inn to share their war stories and herald the devoted gamer who brought them together in the first place, Michael.
"The biggest challenge was to bring the 3D game characters in to the 'real' world so they lived in the environment that was shot but remained true to their in-game characters," says John Leonti, The Mill's 3D VFX Supervisor on 'Michael'. "There was a great deal of back and forth with the game developers to get all the details correct. The gamers out there are notoriously critical of anything that interprets the characters they love."
Having logged in hundreds of hours on PlayStation consoles, Junior 3D Artist Matt Vogan was enlisted as The Mill's resident gaming expert. "Matt was invaluable to the team throughout the entire project," says VFX Supervisor Phil Crowe, The Mill's Lead 2D Artist along with Pete Hodsman on Nuke. "Character nuances that might escape the average gamer were not lost on Matt. He helped Simon and our entire team deliver a spot that was very authentic to PlayStation's world."
Inherent to this authenticity was the look of the final film. Mill Head of Telecine Adam Scott graded 'Michael', bearing in mind references most colorists would envy-Blade Runner, Inception, Inglorious Bastards. Working on a Baselight 4, he used a DI 2K feature film workflow, enabling him to create a pre and post VFX grade. Scott explains, "Simon wanted a very cinematic feel, so he shot 35mm Anamorphic. And DP Jan Velicky filmed everything in relatively low light, which proved invaluable to creating the dark and mysterious ambience of the finished spot."
"Simon was meticulous in his pre-shoot planning and incorporated our VFX advice," Crowe explains. "One of the trickiest shots was making Kratos look like he was 9-feet tall, when in reality he was a normal bloke. We worked closely with Simon to plan the shots so this effect could ultimately be seamless. And a similar technique was used to increase the size of Little Sister's head."
"Given the complexities of bringing so many gaming characters together, the final film owes everything to the entire team's collaborative approach," agree Crowe and Leonti. "From the amazing guys at Deutsch, Simon the director, Editor Steve Gandolfi and our super talented team at The Mill, everybody played their part making 'Michael' the perfect project."