Rolls Royce + The Mill

Creating the visuals of “I am a 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.

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.”

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.

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