Smart Previs Straightens Out a Complicated VFX Shoot

It took an extensive previs and a complicated live action shoot to turn the world upside down for a new Hyundai Sonata spot, "World on Its Head." In addition to its input during pre-production, RIOT handled VFX, color-correction and post. The spot was produced by HSI Productions for agency The Richards Group (Dallas), and editorial took place at The Whitehouse.

First, Riot went out with director Gerard de Thame to scout locations in downtown Los Angeles, taking photographs that would be used to recreate several city blocks as a CG environment. That way, the spot could be previsualized, complete with low-resolution digital figures and bits of computer-generated debris, so everyone involved could sign off on the exact look and feel of the spot.

An exterior shoot then took place in L.A., followed by a four-day VFX shoot. Riot shot tilting floors and streets on a 20-foot-by-20-foot tilting platform, and had stuntmen dive 25-feet into waiting airbags. "The people were shot in slow motion so that, when they were composited into background plates that were shot at normal speed, they appeared to cover a long distance," according to Riot Executive Creative Director Andy MacDonald. "We shot each person from multiple angles so that, in the edit, we could maintain continuity in the actors' performances as they progressively moved from scene to scene." Computers were used at the shoot to make sure motion matched from shot to shot.

Adding to the panoply of elements for the spot were miniature vehicles and CG people. On the last of the 10 days allocated to production, Riot discovered that it didn't have enough footage of people for the street scenes – so MacDonald recruited company staffers as extras for a last-minute green-screen shoot.