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Adidas – Brazuca
Case study

Adidas is a major sponsor of the FIFA World Cup and also delivers the official match balls for the event. The design of the ball – dubbed Brazuca by the Brazilian public – was shown officially to the public on December 3rd 2013.

The idea behind the campaign surrounding the release is to see the world from the perspective of the Brazuca, also reflected in the language in the campaign with taglines such as “I am Brazuca.”

The big challenge for us at STOPP/FAMILY was to figure out how to experience what it might feel like, as a ball, to be played by world famous football players and regular kids alike. The main device to this end is to let the user see the world from the perspective of the ball in an interactive 360 degree panorama, so our first task was to see how we could build on our previous experience with 360 projects, but take it to a new level where none of the rigging was visible, yet achieve complete freedom of motion for the user to look around the world.

We had a date set with Messi, Xavi, Tello and other football superstars in Barcelona, so we needed to go over our camera alternatives in order to shoot this. STOPP/FAMILY’s creative director Julius Denizhan and vfx supervisor Arvid Björn started off with extensive testing, putting all available rigs through their paces to find strengths and weaknesses. Together with LA office’ creative director Zachary Richter and creative technologist Ola Björling we decided how to use each rig for the various things we needed to do.

The three rigs we brought to set were the Freedom360 mount with 6 GoPros, a PanoPro mirror lens strapped to a Red Scarlet and a 180 degree lens on a Canon 550D. The main linear cinematic film is shot on Red Epics both on the ground and rigged on a Spidercam system which can fly freely over the entire football pitch.
The main attraction of the experience is the center point panorama. Just before the game starts, we get to look around and see Xavi, Tello and the judges from the ball’s perspective as they prepare for kick-off. We had exactly one chance to get this one right, there’s also nowhere to hide when you shoot a 360, so we decided that everyone that wasn’t supposed to be in the shot, needed to stay on the other side of the field lines. So even with limited control of the action of the football players, we got an awesome shot of the scene, the only problem being the very close proximity to the GoPro rig, especially when Xavi puts his foot right on the “ball” at the end of the shot.

On set picture 1 – picture 2 – picture 3 – picture 4

We knew as soon as we saw the footage, that the parallax between the separate cameras would be a huge challenge to stitch to a seamless panorama. When you shoot a still panorama, you can use a rotating nodal head to ensure the lens center is at the same exact location for each angle, but with a moving image, this becomes physically impossible as 6 cameras cannot occupy the same point in space, so even though the GoPro 3’s and the 360 mount is very small, the closest safe distance is about 70cm, and we’re working at about 10cm at the closest point.

 Screenshot of our final stitch solution in Nuke.

The solution was extensive rotoscoping of all players on screen, a rather complex camera projection setup in Nuke and a lot of manual matching and warping the plates to a single seamless 3K 360×360° panorama. One factor that actually helped us in this instance is that the entire background were to be replaced either way, so we didn’t need to “save” the original background, instead we fixed the players and the ground, and extended the set with a panoramic CG render of the Maracanã – the official World Cup stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

The next advanced 360 panorama comes during the final goal sequence, again we see what the Brazuca sees as Messi pushes forward and shoots us towards the goal, and the ball lifts off and flies freely. For this shot we did three things I’ve never seen before in a 360 shot.

SpiderCam rig, 360 style – Rigging itOn the groundIn the air

First, we mounted a tiny consumer-grade GoPro 360 mount on the extremely advanced Spidercam system, it was the first time the Spidercam team had done such a thing, so it was a really interesting experiment. In order to control the system, we mounted a Canon 5D on the normal camera plate of the rig for the remote control guys to have some eyes in the sky, and then the actual GoPro rig at the bottom of a long stick to get it further away from the spider rig itself.

Secondly, we managed to pull a camera track from the footage that had a coherent camera path that would work for all angles, and allowed us to render a 360° CG panorama of the CG stadium – crowds and all – that matches with the stitch of the GoPro footage. The whole geometry of this task was hard to picture beforehand, but the numbers worked out, and we had our first moving full-360 composited shot.

Third is – as if the above wasn’t enough – due to the limited availability of the actual football stars, the player you see in the shot is the body double of Leo Messi, so went ahead and did a face replacement so that it appears to be Messi himself shooting the ball. We were happy to hear that Leo approved the switch personally!

Leo Messi goal sequence – CG Face replacement – Finished panorama

We did similar things for the other panoramas, except there was no CG background in the others. Apart from the complex stitching, there were only relatively minor fixes, such as removing a few crew members and fixing shadows of the rig itself to appear as a ball instead of a camera.

For the linear cut of the film, we had about 40 vfx shots containing the CG stadium. Due to the nature of these shoots, there’s no way to prepare green screens or any of that luxury, so we knew all of this would have to be solved by roto. We had a team of 5 Nuke artists and 3 CG artists working on this for around 6 weeks to complete all the major shots, panoramas and minor fixes.

The crowd of the stadium is obviously very important to create the scale and and feeling of joy and excitement you get from watching a large event like the World Cup. We created 20 high-resolution characters in Softimage, each with 5-7 sets of clothing including team shirts. We also created a large variation of animated behavior and put everything together in Clarisse iFX which is a layout and rendering application which can handle very large amounts of data and render it using physically correct lighting models. This allowed us to quickly match the light in our backgrounds with the actual shots and iterate our versions with ease. We added smoke and confetti to add to the cheerful feeling and to get a sense of depth and added scale in compositing.

CG crowd and stadium – Before and after

CG workflow – Screenshot 1Screenshot 2 – Screenshot 3

Due to some previous uncertainty as to which players were available, some players didn’t have numbers or names printed on their shirts, so we needed to address this issue after the fact. There are 7 shots which have one or more blank shirts where we needed to match the motion of the shirt including the rippling fabric in order to add the numbers and names.

Example of shirt numbers that were added in post.

The sound design was built by STOPP/SOUND’s Eric Thorsell in at our sounds studios in Stockholm from scratch with incredible attention to detail as there was no sound on set. Eric counted 150 ball-kicks and over 400 footsteps throughout the finished production that needed to be added. The audience noise is a composite of 40 different sounds from various arenas around the world. All sound was delivered to our friends at Dinahmoe which turned the audio into an binaural 360-sound for all the interactive shots.

The project was co-directed by Bram Coppens of Caviar and STOPP/LA’s own Zachary Richter. STOPP/LA also designed and produced the whole interactive experience together with agency TBWA/Chiat and all post production and finalizing was done at STOPP/POST PRODUCTION in Stockholm.