Directed by Stefan Draht
3D Animation
3D Modeling
Brand Video
CG (Computer Graphics)
Live Action
Stage Filming
Photo Real Compositing
VFX/Visual Effects

Landmark Credit Union: Banking Made Easy

Cramer-Krasselt’s idea is simple and elegant. An idea that literally fits in the palm of your hand. Using a blend of live action and CG we helped tell the stories of how Landmark Credit Union helps customers to accomplish their goals. While the idea is simple, executing it to look effortless took quite a bit of planning, choreography, and… well… effort.

A Human Touch

The central idea that Cramer-Krasselt set out was one of ‘helping hands.’ How the hands of Landmark Credit Union would help make banking easy for their customers by interacting with and motivating various scenarios to tell the customer stories. In order to realize this idea it was important to really think about how the hands would interact with the world, create transitions between moments, and most importantly do all of that in a way that was achievable for an actor to perform on set.The motions needed to feel effortless and natural while performing actions that created moments of magic, but importantly not sleight of hand. The look of the world was also an important consideration.

Though the result feels quite straightforward there are actually more than a few considerations that go into a ‘matter of fact’ look. In order to reason through the framing, camera angle, lensing, and performances to figure out what was filmable and what looked right we began with a simplified tabletop setup in the studio. This allowed us to explore how an actor would need to position themselves and their hands relative to the camera while performing the various moves and the tone or look that different camera setups would impart. Our CD spent quite a while crouched beneath a DSLR pretending to move miniature objects around on a ping-pong table.

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Production, In Reverse

VFX work needs planning. The more that can be figured out ahead of time before shooting the smoother every step of the project will be. While this may feel a little constraining it actually just moves the creative thinking up front and allows the back end of the project to focus more about execution and nuance. Instead of ‘figuring it out in post’ we emphasized ‘figuring it out in previz.’ 

While this approach in some ways inverted the typical commercial process it created an opportunity to invite our client into the exploration process with us early in an effort to essentially ‘lock’ the edit before ever shooting a single frame on set.

By beginning the editorial process right away using previz material we were able to answer questions about timing, pacing, and even confirm the script length with CK. By getting to see their script against a moving picture early the agency creatives were able to adjust where needed and even begin thinking about ideal VO reads early on.

The raw material for these early edits took the form of lower fidelity 3D animations based on a combination of hand drawn storyboards and test shots filmed in the Sarofsky studio, playing out the more complex hand choreography. Having these pieces to work with was instrumental in figuring out the timings for pieces that would need to fit together precisely in the end and for testing out transitions that had just the right amount of magic while also working with the timing of the script.

Having these edits in hand before the shoot allowed us to be extremely efficient with filming and fit a lot of shots into two days of shooting. Directing the talent on set was aided immensely by the ability to show them the exact choreography and timing for their actions in any given shot and the stand-in objects that our propmaster was able to create to the specifications of our previz gave them something to really interact with.

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Assembling the Pieces

With the roadmap of the previsualizations and pre-shoot edits the post-production process was largely one of assembling the pieces. That’s not to say that it was an easy process but it was clear what needed to be done and what the steps were going to be. The creative decisions that happened at this phase were about those moments of delight and finding places for those fun details which make each vignette feel special.

Integrating the CG objects with the live action hands involved two important elements. First, each hand was carefully rotoscoped in order to isolate them from the background and from the practical stand-in objects with which they interacted on set. Second, 3D representations of each hand were constructed in a process called ‘rotomation’ whereby the footage captured by the primary camera and secondary, “witness” camera on set were synced and used to reconstruct the hands in 3D space. These 3D hands aren’t actually visible in the final composites but were instead used to understand how our CG objects needed to move relative to the hands and for creating realistic shadows from the hands on the CG objects and environment.

Final Touches

The final step in the process was Nolo’s color grading. Even though so much of this project was carefully constructed in the box, taking a final pass through with a colorist’s expert eye helped to glue everything together. Bringing out the perfect skin tone, ensuring that the blues all felt brand appropriate, and even making sure the grass was the right green were just some of those final touches.

Project Credits 
  • Executive Creative Director
    Erin Sarofsky
  • Executive Producer
    Steven Anderson
  • Creative Director
    Stefan Draht
  • Head of Production
    Joel Signer
  • Producer
    Andrew Rosenstein
  • Line Producer
    Patrick Fischer
  • Director of Photography
    Brian Schilling
  • Finishing & VFX Supervisor
    Cory Davis
  • Senior Editor
    Tom Pastorelle
  • Junior Editor
    Jesus Diaz
  • Assistant Editor
    Henry Smalstig
  • Technical Director
    Tanner Wickware
  • Animation & Compositing Lead
    Jon Gallo
  • Design, Animation & Compositing
    Travis Hawthorn
  • Anthony Palermo
  • Lirio Ramirez
  • Modeling
    Danesh Taraporevala
  • Animation & Compositing
    Craig Minchinton
  • Sean Skube
  • Storyboarding
    Brian Vincent Rhodes
  • Design
    Andrea Braga
  • Jake Thomas
  • Color
    Nolo Digital Film
  • Mike Matusek
  • Elliot Rudmann
Client Credits 
  • Client
    Landmark Credit Union
  • SVP, Marketing
    Jina Amara
  • President & CEO
    Jay Magulski
  • Chief Experience Officer
    Brian Melter
  • Director, Marketing Operations
    Jamie Kober
  • Advertising Agency
  • SVP, Executive Creative Director
    Todd Stone
  • SVP Group Creative Director / Art Director
    Jim Root
  • Associate Creative Director / Writer
    Sandy DerHovsepian
  • Executive Producer
    Brian Cooper
  • Senior Producer
    Craig Clark
  • Account Supervisor
    Taylor Kaine

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