In a new commercial from Team One Advertising in El Segundo, a Lexus LS 400 sedan appears to speed across a tundra, as icy cracks open behind it. Here is how Venice-based Sight Effects created the snowy illusion.
1. Photographers filmed the sedan zipping around the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, capturing mountains in the background and natural creases on the white ground.
2. Using the creases in the natural landscape as guides, digital animators built 3-D models of the icy cracks. Still working on computer, they digitally filled in the wire models by adding photographs of glaciers that had been shot in Canada.
3. The glaciers were then inserted into the live action footage. Snow was digitally added to mountain peaks, and clouds were added to the sky.
Team One producer Beth Hagen said that despite appearances, the ad isn't meant to imply the sedan can manuever on sheets of ice. "That would be dangerous," she said. "It's supposed to be a light dusting of snow."