While the end results of Dart Frog’s projects are what grab the attention of clients and consumers, it’s their behind-the-scenes process that makes them a dominant force in the digital rendering and animation world. With the breadth of their team, experience with collaboration, and strong partnerships, Dart Frog has the tools and capabilities to deliver complex projects, like those that require combining CGI and live talent. See how they make it all happen below.
Before any animation, rendering, or filming is done, Dart Frog creates the concept for the spot. Storyboards are assembled, acting as strict guidelines moving forward. Having these in place before any production begins is imperative to ensure that each layer follows the story as it passes through the hands of different team members.
“Realism is essential for many projects so potential customers can see the product to scale and how it can be interacted with.”
-Saman Moayer, Chief Creative Officer
Creating a set in CGI isn’t as simple as throwing a few props together in a studio—it takes expertise in animation and rendering and a keen attention to detail. When creating the scene for the spot, every leaf in the landscaping, texture in the terrain, and detail in the decor needs to be rendered to the point of realism. And, when live talent is being thrown into the mix, there isn’t room for error. Dart Frog’s expert artists spend countless hours ensuring that, to the average consumer, the spot will seem like it was shot in a real environment.
“We have a great team with a variety of artists. We have people that can do CGI, people that can do videos and others that do compositing. We have some people that work well in specific parts of CGI like propping, lighting, and keyframing.”
-Saman Moayer, Chief Creative Officer
Rendering and animating the products allows Dart Frog and their clients to give customers an in-depth, 360-degree look at what they are offering. Integrating them in rendered environments also provides an opportunity for consumers to see how they can be used and interacted with and learn about some of the product's other benefits.
With the environment and products rendered and animated, it’s now time to start the process of adding live talent. One of the biggest challenges when filming on a green screen is figuring out the correct lighting and camera angles to ensure the actors mesh seamlessly with the virtual environment. Dart Frog takes the reins on set, positioning the lights, directing the actors, and filming.
“We have the storyboards and a rough layout of how the animation will look prior to the shooting day. So we were able to look at those and map out what angles we need to get for the camera and lighting for each shot.”
- Landon Holzwarth, 3D Artist
The actors often come in at different times throughout the shoot day, playing their respective roles out on the green screen. Using a technique known as virtual production, the team can see where the actors are “standing” in the rendered environment.
“Using software, we can bring up a live view of what the camera is seeing and how the cut out of the person on the green screen is placed in the virtual shot.”
- Derek Malone, Senior Artist and Technical Producer
Combining live talent with CGI is no easy task, and the process starts long before the actual meshing begins. In multi-layered projects like these, collaboration, communication, and organization are key. From how files are labeled to strictly following the storyboards and being in constant communication with everyone involved, Dart Frog follows their proven process to complete projects of this scale successfully.
“These are very technical projects, and one way to make that easier is automation. We have a lot of tools built previously that we were able to use, along with following strict rules for file naming, that helps bring everything together.”
- Pete Nunez, Creative Head
Check out how it all came together for two of Dart Frog's clients, Tuohy and Suncast.