Carbon keenly accepted the offer of directing the Chicago AICP Sponsor Reel for the 2018 AICP Show. We immediately took the opportunity to take our cameras out onto the streets (and into the air) for a cinematic scope and a spectacular VFX homage to our great city.
We wanted our film to speak specifically to the Chicago AICP crowd by showcasing our beautiful skyline, the iconic architecture, as well as the spaces only the locals might recognize. In reference to our role in the industry, Carbon’s CD, Liam Chapple, chose to fill these spaces with nesting, sentient screens, awakening, gathering, communicating and swarming throughout the city. Naturally.
Liam and our studio team filmed at night around the city, between shifts at work, with Director of Photography Kyle Pahlow, flying in from LA to help out. Shots were taken from rooftops, parking lots, in the middle of busy streets, and hanging from open car windows as we raced around the underbelly of the city. We truly went “above and beyond” with this live action shoot, by chartering a helicopter to capture the aerial scenes ourselves.
Our CGI team were able to utilize all the techniques and skills we apply to commercial films throughout the year, especially the complex Houdini flocking systems used to drive the swarms of screens around the buildings and into the sky. Our Maya-Houdini-Nuke-Baselight pipeline allowed us to weave 30 complex animation/VFX shots around other projects in the studio at the time.
The blank-page creative brief was a wonderful opportunity to lean into our own favorite references and styles. The red and black color palette, the inclusion of CRT screens, and the moody electro track, are all little nods to a range of influences including Ghostbusters, Akira, Stranger Things, 80’s Spielberg and even (possibly unintentionally) Poltergeist.