Digital Domain Collaborates with Michael Bay on 'Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen' Movie Tie-Ins

July 5, 2009 10:31 pm

Tags: Burger King, Digital Domain, LG Phones, Renderosity, Transformers, versa phone

Digital Production Company Lends Character Creation Talents to Bay's Movie and Promotional Spots for LG and Burger King


Venice, CA-July 1, 2009-Digital Domain is bringing a supporting cast of robot characters from the hugely anticipated summer action flick "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" to life, but that's not all they're helping to realize for filmmaker Michael Bay. The digital production studio is also contributing visual effects and character animation work on a series of movie tie-in promotions for LG Mobile Phones and Burger King, directed by Bay and Rob Cohen respectively through Bay's commercial production company, The Institute for the Development of Enhanced Perceptual Awareness. The spots are airing in cinemas and on television while "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," from DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures, hit theaters June 24, 2009.


The Transformers marketing tie-in campaigns capture the same action-packed cinematic quality as the movie franchise, due in large part to the sharing of production talent, and, in the case of LG, digital assets across the feature film and commercial production pipelines.

"Deceptiphone" spot in the Renderosity Video Center

Said Ed Ulbrich, President, Commercials and Executive VP of Production, Digital Domain, "Our relationship with Michael Bay extends beyond the 'Transformers' films, and these spots build on a collaboration that dates back more than a decade. Even before Michael became co-chairman of Digital Domain, we worked on a number of feature and commercial projects he directed and Michael has always pushed us to achieve the impossible."

Turning the LG Versa into a "Deceptiphone"

To promote the LG limited edition "Transformers" Versa phone, Bay helmed a :30 TVC titled "Deceptiphone" that plays on the Versa's cutting-edge features by comparing it to the shapeshifting abilities of a Transformer. Via ad agency Young & Rubicam, New York, the spot opens on a man leaving the movies, phone in hand. Much to his surprise, he comes face to face with Transformer Optimus Prime, who towers over him and booms "Decepticon!" The man assumes his mobile phone is being mistaken for the enemy robot, and shakily informs Optimus Prime that it's just the LG Versa. The phone however, springs to life in the palm of his hand, "transforming" into a camcorder, then a GPS device and finally a computer as the man looks on incredulously. But Optimus Prime insists he sees the enemy robot, just as the reveal shows the real Decepticon sneaking up from behind.


Digital Domain Visual Effects Supervisor Jay Barton provided on-set VFX supervision and oversaw a team of character animators to orchestrate the phone transformations and interactions with the various bits of technology and the lead actor. Because Digital Domain's Features division worked on the first "Transformers" movie and this sequel, the artists had a pre-existing toolkit of digital assets that they were able to reuse to construct the phone as it transforms, imbuing it with the actual gears, electronic pistons, cylinders and other parts used to build a Transformer. This approach allowed the spot to stay within the fantasy realm of the movie and also maintain its high-end aesthetic. Further pushing the big-budget filmic feel, Bay's production team also used the film assets for Optimus Prime and Decepticon (provided by ILM) and shot the spot on the same downtown L.A. location as the film, with the same camera, lighting kit and lens package. Fans of the first "Transformers" movie might also recognize that the commercial is shot by shot, a faithfully recreated scene in which actor Shia LaBeouf first meets Optimus Prime.

Transforming the Burger King into a Kingbot

Digital Domain also teamed up with ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky and director Rob Cohen ("The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," "Stealth," "xXx") on a tie-in campaign promoting Burger King's Transform Your Way scratch-and-win game, which is giving away $1 million cash, among other prizes. The spots "Money Mayhem" and "Truck Shaker" show a broiler in the Burger King kitchen that "transforms" into a giant robot version of the iconic BK King before exploding through the restaurant's walls to present the formidable cash prize to lucky diners leaving the restaurant.

Burger King "Money Mayhem" spot in the Renderosity Video Center

Digital Domain Visual Effects Supervisor Jonah Hall and his team did extensive look development for the Kingbot to ensure he was a recognizable hybrid of the King mascot and a Transformer. Digital Domain worked closely with the production designers, practical effects team and set builders - many of whom were "borrowed" from the movie's below-the-line team - to determine how large the Kingbot should be so everything would scale accordingly. After the set builders created a fake extension to the Burger King restaurant (so the real-life franchise in Chatsworth, CA wasn't actually blown up), Hall and his team did previz to determine how the robot should move within the commercial. Based on this rough schematic, Digital Domain drew out areas where the practical explosives would ultimately detonate. In addition to the TV spots, Digital Domain is also providing an animated sequence featuring the Kingbot that will play on

Burger King "Truck Shaker" spot in the Renderosity Video Center

"These Burger King promos were a lot of fun, in large part because we had dialogue and sync sound, and we got to work with actors," said Jonah Hall, Visual Effects Supervisor, Digital Domain. "Rob Cohen and the production team at The Institute wanted these spots to be very cinematic, right down to the decision to shoot in wide-screen anamorphic and by paying special attention to framing, action and camera moves. They also had Amir Mokri, his DP from 'The Fast and the Furious,' shoot the campaign."

About Digital Domain

Digital Domain is an Academy Award-winning digital production studio with a reputation for innovation and artistry. The studio has created visual effects for 75+ movies that have collectively generated more than $12 billion in worldwide box-office sales, including most recently, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for which it won the Academy Award for Visual Effects. A creative giant in advertising, Digital Domain works with a stellar group of A-list directors including David Fincher, Mark Romanek, Joseph Kosinski, Carl Erik Rinsch and more. Industry recognition for Digital Domain's advertising work includes many Clio, AICP, and Cannes Lion awards and other industry honors. The company is continually pushing into new territory and is being recognized for its pioneering work in photo-real digital humans and productions that bring the worlds of movies, games, advertising and the web closer together. Digital Domain is privately held and based in Venice, California.


Production Credits: LG
CLIENT: LG Electronics, Inc.
PRODUCT: LG Versa Mobile Phone

"Deceptiphone" CINEMA: May 29, 2009

ADVERTISING AGENCY: Young & Rubicam/New York, NY
Global Creative Director: Darren Moran
Creative Director: Gabriel Hoskins
Copywriter: Daniel Crumine
Art Director: Eric Martz
Director Content Production Nathy Aviram
Director Content Production Lora Schulson
Senior Content Producer: Alex Gianni
Assistant Producer George Roca
Senior Account Manager: Alexandra Sloane
Account Supervisor Pamela Lloyd

PRODUCTION COMPANY: The Institute/Venice, CA
Director: Michael Bay
Executive Producer: Scott Gardenhour
Executive Producer: Sam Penfield
Producer: Karen Rohrbacher
Production Supervisor: Lindsay Rosaaen
Director or Photography: Amir Mokri

President of Commercials, Executive Producer: Ed Ulbrich
Executive Producer/Head of Production: Karen Anderson
Visual Effects Supervisor Jay Barton
CG Supervisor Ronald D. Herbst
VFX Producer Chris Fieldhouse
VFX Coordinator Stephanie Escobar
Flame Artist Matthew J.D. Bramante
Nuke Compositor Rafael F. Colón
Digital Artist Tim Jones
Digital Artist Daisuke Nagae
Digital Artist Cody Williams
Roto Artist Hilery Johnson Copeland
On Set Tracker Scott Edelstein
Integration Tracker Shelley Larocca Courte

EDITORIAL HOUSE: Nomad/Santa Monica, CA
Editor: Tom Muldoon
Executive Producer: Susye Melega
Producer: Nicole Steele

SOUND HOUSE DESIGN: Nomad/Santa Monica, CA
Sound Designer: Francois Blaignan
Executive Producer: Susye Melega
Producer: Nicole Steele

Mixer: Peter Rincon
Producer: Dawn Redmann

Production Credits: BURGER KING
CLIENT: Burger King Corporation
PRODUCT: Game Pieces

"Money Mayhem": JUNE 22, 2009
"Truck Shaker": JULY 1, 2009

ADVERTISING AGENCY: Crispin, Porter, + Bogusky/Denver, Co
Executive Creative Director: Rob Reilly
VP Creative Director: Bill Wright
VP Creative Director: James Dawson-Hollis
Copywriter: Nathan Dills
Senior Art Director: Matt Denyer
Senior Producer: Chad Hopenwasser
Integrated Producer: Cindi Blondell

PRODUCTION COMPANY: The Institute/Venice, CA
Director: Rob Cohen
Executive Producer: Sam Penfield
Executive Producer: Scott Gardenhour
Producer: Karen Rohrbacher
DP: Amir Mokri

President of Commercials, Executive Producer: Ed Ulbrich
Executive Producer / Head of Production: Karen Anderson
Visual Effects Supervisor: Jonah Hall
Visual Effects Producer: Melanie La Rue
CG Supervisor: Brad Hayes
VFX Coordinator: Stephanie Escobar
Sr. Flame Artist: Andrew Eksner
Sr. Flame Artist: Jeff Heusser
Flame Artist: Matthew J.D. Bramante
Lead Animator: Marc Perrera
Animator: Dan Patterson
FX Animator: James Atkinson
FX Animator: Jun Watanabe
Digital Artist: Casey Benn
Digital Artist: Adrian Dimond
Digital Artist: Jon Gourley
Digital Artist: John Lima
Digital Artist: Masa Narita
Digital Artist: Tim Nassauer
Digital Artist: Chris Norpchen
Digital Artist: Brian White
Matte Painter: Chris Duncan
Matte Painter: Dark Hoffman
Nuke Compositor: Rafael F. Colón
Nuke Compositor: Jacquie Cooper
Nuke Compositor: Michael Morehouse
Graphic Artist: Cody Williams
Roto Artist: Hilery Johnson Copeland
Roto Artist: Karin Last
Roto Artist: Rob Liscombe
On Set Tracker: Scott Gsop Edelstein

EDITORIAL HOUSE: Nomad/Santa Monica, CA
Editor: Tom Muldoon & Jason Painter
Executive Producer: Susye Melega
Producer: Nicole Steele

SOUND HOUSE DESIGN: Soundelux/Hollywood, CA
Sound Designer: Scott Gershin

Mixer: Sam Casas
Executive Producer: Bruce Horwitz

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Article Comments

Hellwolve ( posted at 6:10AM Wed, 08 July 2009

The commercials look pretty fine, but IMHO it's a shame they don't follow a self-imposed rule used for the movies themselves: any Transformer keeps the mass of the object they're transforming out of. The Burger King bot, for instance, almost triples in mass, from the looks of it.

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