Monday, September 12, 2011

The Lucasfilm/ESPN Commercial

The commercial we shot for Lucasfilm and ESPN back on August 17, 2011 is now airing, so I can finally share more details about it. First, here is the commercial on YouTube:

As you can see, R2 has a very small roll in the ad, but I couldn't really say much about the other characters until now. The real stars are the ESPN crew and Vader.

Storyboards on the set gave us an idea of how the ad would flow.

501st members Dean Amstutz and Michael Bender served as the stormtroopers, and Christi Ladnier was our Boba Fett. Lucasfilm provided the Vader, Chewbacca and Admiral Akbar characters. ESPN hosts Mark Schlereth and Tedy Bruschi rounded out the cast.

Lucasfilm's archivist accompanied the Lucasfilm costumes for the shoot.

The commercial was shot with two cameras, and many, many takes were done from different angles, with different characters on the set at any given time.

The audio for Vader and the stormtroopers was piped in via speakers on the set, so the characters kind of pantomimed their rolls (although "Can't wait" was missing, so Vader spoke the line through his helmet on the set, and the final audio was added later).

One of the particularly interesting things to me was that even though we were on a green screen set, they used a system that was able to composite an animatic background in real-time as they shot, so the director could get a good idea of what the finished shot would look like. I was able to get a picture of the computer system that modeled the finished design. Neat stuff.

Most of the morning was spent shooting Vader and the stormtroopers with poor Mark Schlereth, who must have done that choking at least 50 times during the day. Because of the somewhat crowded set and the fact that I couldn't use the camera flash, I wasn't really able to get anything other than blurry pictures of the monitors.

After the lunch break, there was more shooting with the troopers and Boba Fett, along with some of the others. I was able to move in a little closer.

I'm sorry, but it's the law, I have to say it: "It's a trap!"

Finally, at the end of the day, R2 was called to the set for his shots. First, we set up the profile shot, and then the over-the-shoulder shot, which open the commercial. This was easy stuff. No driving around trying to hit my marks. Just turn the dome and stop at the right spot.

We also did the head-on shot of R2 flailing his arms and turning his head, while playing the scream sound. Since I only had two hands to work with, I worked the transmitter with the director, as he opened and closed one of the arms, while I handled the other arm, the dome, and the sound.

With R2's final shot complete, they called it a wrap and started striking the set.

The crew and others got the usual photos with R2.

It was another fun an interesting shoot, and I appreciate having had the opportunity to participate.

The full photoset is here.


James said...

:-) love the video!

Edward Reed (edwardo) said...

AMAZING!!! Was looking forward to what this was all about when you hinted about it weeks ago... who played Chewie?

Paul said...

My R2 is hoping to hang out with your R2s someday...if you bring the famous people too!

Seriously...congrats! Couldn't happen to a more deserving builder

Victor Franco said...

Thanks guys, very kind of you.

Edward, Chewie was played by Mike Healy. Mike played Chewie at last year's Dodger game as well. He can be seen as the tall guy photo-bombing this picture:


Edward Reed (edwardo) said...

Cool! Mike Healy was born to play Chewie! He is a perfect match and was awesome!

Andy said...

Congrats Victor! My son and I loved the commercial!