Reboot(y)ing Playboy's TV Funhouse
nailgun*'s Fresh-faced Show Open for Girls Next Door
You shot on location in the mansion for a few days. Did you get any downtime?
It was a wild place. During the week it’s a little bit quiet, but there’s a lot of history there. We had two days to shoot so it was a pretty packed schedule. We were shooting inside the mansion in the movie room. It was a lot to shoot: the staff, the whole zoo, all the different locations, the interiors. We had to be done by 4:00pm on the Friday because it was movie night at the mansion.
It’s a mix. We shot interiors. The tennis court is the real tennis court, but we made all these trees in Maya with toon shader to give it a little more playful, more stylized look. We mixed 3D with 2D elements with photography. That’s been the whole idea from day one that it was a little bit cartoony and fun. The mansion was completely created in 3D with no photography. Then the courts were photography, all the staff, all the animals.
I love the way the new sequence moves. It seems zippier. What are some of the differences in look and feel you were going for?
It’s definitely more zippy. When we did it the first time, we wanted it to be very low-tech. It was more of a stop-motion style within After Effects-everything was very cutty. With this one, we wanted to make it a little more seamless and organic. So, this time, we made the characters’ body movements more parented, going for more of a puppet style, mixed with the facial expressions having a stop-motion feel.
Another change was, in the first version, everything was very much on the cut. The seams were little stages we created and cut between. Whereas in the new one we have more seamless transitions with the camera flying through the world. We were trying to get more of a sense of the environment, of the mansion. One of the mandates from Hef was that the mansion itself was a character. So you have the three girls, him and the mansion: the five characters of the show.
Was Hef very involved?
He basically trusted us since we’d created the earlier packages. He looked at it twice, once after we’d created the storyboards and then again when we were pretty far along in animation. We wanted to change up the storyboards a little bit because we were concerned that people wouldn’t understand that this was a whole new show, a whole new set of girlfriends. Initially, we planned start off with the playmates in the pool and then come out from them to meet the new girlfriends. So that right away you knew from the first frame that this was different. Hef preferred to stay as close to the original as possible, with the girls upfront and then introducing the playmates somewhere in the middle. In the the initial open for season 1 up until now there were three girls and each had their own little introduction of where they came from and now who they are at the mansion. However in this one, the twins share a scene, so we’ve had a little extra room to introduce the other playmates who hang around.
So you captured the new focus of this season…
Yes, I think the new season emphasizes that there’s more to it than just the girlfriends. There’s a widening focus to include the other girls who hang around the mansion all the time.
What was your process like shooting the girls?
It’s a little complicated because there are two parts to how I direct a shoot like this. One is, just like any still or live action shoot, you have to get the talent to relax and feel confident in what you’re trying to do. You’re trying get their personality to come out in a way you can see on camera. But it’s also a technical thing for us. We need not only the faces in different positions, but the bodies in different positions as well. We’re also trying to get steps. If someone’s going to be jumping into a pool, you want to capture: when they’re getting ready to jump, when they’re jumping and when they land in the pool. So we might have a trampoline for them to jump on and get shots of multiple steps. Then we cut all the pieces apart and reassemble and animate the sequence.
The other thing we try to do-that I think is different from what most other people do in this kind of style-is get different perspectives. When we have someone shooting with us we’ll also put a very simple clock on the floor and we’ll have them go from 12 to 10:30 to 9:00 to 12:30 to 6:00-and perform the action in different positions. That way we get diff perspectives of their body. If someone’s riding a bike, they’re not just riding directly at us or going side to side…they can come towards us and then turn. Those are the added details that we try to get in to the piece.
Client: E! / Charing Cross Entertainment
Project: “The Girls Next Door” show open/package
Production/Design/Post: nailgun*, New York
Michael Waldron, Creative Director + Live Action Director
Erik van der Wilden, Director of Animation + Editorial
Elena Olivares, Managing Director