May 1, 2007


Drive follows a diverse group of competitors participating in a cross-country road race - all hoping to win its $32 million prize. The open shows live action of cast members in photoreal, stylized CG vehicles.

The sequence was created by Picture Mill creative director William Lebeda and was art directed by Brad Berling. It begins with a rapid pan across the windshield of the Dodge Challenger, driven by cast members Nathan Fillion and Kristin Lehman, and then crosses to a mid-70's Firebird, occupied by Mercea Monroe and driver Riley Smith. 

The camera then swoops under the vehicle and pans up inside the Impala, driven by Kevin Alejandro and J.D. Pardo, who look out the window to reveal cast member Emma Stone in the back seat of her father's Taurus. The camera pans through the back window, turns over, around and into the large windshield of an LR3, driven by Rochelle Aytes and Taryn Manning. It then moves down to a spinning hubcap and transitions into the driver's seat of a minivan, occupied by Melanie Lynskey.

Finally, the view moves to the rear of the minivan, which sports a metallic Drive logo. The shot widens out and elevates, showing the cars speeding off under a freeway sign that reveals the names of executive producers Tim Minear and Ben Queen.

Art director Brad Berling estimates that only two seconds could be spent on each character.  "All these magical transitions were going to have to be very quick and the choreography very fast and expressive in order for this to work," he notes.

A huge emphasis was placed on previz, working out timings and camera moves for each shot, character and vehicle modeling, color design, texture mapping, and background element design. In addition, primitive shaded views of the characters were placed in the vehicle models for positioning purposes.

The Drive cast was assembled for a live action shoot, directed by Picture Mill's Lebeda. Seated in green screen chairs and shot in HD, each actor had to instantly communicate their character's attitude. A telescopic Technocrane was used during the shoot and camera moves were later fed into 2d3's Bijou for 3D match moving. Maya was used for animation.

The sequence took two months to produce. Additional Picture Mill credits included executive producer Ty Van Huisen; designer Ken Pelletier; 3D modeler/animators Bryan Thombs, Jon Block and Scott Signorel; 2D compositor Josh Novak; and producer Christina Hwang.