Sure, anyone can take a picture with their Canon digital camera. But wouldn’t it be cool to capture what your eye sees?
Some guy on the internet (who seems to knows what he’s talking about) claims the human eye has 324 megapixels, an ISO of 800 in a dark environment and a focal length range of 17-22mm. However, since we can’t post images from our brains directly to Facebook, the next best thing is a camera.
It’s true. No one sees it like you. After watching “Canon – No One Sees It like You” several thousand times, I hunted down the awesome people responsible for creating such pixel-filled goodness.
“The concept, that Canon sees just like what the human eye sees, was quite a simple idea.” says Art Director, Brendan Savage. “Different scenarios play out in the reflections within the eye.”
For those of us who have tried to capture an iris blooming, or capture the eye in any way, you will appreciate this article. Brendan explains, “The eyes were shot separately, taking care not to get any specular reflections from lights or other surroundings.”
“Not all the reflections were composited,” explains director Rey Carlson. “One or two were shot wholly in camera. In some other instances, I captured parts of the reflection in camera, then other elements were added to complement.”
Shooting the eye-plates was just half the battle. Some of the reflections were added in post. I caught up with Flame artist, Urs Furrer, on how he helped capture such powerful moments using the eye as a canvas.
Interview with flame artist, Urs Furrer
What was it like to work on this spot?
I was so excited to finally see it out there. It was one of my favorite jobs that I’ve worked on in a long, long time.
I worked closely with the creatives from the agency at Leo Burnett Sydney, with the director Rey Carlson, and also with art director Brendan Savage. Brendan and I worked really closely together, from the post side of things. It was probably one of the most collaborative efforts I’ve ever worked on. Everyone was so hands on and into the concept. It had a feeling, you know? Everyone felt it was going to be something cool.
What was one of the biggest challenges?
When we were doing tests, before we went into production, it was pretty obvious that you had to shoot the reflections a certain way. The image wraps around the eye. If you shoot it with the wrong lens, or if it was too tight, it just wouldn’t work.
Also, we couldn’t shoot all of the reflections. Some of the reflections came from stock footage. The biggest challenge was making the stock footage work within that reflection of the eye.
When shooting the eye plates, did you have a reflection in mind or did you match it up in post?
On set, we had a real great video-split operator.
We would roll a couple of seconds of the eye plate, bring it up, and do a quick 50/50 mix on the spot. Then, we could say, “Yeah this works…” or “We need to adjust this…” Having the ability to quickly composite on set, gives you a good indication if it’s going to work. If it works at a basic level, then all you have to do is polish it and make it look real. It was also good for the clients to see it live on set.
The reflections really told the story.
You’re only seeing a fraction of the face. Yet, we have all these muscles and thousands of things going on there. It’s amazing how many emotions are displayed from a single eye.
Having the actors really in the zone sells it. The guys and Rey (the director) went to massive lengths to get some really cool reflections. For the shot of the guy watching the night sky, they wheeled in a Ute (an Australian pickup truck) in the middle of the Outback desert and had the actor lay on the hood of the car. They even had lights coming off the dashboard of the car.
It was little things like having enough practical lighting and incidental lighting on the face. For example, the shot of the Indian woman watching a funeral, he actually had kids running around on set with sparklers to get flickering light on the face. It’s stuff like that takes it that extra 10%. It was doing things like that that made all the difference. Huge hats off to Rey for going to those lengths. It was incredible.
What was it like working with Director, Rey Carlson?
Rey Carlson is an amazing director. He was shooting the plate of the old woman shedding a tear, with the baby’s reflection in her eye. It gave me goosebumps. There were so many moments on set, where I watched and I said, “Holy shit.” It actually made you feel something when you are on set. After seeing the final product, I still get those same feelings. It’s not often that happens on spots that you work on.
How important was it to have the post-productions guys on set?
For me, it was one of the more intense shoots I’ve been on. Not for technical reasons but for creative problem solving. You can fake a lot of stuff, but if you get an element in camera, then it’s great.
I was working with Rey Carlson (the director), Bob Humphreys (the DP) and the creatives from the agency and we’re watching what’s going on in the splits from the camera. You’re bouncing ideas like, “Why don’t we try this?” or “Why don’t we try that?” It was a really a good vibe on set.
Of course there’s always time pressure on set to get everything within a certain shoot day. We had several units running at the same time. Everyone was still open and receptive, even though we had a lot of stuff to get through.
I’m curious, did you ever plan to show more of the face and the surrounding scenes?
There were moments when we were supposed to see more and establishing wider shots. I’m so glad it ended up being what it is because it just works. You don’t lose anything by not seeing anything wider.
Describe the technical process as a Flame artist?
As a Flame artist/compositer, you have to try and make things look as real as possible. A lot of the time, you’ve got a plate and want to add a CG object. There shouldn’t be an argument on whether it looks real or not. This job, you still had that element where it had to look photo real but it also has to tell a story. It was a real artistic exercise and was really enjoyable.
There were a few things we had to do to make it look real like, adding displacement, data measurement and have the image roll off the edges of the iris – things like that. The rest was design driven. It’s very different from typical compositing which can get really technical.