Rolls Royce + The Mill

Rolls Royce + The Mill

Rolls Royce | “I Am Ghost”
The Mill is a visual effects and content creation studio collaborating on VFX, digital and design projects for the advertising, games and music industries. With studios in London, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, they partner with the world’s best agencies, groundbreaking directors, creative firms and visionary brands. Working with Daughter.Studio, Mill+ created this stylish spot for Rolls Royce and their latest ‘Ghost’ model. The Mill’s VFX team utilized Legacy 4K glass overlays from Lens Distortions. The slick spot moves seamlessly from one image to the next using clever geometric based design to depict various aspects of a highly desirable lifestyle, personifying the ‘ghost’ or essence of the car and its owner.
“I wanted something textural and emotive, not the normal approach to a car commercial. I was thinking title sequence beauty, seamless transitioning, moments of wonder… more music promo and fashion film.”
Mill+ Director FILFURY explains, “This was a dream project to work on – design elegance, rooted in geometric form, symmetry, and simplicity. This was the story of ‘I AM GHOST’. My desire was to hint at luxurious, functional design found within our owner’s life, and do this through a palette of clever reveals and transitions – matching vehicle form with architecture, objects, motion, and nature. All breathtakingly elegant and purposeful. I wanted something textural and emotive, not the normal approach to a car commercial. I was thinking title sequence beauty, seamless transitioning moments of wonder, more music promo and fashion film. The result is a dark sophisticated image palette with rim lit form. This was design lead, sexy and cool. Confident mark making through a beautiful celebration of the Ghost form. This isn’t design for design’s sake however, there is substance and storytelling.”
“The glass effects help add a touch of nostalgic feeling to what can sometimes be stark and crisp environments. They harp back to a photographic, lensic treatment many viewers feel more connection with.”
Mill Lead 3D Artist Dan Moller continues, “One of the main challenges of this spot was working out how to blend a large number of shots together; it’s about three-quarters of the way through the film before a hard-cut takes place. Through careful previz and shot development, rapid iteration with both rough 3D and testing in 2D we were able to find some quality solutions. By leveraging all our departments against this problem-solving process, from concept to motion graphics and design through to CG and 2D we were able to easily troubleshoot all problems put before us. A key challenge came in art directing the rolling highlights across the form of the Ghost. We rendered reflected UV passes, then rotomated gobo shapes over the top using STMaps in Nuke. These gobo sequences were then rendered back out of Nuke, plugged into the UV shapes in Maya and rendered back over the car. This resulted in a speedy and intuitive solution to the highlights problem through a slick collaboration between our 2D and 3D departments.”
It was important to Rolls Royce to differentiate the Ghost film from their other product films, primarily through an emphasis on colour. This became a particular focus for our lighting team to ensure this was communicated as effectively as possible, and also played into our post treatment in 2D. During this phase led by Mill 2D Lead, James Mac, lens elements were carefully selected to add both texture and colour to each shot, with those finishing touches truly elevating the film.’ Amongst them were glass overlay elements from Lens Distortions.
“The glass elements have been a long-standing consideration for myself when I need to add depth and layered chromatic dispersion to shots. They help add a touch of nostalgic feeling to what can sometimes be stark and crisp environments. They harp back to a photographic, lensic treatment many viewers feel more connection with. I also used the Legacy 4K glass effects to drive narrow focus effects through portions of the imagery, helping take the edge off the CGI elements,” James Mac said. “Virtually every project benefits from having Lens Distortions used to treat and layer the frame. They are my go-to textural footage,” he added.
See more work from The Mill @MILLCHANNEL FACEBOOK.COM/MILLCHANNEL THEMILL.COM

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The Mill

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The Mill | Castrol EDGE “Clone Rival”
“The Castrol compositing team loved the Legacy set by Lens Distortions and wanted to use them to add a stylistic touch to the spot.”
The Mill is a visual effects and content creation studio collaborating on VFX, digital and design projects for the advertising, games and music industries. They partner with the world’s best agencies, groundbreaking directors, creative firms and visionary brands. They pride themselves on forming partnerships built on creative excellence and cutting-edge technologies.

With studios in London, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, The Mill boasts a creative culture of talented artists from multinational and homegrown backgrounds, nurturing innovation, flexibility and diverse ideas. VFX Supervisor Pete Rypstra shared a little glimpse into their project for Castrol EDGE which utilized our Legacy 4k glass elements.

“The movements of the light elements lent themselves beautifully to the effect we were trying to create.”
“The Mill worked with The Brooklyn Brothers and Director Jako of Annex Films to create the new Castrol EDGE Titanium Trial ‘Clone Rival’,” Rypstra said.

“We used a combination of multiple camera passes as well as using photo-real, full CG cars to give the illusion that there were two cars on the track. We were also asked to give the Clone rival its own distinct look to distinguish it from the real car.”

“The Castrol compositing team loved the Legacy set by Lens Distortions and wanted to use them to add a stylistic touch to the spot. In addition to that, we were looking for creative ways to create heat haze effects to ‘dirty up’ shots and put the camera amongst it all.”
“James MacLachlan, our lead nuke artist on the job, built a system which used a mixture of the various Lens Distortion elements to drive distortion and blur nodes in the script. In the end, we combined Optical flares, a particle system from the CG team, and the Legacy pack from Lens Distortions to create the apparitional ‘Clone’ Rival look,” Rypstra added.

“The movements of the light elements lent themselves beautifully to the effect we were trying to create.”

See more work from The Mill

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Noah Shulman – Cinematic Power

Noah Shulman – Cinematic Power

Cinematic Power | Filmmaker Noah Shulman shares his intentional approach to visual effects
We’ve been fans of visual storyteller Noah Shulman since 2015 when he shared with us how he used Lens Distortions on his commercial project To The Core, which profiled veterans of the US Marine Corps.

Today Shulman works as Creative Director at Vantage, Mic’s branded content studio. After working with brands like Nike, Ford, Coach and Vogue, this year he released his passion project, “Built By Pain,” which chronicles the comeback story of MMA fighter Brendan Barrett.

We asked Shulman to sit down with us and talk about his thinking behind this original work.

In your mind what’s the biggest difference in the creative process between a typical commercial project and a cinematic one like Built by Pain?

The biggest difference is time and time alone.

Having time allowed me to foster a natural connection and trust with Brendan over many phone conversations. After hours of talking about his life story it became apparent that everything came back to the shattering of his hand, which ended up becoming the anchor of the story.

What I learned is that trust between subject and filmmaker allows the most vulnerable moments to unfold.

On the flipside, the disadvantage of working on a personal project is being your own client and critiquing your own work. The hardest part is taking a step back and knowing when it’s complete.

 

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“For me, Lens Distortions are the highest quality, most natural-looking effects.”
What surprised you most about the world of MMA fighting?

The goal from the start was to use a violent sport to tell a human story.

I think it was less of a surprise and more of an affirmation to uncover everything that goes into training and fighting from a mental, physical and emotional standpoint.

I wanted to share a human story that people could relate to and be inspired by, regardless of their knowledge of MMA.

How did you ensure that relatable story came out on camera?

Telling the subject to “put on a show” in a space, or place, that doesn’t resonate with the past can be a slippery slope. This is why the trust and vulnerability was key to pulling out the emotions we wanted on screen.

For example, Brendan never saw the photos of his past, images of his shattered hand and his grandfather until he unveiled it on camera.

“The more subtly I use the effects, the more natural they look.”
In the trailer the willpower of Barrett is palpable. The sound, lighting and cinematography all work together to dramatically express his massive physical and emotional presence. How did you approach the visuals to capture that visceral physicality?

For me, the sound was just as important as the visuals. We didn’t capture sound on set, so everything had to be well-thought out and well-crafted in order to really draw you into the scene. I wanted to treat everything, except the narration, with an almost ethereal, dreamy state which, to me, ties it into the past.

Because the approach was already very cinematic, I wanted to keep the visuals as raw as possible; FX needed to be limited. The kaleidoscopic shots and a few of the transitions with double overlaid images all tie back to the dreamy feel of a memory.

What was your technique for those kaleidoscopic shots?

Very simple. I shattered a mirror on set and filmed through a long lens. No special FX needed!

Your use of Lens Distortions effects in this film are subtle but hit particular emotional notes. For example, we love how you combined some of our glass overlays with the double overlaid images at 2:24. How do you balance live effects with tools like ours?

There needs to be justification for any visual tool or effect.

For me, Lens Distortions are the highest quality, most natural-looking effects. Adding your glass elements to shots where I couldn’t achieve the look live allowed me the flexibility to adjust the visuals in post as needed.

I find that the more subtly I use the effects, the more natural they look.

“Know your voice. Hustle. Learn. Create.”
You’ve been doing professional video work for quite a while now. What editing products have become your “go to” tools for achieving incredible high-quality results?

I try to stick to the basics: Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator.

I would say experience, intuition, openness and feedback are the most important tools.

Know your voice. Hustle. Learn. Create.

See more of Noah Shulman’s work at noahshulman.com.

White In Revery // Cinematic Wedding Films

White In Revery // Cinematic Wedding Films

White In Revery | Cinematic wedding films

“We consider Lens Distortions effects as that ‘cherry-on-top’ to the film.”

White In Revery is a husband and wife team based in Denver, CO that specializes in storytelling primarily, but not exclusively, as wedding filmmakers.

They currently use our full lineup of 4K Video Overlays.

White in Revery shared some of their best tips for editing wedding videos with our Light Hits lens flares and Shimmer particle effects.

“We love utilizing Lens Distortions effects to smoothly guide the viewer throughout our films and to articulate certain moods. Sometimes there is negative space that we subtly fill with a Light Hit to help the viewer focus on the content and emotion that is actually going on in the scene.”

“We use Light Hits to add movement to a still frame, smooth out transitions between shots, and even strengthen pivotal beats in a song to make the scene a bit stronger and more effective. We consider Lens Distortions effects as that ‘cherry-on-top’ to the film.”

“For receptions, Shimmer is fantastic. We sometimes have to balance a photographer’s flash into a shot and the Shimmer pack really smooths it out. By incorporating Shimmer into dancing sequences, we feel it adds just enough movement and energy to the frame without being too distracting.”

 

See more of White In Revery’s work at whiteinrevery.com.

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Optically-captured in stunning detail, Shimmer is made from glistening particles, glass shards, and explosive fragments of light.

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Cinematic haze, smoke, and atmospheric effects

Legacy

Stunning textures, light leaks, and flares. Made from shards of glass and crystal, Legacy is packed with curated clips for your next music video, commercial, or narrative.

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Behind the Scenes: EXPRESS – OneEleven

Behind the Scenes: EXPRESS – OneEleven

When the creative department at EXPRESS creates video shorts for some of their women’s clothing lines, they’ve leaned on Lens Distortions as a key ingredient to craft a distinct look.

We caught up with Jordan Schmelzer, the in-house Video Editor at Express, who’s been working with the company in some capacity since early 2015. Before that, he was a freelancer for almost 10 years as a jack-of-all-trades type of production guy, working with clients such as Chipotle, White Castle, Victoria’s Secret, and Nationwide Insurance.

Jordan was kind enough to give us a bit of the backstory on these and share some images from production.

What’s the backstory on these projects for EXPRESS?

The goal for projects like these is to showcase notable models sporting looks for EXP Core and One Eleven, which are subsets of the Express line of clothing. One Eleven is a line of casual tops and EXP Core is fitness apparel, both designed for women.

Most videos are essentially look-books, and often have somewhat of a “behind-the-scenes” feel to them.  They live on the Express website, YouTube, and are pushed via Instagram, Facebook, etc.

EXPRESS One Eleven
EXPRESS One Eleven
EXPRESS One Eleven
EXPRESS One Eleven

What is production like on these spots?

Productions are very fast paced because they are primarily photoshoots where we simultaneously grab video assets. Like most shoots, there is a lot to get in a little time. For most One Eleven productions we’ve been using a small three man crew with two Sony FS7 cameras. For the most recent shoot with Emily Ratajkoswki, the team traveled to Puerto Rico with a  slightly bigger crew, RED dragon, Movi and drone. Everything in beautiful 4k.

 

 

EXPRESS One Eleven
EXPRESS One Eleven

 

Walk us through your post-production workflow on these.

The challenge is to make the videos feel like more than just a moving catalog. We want to bring life and emotion to these videos, and deliver a specific feel and message that resonates with our brand. When you see a photo of a girl in a shirt, it’s just that, but when you add music, action, and a color grade, it becomes much more than a girl in a shirt, it becomes a story.

“We’ve taken such a liking to Lens Distortions effects that they’re becoming an integral part of our video workflow, specifically with our One Eleven clothing line.”

 

For us, a good edit starts with music. Chris Borman (Senior Art Director) and I get together and choose what we think would be a really great music track to match the video – something that fits the brand, mood of the shoot, and most importantly, something that would make for a great edit.

Often times we are able to license songs from artists to pair with the footage, other times we create custom music tracks. Once we find something we really like it’s just a matter of choosing the best shots and cutting to the beat. Then comes color grading and Lens Distortions, which is my favorite part.

EXPRESS One Eleven
EXPRESS One Eleven
EXPRESS One Eleven
EXPRESS One Eleven
EXPRESS One Eleven

Any interesting challenges with these edits?

The original One Eleven concept was to shoot in an open NYC loft with mostly natural light. Many of the shots have large bright windows in the background. This presented a challenge for the video team because even when shooting with Slog3, it can be difficult to expose a shot for both inside and outside simultaneously. Needless to say, we were left with some over-exposed shots.

 

While this presented a challenge, the color grading process and Lens Distortions really solved the problem we were facing. The natural-looking Light Hits turned the footage from drab to dynamic and made the over-exposed shots look intentional and really dramatic.

  • Before-Hailey Baldwin
    After-Hailey Baldwin
    Before Hailey Baldwin After

  • Before-Hailey Baldwin Express
    After-Hailey Baldwin Express
    Before Hailey Baldwin Express After

  • Before-Hailey Baldwin Express
    After-Hailey Baldwin Express
    Before Hailey Baldwin Express After

What kind of look and feel were you trying to create with these spots?

Traditional Express videos are equally video look-books, but they are a little more produced-looking. With One Eleven, we wanted to have a very natural, easy feel to complement the nature of the clothing. Adding Light Hits and Legacy elements from Lens Distortions brought a layer of natural-looking beauty and depth to each shot.

We’ve taken such a liking to Lens Distortions effects that they’re becoming an integral part of our video workflow, specifically with our One Eleven clothing line.

To see more of Jordan’s work, check out jordanschmelzer.com.
He currently uses Legacy, Light Hits, Shimmer, and Luminary 4K packs from Lens Distortions.

“Adding Light Hits and Legacy elements from Lens distortions brought an element of natural-looking beauty and depth to each shot.”

Jordan Schmelzer

Editor, EXPRESS

Behind the Scenes // Eye of the Storm

Behind the Scenes // Eye of the Storm

When Utah based synth pop artist Garrett Garfield needed a music video for the single from his first EP, he turned to his longtime friend and collaborator, Aaron Sorensen. We were really impressed with the final version of “Eye of the Storm,” which uses a lot of unique glass textures and lighting effects, including Lens Distortions. We reached out to Aaron to get to know more of his story and how this project came to be.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your experience, and what you do. 
Ever since I was a kid I was always making videos with my friends. At the time I could be found on my parents computer literally exporting every frame from iMovie and importing them into Photoshop to paint each one. Over the years I made my life easier and learned After Effects, Cinema 4D and currently Houdini and Nuke.

Now I’ve been working as a VFX artist for 6 years professionally on a variety of projects. And recently had the opportunity to Direct and VFX supervise a Game Of War commercial.

Walk us through your creative process a bit. What inspired the concept and story for the video?
The song is very poppy and is about embracing the storms of life and dancing through them. From the get go, I knew how I wanted it to look. A storm chasing a girl, abstract lighting shots, shooting through glass elements and so forth. I came up with a simple story of a girl that is trying to escape the storm and finally realizes she must accept it. Garrett was representing the storm.

What did you live production rig consist of?
Our budget was really small and I was more doing it for the passion of the song and the video. But after we totaled how much it would have cost paying everyone that helped, it was around $10,000.
We shot on the Red Epic and Dragon with Ziess Cp2 lenses and a movi rig. We had a lot of friends and family donate there time and talents to make this all happen.

Walk us through your post-production tools and workflow.
We edited the video in Adobe Premiere, after which I took a couple shots into After Effects to create a “hero” shot to get a look a feel for the video. Once we locked the edit I spent around 2 full weeks tracking in mocha, painting clouds in Photoshop, compositing and coloring everything in After Effects.

Any scenes that were particularly fun or difficult to create? 
One of my favorite shots I did was of Garrett dancing in slow motion while surrounded by the storm. It was pretty simple but turned out pretty cool! All I did was scaled him down to make the shot looked wider than we could have filmed. Captured a frame, brought it into Photoshop and started to paint a bunch of clouds. I broke up the clouds into different layers and then using the liquify tool in After Effects I animated the clouds slowly moving. Then composited a couple lighting strikes from stock footage and that is it 🙂 Turned out pretty cool!

You took full advantage of our Legacy video effects. Can you tell us a bit about how you used them in this project?
In camera we had shot a lot of glass effects, so while editing I started to notice we were lacking that same effect during any VFX sequence. That is when I found Lens Distortions to be really handy! I saw an ad for in on Facebook around the time I was editing and thought “No way! This is perfect for this project!”  And it was the perfect tool to help me really sell the visual effects. I had a lot of people ask me how I composited VFX behind glass distortions. Dirtying up vfx and adding Lens Distortion makes them feel much more organic and believable.

  • Before-Garrett Garfield
    After-Garrett Garfield
    Before Garrett Garfield After
  • Before-Standing
    After-Standing
    Before Standing After
  • Before-Running
    After-Running
    Before Running After

What’s next for you? Any exciting projects coming up?
Currently I am working on a Game of War Commercial I directed! It is my biggest client yet. I was really excited when they liked my work and pitch for the commercial. I have a long road ahead of me with the visual effects on this project but it will definitely stretch me.

As filmmakers, we’re always looking for sources of inspiration. Where do you look to be inspired?
I am constantly on Vimeo getting inspired by other people work. Particularly Salmon Lighthelm, Dan DiFelice (at The Mill), joseph kahn (music video director) and many more. Outside of watching more videos for inspiration I listen to a lot of ambient soundtrack type music, going for a drive and talking with people about life has definitely given me inspiration.

You can see more of Aaron’s work at vimeo.com/aaronsbot.
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Aaron currently uses Legacy from Lens Distortions.

Dirtying up the VFX and adding Lens Distortion makes them feel much more organic and believable.

Aaron Sorensen

Filmmaker