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Make History

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Multi-disciplinary creative agency Mistress recently tapped award-winning VFX company Digital Domain and its commercial production company, Mothership, to help produce a cinematic spot for the highly anticipated release of Ubisoft’s historical action-adventure video game, Assassin’s Creed Unity. Directed by Digital Domain/Mothership Director Neil Huxley, “Make History” seamlessly integrates the game's Parisian backdrop with original scenes, live-action characters, and CG doubles.

Featuring masterful VFX, the epic trailer adroitly introduces Assassin’s Creed Unity's new cooperative multiplayer feature, as live-action gamers fantastically converge with a painterly stylization of the game's French Revolution setting.

To view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KF54Wf2s8PQ

“Mistress’ concept was equally artful and cinematic, which really inspired us to create something unique in the commercial-making sphere using the same caliber of VFX we apply to the feature film world,” remarks Neil Huxley.

“Make History” was shot over two days with four units at a Los Angeles sound stage. Cinematographer Ross Emery (The Wolverine) lensed all of the live-action, including 25 extras in full period costumes before Digital Domain transformed them into hundreds of unique CG characters.

Digital Domain created the realistic movement of the gamers by shooting plates against green screen and deploying stunt men in green suits -- “green ninjas” -- who lifted the actors in their chairs and moved them realistically.

“It was an unbelievably successful and efficient shoot, which is a tribute to our crew across the board,” says Huxley. “Directors usually step away at this point, but the benefit of Digital Domain and Mothership is: I get to see everything through to the end with VFX and post.”

Over a five-week postproduction schedule, Digital Domain VFX Supervisor Janelle Croshaw (Her) rendered the spot’s movie-like environment utilizing her team’s feature film pipeline. Ubisoft provided myriad game assets which were integrated into the stylized CG palette.

Huxley and his team worked closely with Mistress to incorporate the finer details of the game and its storyline, such as signature character moves, weapons, and gameplay features.

“Visually capturing all of the story beats that Mistress wanted us to hit on in essentially 38 seconds was a challenge, but we pulled it off,” says Huxley. “We needed a style to seamlessly transition between all these different moments, which we dialed in by varying the editorial pacing.”

For the trailer’s culminating fight scene, which dramatically depicts Arno, his Brotherhood of the Assassin’s brethren and four gamers descending upon Robespierre as executioner, Digital Domain built an authentic, life-sized guillotine for the scene. The template for the climactic shot was a sketch that Mistress provided. Rembrandt-like lighting of the scene's cityscape was based on Croshaw’s own HDR reference photos of Notre Dame and Emery’s lighting on green screen.

“We composed and framed each CG shot like a classical painting that could stand on its own,” concludes Huxley. “The big question going in was, ‘how are we going to best blend the CG and the live-action?' The period of the game inspired the resulting aesthetic from the outset. Atmospherics and smoke were important blending elements, and the color-grade beautifully emulates the period, giving the film a neoclassical feel. It was a conscious effort by all involved to provide a style that is faithful to the brand.”

Credits: Assassin’s Creed Unity “Make History”

First Air Date: Nov. 7, 2014

Agency: Mistress

Partner/Creative Director: Scott Harris
Associate Creative Director: Ben Beale
Associate Creative Director: Rory Forrest
Senior Producer: Kay Lynn Dutcher
Grand Director: Jeremiah Murlless

Production Company: Mothership Media, Inc.

Director: Neil Huxley
President: Rich Flier
Executive Producer: Scott Gemmell
Line Producer: Justin Si Diener

Animation & Visual Effects by: Digital Domain, 3.0

President: Rich Flier
Executive Producer: Scott Gemmell
VFX Supervisor: Janelle Croshaw
VFX Senior Producer: Carla Attanasio
CG Supervisor: William "Lee" Carlton
Animation Director: Steve Preeg
Matte Painter: Jonathan Green
Compositing Supervisor: Dan Akers
Digital Artist: Gideon Vandegrift
Digital Artist: David Liu
Digital Artist: Daisuke Nagae
Animation Lead: Benjamin Cinelli
Production Designer: Abigail Potter

Music Company: Robot Repair

Sound Design/Final Mix: 740 Sound Design
Sound Designer/Final Mixer: Rommel Molina

About Ubisoft
Ubisoft is a leading creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, with a rich portfolio of world-renowned brands, including Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance, Tom Clancy’s video game series, Rayman, Far Cry and Watch Dogs. The teams throughout Ubisoft’s worldwide network of studios and business offices are committed to delivering original and memorable gaming experiences across all popular platforms, including consoles, mobile phones, tablets and PCs. For the 2013–14 fiscal year Ubisoft generated sales of €1,007 million. To learn more, please visit www.ubisoftgroup.com.

© 2014 Ubisoft Entertainment. All Rights Reserved. Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft, and the Ubisoft logo are trademarks of Ubisoft Entertainment in the US and/or other countries.

About Mistress
Based in Los Angeles, Mistress is an internationally-awarded creative agency, a social agency, a digital agency, and a technology company that uses each of these disciplines to create compelling connections and interactions with the young and influential around targeted moments of people’s lives. The results are integrated brand campaigns that include worldwide record-setting activations, social movements, online societies, influencer campaigns and ads-as-earned-media-stunts. Current clients include NOS Energy Drink, Brown-Forman, PayPal, SOL REPUBLIC and Ubisoft. www.mistresscreative.com

About Digital Domain
Founded in 1993, Digital Domain has delivered innovative visuals for more than 100 movies including “Iron Man 3,” the “Transformers” series, and “Titanic." Its artists have earned multiple Academy Awards® in the Visual Effects and Technical Award categories.

A creative force in advertising, Digital Domain has brought its artistry to hundreds of commercial, video game and music video productions. The company has been at the forefront of innovation for over two decades and pioneered the creation of internationally famous Virtual Performers including 2Pac and Teresa Teng. Digital Domain was also a co-producer on the recent feature film "Ender's Game."

From facilities in California and Vancouver, including its own state-of-the-art performance capture studio, Digital Domain continues a tradition of creating extraordinary imagery and productions for entertainment and advertising. Digital Domain is majority-owned by Hong Kong company Digital Domain Holdings Limited (HKSE: 547). www.digitaldomain.com

Last changed: Dec 14 2014 at 5:14 PM

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