A Behind The Scenes Look at Walmart ‘Famous Visitors’

We caught up with Chris ‘Badger’ Knight, Executive Creative Director, and Matthew Fuller, VFX Supervisor, about their work on Walmart 'Famous Visitors'.
ThoughtFebruary 20, 2020

The Mill collaborated once again with Publicis New York (Dept W) and Wayne McClammy of Hungry Man to create this galaxy-famous spot for Walmart, demonstrating the out-of-this-world convenience of Walmart Pick Up. We caught up with Chris ‘Badger’ Knight, Executive Creative Director, and Matthew Fuller, VFX Supervisor, about the intergalactic experience.

“An overarching highlight of working on Walmart ‘Famous Visitors’ was the sheer scope of sci-fi characters from so many different eras, from the 1940’s Marvin the Martian right up to the present day. The Publicis New York (Dept W) team created something incredible with the idea, and collaboration required, to bring this ‘cast’ together.

Director Wayne McClammy had a clear vision of identifying these iconic pieces of design and bringing them into a new age. It was an exciting undertaking. With Wayne’s insights into narrative and structure, we began by first diving into the archives of the beloved films. It was a big responsibility to depict so many pop culture touchstones, so we analyzed the creative and animation styles for each character. This way we could get a sense of each world and unique personality we were dealing with.

It was a privilege to work with such a vast amount of old and new icons. Some best-bits included building the ‘Mars Attacks’ characters, the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Benatar, the ‘Men in Black’ worms and of course, creating a CG double of Frank the Pug to enable him to talk.

A big part of the brief was working with Alex Winter, who plays ‘excellent’ Bill from the ‘Bill & Ted’ films. We shot him as his older self, and then performing as his younger self; using 2D beauty compositing work and CG hair we de-aged him to the classic 80s version. We knew from the start that fans would absolutely spot anything that felt off, so attention to detail was crucial. Capturing Alex’s dual performances ensured we achieved the multiple nuances to how he plays Bill at the two different ages.

It was cool to build a CG ‘Blade Runner’ Spinner; this visual effects archetype is what inspired so many of our peers to get into the VFX industry. To achieve the look, working closely with the Reel EFX team, a rig was constructed that was shot at night with a rain machine and interactive light set up. The smoke was even a practical effect that The Mill team then enhanced and comped the CG Spinner on top of.

The heroic miniature ‘Lego Movie’ characters were rebuilt to appear identical to those in the film. They threw an interesting scale issue into the mix.

The team at Publicis New York (Dept W)and Wayne’s concept for each ‘world’ was to achieve a vignette of authentic performances, environments and individual looks. A great example of this was the Flash Gordon sequence. Starring the legendary Sam Jones, the team ensured the background, the digital double ‘Hawkmen’ and the sky all felt true to the renowned original.”