October 14, 2005


"Network Blues" shows two friends meeting up outside a sports stadium. The non-Verizon user complains that the other is late, but the young man, who uses Verizon, says he sent a text message to let him know. Having not received it, the non-Verizon user turns to his geeky, small network support staff and expresses his frustration. Behind the Verizon user viewers see a massive staff, all there to support their subscribers.

The studio had to create the large Verizon support staff from just 200 extras. Charlex also created the helicopter, towers and trucks that are mixed in with the crowd. The commercial, which began airing in early October, ends with the tag, "It's the Network."

Charlex used a combination of Flame, Smoke, Maya, Photoshop, Massive, MentalRay, and Shake to pull off the effects.

"VFX supervisor Eric Swenson, lead Flame artist Greg Oyen and I went to each location and took detailed measurements, which we used to roughly recreate the environment in Maya," says animation supervisor Tony Tabtong. "Once in the computer, we could layout the scene with the director wherever he happened to be at the time, off-set, and at his convenience. This included positioning the whereabouts of the camera, lensing, crowd and truck placement, green screen setups, and even how the shadows of the location would play at any particular time of the day."

"We worked hand in hand with the creatives from McCann on the composition and movement of the people, static objects and vehicles in each shot to tell the story and used a combination of techniques to integrate the elements and archive a realistic end product," adds lead effects TD Bill Watral. "The trucks and other vehicles were created in 3D and composited into the plates. Lead Flame artists Greg Oyen and Philana Dias composited live action shots of extras to create one giant crowd. The exception to this was the big wide shot in the end were we see 10,000-plus people walking down the street following the customer. This was achieved using Massive."

Jesse Newman and Greg Cutler also handled Flame work. Keith McCabe supervised CG. Alex Weil was executive creative director.