How VFX Artist Josh Johnson Created His ADDY Award-Winning Spot for Callaway Bank

July 24, 2011 4:03 pm

Tags: Adobe, After Effects, CINEMA 4D, MAXON, Photoshop, Scott Strohmaier

How VFX Artist Josh Johnson Created His ADDY Award-Winning Spot for Callaway Bank

When Callaway Bank hired Missouri-based Pure to create a 30-second TV spot for their new Fav credit card, Josh Johnson, Pure's visual effects supervisor, had to come up with an imaginative plan, fast.

Turnaround was tight, but Johnson had a lot of creative control over the project. So after discussing ideas with David Anderson, Pure's director on the project, he used MAXON's CINEMA 4D, After Effects and Photoshop to create a fast-paced, original spot that showcased Callaway's new cards, which customers can personalize with their own photos. See the spot here:

Josh Johnson, VFX supervisor at Pure, created an ADDY Award-winning spot for Callaway Bank in seven days.

Well received by Callaway Bank and the critics, the spot has already won two Gold ADDY Awards: Best 30-second Television Spot and Best Motion Graphic Visual Effects. Stills from the ad have been used for some of Callaway's print ads, and the bank is now one of Pure's clients.

Callaway's FAV cards spill from a camera in the 30-second spot, illustrating the infinite number of possibilities customers get with personalization.

Inspiration meets ingenuity

Finding a way to make clear in 30 seconds why customers would want to personalize a credit card with a favorite photo was no easy task. After getting approval for his boards, Johnson spent seven very long days bringing his concept to life when normally that same amount of work would have taken three or four weeks. "I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do and how I was going to do it, but I knew MoGraph was going to be the workhorse of the commercial," he recalls.

Johnson created a mini green screen by cutting construction paper into the shape of a credit card before shooting.

In a flash of inspiration, he searched the office for some green construction paper. By cutting it into the shape of a credit card, he was able to create a mini green screen. "I'm an artist that solves problems," Johnson says. "Anytime you work on a visual effects shot, or even motion graphics, nothing's a one-button-click solution. That doesn't happen in our world." See more of his VFX work at his website:

Johnson used MoGraph's cloner object, random effector and a plain effector to create the cards then textured them with the multi shader. "With MoGraph I was able to make a multi-shader layer with almost 100 cards on it and then I threw that on top of a cloner object, so it basically did most of my shading work just like that," he says.

For help with lighting, Johnson used Nick Campbell's HDR Light Kit Pro.

To ensure the best image possible, background plates were shot with a Red One camera. Four of the spot's eight cuts were created entirely in CG using C4D and After Effects, and the other four were heavily altered digitally. Anderson used Final Cut Pro to cut together the four plates of RED footage while Johnson used After Effects, Photoshop and Mocha for everything from rotoscoping, keying and tracking to light wrapping and final compositing.

Learning on the job

While winning two ADDY Awards was an unexpected pleasure, Johnson hasn't let the attention go to his head. Just three years ago he was doing corporate video work and planning for the future.

Then he read Stu Maschwitz's, "The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap," and discovered the work of motion graphics artist Tim Clapham. "I didn't know how I was going to do it," Johnson recalls. "I just knew I was going to figure it out." So he went out and bought a camera, a computer and some software and taught himself After Effects and CINEMA 4D. "And ever since, I've never really stopped."

Johnson used the MoGraph cloner with a multi shader on it.

At first he worked on his own creative projects and posted them online. It wasn't long before people started calling to hire Johnson for freelance work, and then he took a full-time job with Pure. Still, Johnson says, he remains focused on learning all he can.

Johnson used CINEMA 4D's After Effects Exchange plug-in to create a 2D card

In addition to reading constantly, he shoots experimental videos, blogs and creates tutorials for MAXON. "It never ends," says Johnson, who recently did some visual effects for the True/False Film Fest in Columbia, Missouri. "I guess that's how you know you're in the right place, the right field."

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Article by Scott Strohmaier

Scott Strohmaier is a writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and son.

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