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Among the athletes shot performing in front of a greenscreen were ice skater Michelle Kwan, the women’s hockey team, short track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, and downhill skier Daron Rahlves.In each vignette, the athlete’s environment changes: an avalanche follows the hockey team, flames follow the speed skater and ice ring circle the figure skater – all suggesting that these competitors have powers beyond that of mere mortals.
"Designing photo realistic computer generated weather effects and environments are always challenging tasks," says Ring of Fire VFX/CG supervisor Greg Anderson. "In this case, our challenge was compounded by the fact that each athlete had to affect the environment in a completely stylized way that mimicked real world phenomena, but had a look that was completely unique for the world we created.”
According to Anderson, Maya, Mental Ray and Real Flow were used for the 3D effects, with all of the applications running on PCs. Photoshop, After Effects, Combustion and Inferno were used for creating matte paintings and for compositing.
The Ring of Fire visual effects team included creative director/on-set supervisor Jerry Spivack, executive producer John Myers, CG supervisor/on-set supervisor Greg Anderson, lead VFX producer Casey Conroy, associate VFX producer Feza Akcasu, and Inferno artists John Ciampa, Thomas Downs, Paul Geiger, Eric Bruno, Ali Laventhol and Mark Robben.Dann Tarmy served as lead CG artist. Additional digital artists included Loren Klein, Andy Tamandl, David Rindner, Marcel Hemingway, Bill Ball and David Summers.
John Roden provided After Effects compositing and Edward Black used Combustion.Seth Peterson and Andrey Pavlovskiy handled tracking using a combination of SynthEyes and Boujou. John Ciampa and Thomas Downs performed the online.
NBC Magic Room editor Gus Vouniozos cut :30 and :60 versions of the spot. Sonic Fuel provided the music with Gerard K. Marino, Tim Wynn and Christopher Lennertz composing.