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Quiet Train



Dow 'Quiet Train' Will Stop You in Your Tracks

Have you ever been on a crowded train and felt like people were sitting on top of you? In Dow's 'Train', Draft FCB and Director Nicolai Fuglsig treat that turn of phrase literally. Together with The Mill NY, they created a train made entirely of people!

Creating a "people train" is no easy feat. With more than 20 shots calling for CG effects, the team had to come up with a creative way to accomplish this task.  VFX Supervisor/3D Lead Jeffrey Dates explains, "Crowd FX are traditionally done with Massive software.  However, for this project we used Softimage's ICE for the crowd system because of the team's experience with the it and the rendering software, Mental Ray.

"We created 26 unique CG 'actors' who were then modeled, rigged, textured, shaded and animated," Dates continues. "The textures were acquired on set, and then utilized in the CG library.  The animation was comprised of a series of ambient actions that could be called upon depending on our needs."

The crowd setup was created in Softimage's ICE with user control in mind. Using this software made it easy to place the actors and select which ones would sit, stand, wave, squat, check their watches or any other action the team designated.

Because some shots had upwards of 12 cars and 7,200 CG actors, Dates and his team needed to find an efficient way to render the largely populated shots. "In order to optimize render time, we used Mental Ray proxy stand-ins, which 'baked' out each of the CG actors ahead of time," Dates says. "This offloaded a lot of the computing time needed during the 'translate' process.  With stand-ins, we were seeing render-times down from 50 minutes to 5 minutes per frame!" The stand-ins were then applied to the shot with all the controls, allowing for fast feedback for the user.

The lighting was handled traditionally, using Mental Ray with Final Gathering. The reduction in render time allowed the team to re-render iterations and tweak animation and lighting at will, and also gave the team more time to spend on perfecting the details and nuances that bring this 'Train' to life.




  • Agency: Draft FCB Chicago
  • Producer: Executive Producer: Ivo Knezevic
  • Creative Director: Group Creative Director: Doug Behm, John Flannery
  • Group Business Manager: Lisa Stevens


  • Director: Nicolai Fuglsig
  • Producer: Suza Horvat


  • Editing Company: Final Cut
  • Editor: Rick Russell

Post-Production / VFX

  • Post-Production / VFX Company: The Mill
  • VFX Producer: Carl Walters
  • Shoot Supervisor: Corey Brown, Angus Kneale
  • 3D Lead Artists: Jeff Dates, Ajit Menon, Boris Ustaev
  • 2D Artists: Corey Brown, Naomi Anderlini, Melissa Graff, Dan Defilice, Lenz Kol, Rodrigo de la Parra
  • 3D Artists: Sandor Toledo, Emily Meger, Xuan Seifert, Michael Viscione, Dave Alonso, Justin Burton, Eva Kuehlmann, Sue Jang, James Williams, Kevin Ives, and Nick Couret
  • Assist: Robert Bruce, Rosalind Paradis, Albert Cook
  • Colourist: Adam Scott, Fergus McCall
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