Fathead Captures NFL Moments with Doug Witmer
Fathead, the sports memorabilia company, promotes the connection with NFL in two television commercials promoting life size wall graphics. In “Lens” Doug Witmer, a stone-faced sports photographer, gives us a serious interview on the toils of capturing the big, bold visual smack that brings our favorite players and teams into our homes. Intercut with the interview sequences are scenes of the photographer on the sidelines at an NFL game toting an oversized camera. Barely able to hold onto the cumbersome behemoth, he attempts to snap shots of the players, while commenting on how his ability to capture these moments is akin to an immortal super power.
In “Cooler” Witmer is back to business capturing more images of superstar NFL players. Proudly boasting that his skills are half-cat, half-ninja, we see our photographer stationed on the sidelines of a raucous Seattle Seahawks game. In a flash, the Seahawk’s Shaun Alexander streaks down the sidelines headed for the end zone. When a incredible last minute tackles sends several players careening into the sidelines, our ninja shutter bug is propelled into a drink cooler and under the weight of his tremendous camera, flops onto his back sending the table, several cups and cooler flying.
Fathead is a renowned brand name for wall graphics manufactured by Fathead Corporation. Fathead LLC is headquartered in Livonia, MI. The graphics are advertised as being made of durable vinyl which can be removed repeatedly without damaging walls. They are printed in high-definition, allowing for a simple 3D effect.
The Fathead Doug Witmer spots were developed at Wieden + Kennedy, NY by executive creative directors Kevin Proudfoot and Todd Waterbury, creative director Derek Barnes, art director Stuart Jennings, copywriter Charlie Gschwend, head of production Gary Krieg, and producer Dan Blaney.
Filming was shot by director Hank Perlman via Hungry Man with partner/executive producer Stephen Orent, executive producer/head of production Caroline Gibney, executive producer Kevin Byrne and producer Mino Jarjoura.
Post production and effects were developed at SUSPECT, New York, by VFX supervisor/Lead Flame artist Tim Crean, design director Hoon Chong, 3D artist Steve Burger, Flame artists Steve Koenig, Jaime Aguirre, executive producer Rob Appelblatt, producer Stefanie Bassett.
Tim Crean provides some of the background:
“Hank was extremely open to collaborating which made the entire process a lot of fun. It was cool to see him tackle the VFX space because he normally sticks to straight-up comedy. From the concept stages, we wanted our Fathead photographer to be part of the scene, not the focus of it. Since shooting a live NFL game wasn’t an option, we took the route of shooting green screen performance and integrating that with existing NFL archival footage. This required traveling to NFL films Headquarters in New Jersey with Hank and the agency. With the help of the NFL guys, we sifted through mountains of film in search of those perfect moments where our Fathead character could become part of the action.”
“We took great pains in matching every conceivable aspect of the NFL footage. We went as far as interviewing NFL cameramen to learn not only the usual camera attributes but seemingly innocuous details as the time of day. Matching the lighting was almost as important as nailing the film stock and the camera angles. The production even went as far as shooting additional people on green screen so the hero photographer would have something “real” to interact with. After painstakingly removing obstructing people and recreating clean backgrounds for our hero to be composited into, a few more crucial elements were added. Steam and breath were incorporated for winter season shots as well as rebuilding the lens of the prop camera in 3D. The camera prop was never meant to be seen in a close-up, but a spec can change at the last minute in our line of work. That’s what keeps it fun, and luckily for us, Flame has a great 3D tracker and projection tool now.”
Editorial work was done at PS 260, New York, by Maury Loeb, with assistant editor Jenna Warnecke and executive producer Zarina Mac.
Sound was designed by Marshall Grupp and mixed by Tom Jucarone at Sound Lounge Music and Sound Design, NY.