GREY NY and Peter Berg show us the "Timeline" of American Football
Last year, GREY NY dazzled us with a tribute to classic TV in
their AICP honored spot for the NFL, "American Family." This year,
safety is front and center in "Timeline."
Directed by Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights fame,
this trip through time and several different stadiums takes us from
early 1900s football through the present day. With players' health
and safety as its forefront concern, the NFL wants to raise
awareness about new rules and regulations that have come to pass
over the years. In fact, our Digital team worked in tandem
with the broadcast production side to develop a website for NFL.com
that features an evolutionary timeline of equipment and rule
changes over the years.
The bulk of The Mill's work on this spot came in the form of
populating the stadiums using the Massive software platform. Wyatt
Savarese, Co-Lead 3D Artist explains, "We had to build over 20
different Massive agents from scratch, and each agent had to
reflect the time period they were in." For instance, in the
beginning of the spot most of the men are wearing fedoras and have
period appropriate clothing. As we progress through the film
we start to see hints of the home team's colors trickle through the
crowd, and by the late '80s to present day the crowd is in
full-blown home team costume.
Co-Lead 3D Artist Ruben Vandebroek adds, "Since our goal was to
make the stadiums and crowds for each decade look as authentic as
possible, we spent a lot of time looking through NFL archival
footage and pictures to figure out what the stadiums looked like in
each era. Since the early decades of play were shot on a field in
Los Angeles and the latter were shot at the LA Memorial Coliseum,
we had to replace the existing fields with the appropriate stadium
for each team and decade." Iconic stadiums such as Lambeau Field,
Old Mile High Stadium and Soldier Field were completely rebuilt in
In order to retain the authenticity of each decade, Senior
Telecine Artist Fergus McCall collaborated with Lead Flame artist
Westley Sarokin, GREY and the NFL clients. "The Color Correct was
done over five or six sessions, starting with a technical grade and
then growing in scale and complexity as the VFX were bedded in,"
explains McCall. "The aim with 'Timeline' was to create a visually
interesting piece that, like the epic play itself, moved through
the years seamlessly without interfering with the story.
"Various pieces of archive footage provided by the NFL had to bed
in with our live action which was all shot on the Arri Alexa.
This provided quite a challenge." Extensive use of adapted 3D LUTs
and multi layered color corrected passes that the Baselight handles
effortlessly allowed color VFX to be executed quickly, work
which would have previously taken days to combine in
"It's a work flow that allowed perfect creative flexibility and
maximum experimentation," concludes MacCall. "Not all commercials
can be posted this way but when time and inclination allows, it's a
brilliant way of doing things."
Check out the complementary website here: