Inspired by positive consumer feedback, DXL Men’s Apparel and their agency TAXI envisioned a campaign that would visualize how they’ve built each and every one of their stores with the specific needs of their customer - the big and tall male in search of brand name apparel - in mind. TAXI engaged Nice Shoes, a creative studio delivering problem solving solutions, to develop an efficient approach spanning the entire production process.
The Nice Shoes team took on full production and post-production responsibilities for the campaign, led by director/creative director Harry Dorrington, and supported by VFX supervisor Adrian Winter, CG director Andy Zazzera, creative editor Dana Bol, colorist Chris Ryan, and head of production Nancy Giandomenico.
“We start off with our hero, who’s in need of a fashion refresh and in an empty space. The DXL store, which is almost the co-star of the spot, then takes shape around him, shifting and filling with different outfits as he finds the right apparel for any occasion,” said Dorrington. “As the store is built up, we’re transitioning through the hero customer trying on different looks, all in the span of 30 seconds. We had to find a way of orchestrating and choreographing how the store would be built in a smooth, intriguing way.”
The team put forward a plan that involved constructing an idealized DXL store, which would be filmed using a combination of stop motion techniques and VFX. The actor would then be filmed separately, so that his performance could be captured without having to reset the complex set on every take. Nice Shoes recommended detailed previsualization, so that every shot would be fully imagined and approved prior to production.
Nice Shoes carefully planned out the VFX shots, including a hero shot of a mirror that rotates around the lead actor. Based on motion tests performed in the studio, the team was able to determine the order and structure of the live action shoot. The VFX team identified which elements would need to be fully realized in CG in order to pull off the complex moves, what would be shot practically, and what would be a hybrid of live action and CG. All of this preparatory work allowed for the team, led by Dorrington, to proceed confidently into the shoot, while leaving room for the best takes to be found in the edit.
With all of the movement fully visualized in pre production, the team was able to stick to a tight production schedule, constructing a custom DXL store and producing the entire live action shoot over three days. The store was built out prior to shoot, and then shot in reverse with stop motion techniques to later create the illusion of it coming together. The talent was then captured separately against a green screen, with the goal of all of the action coming together in post. VFX supervision was provided to ensure that the effects shots were tracked properly, as well as on set editing to provide the crew and clients with a preview of how these complex actions were coming together.
“To build the spot and make it look authentic, we literally built the store from the ground up,” says TAXI President David Jenkins, “Then tore it apart piece by piece. So what you’re seeing on screen is really the way we shot it.”
The piece all came together for the final cut, compositing and color grade with Dorrington and the team from TAXI overseeing the process at Nice Shoes’ studio. With the team having been a part of the pre-production and production stages, each artist came into the post process with a stronger sense of how to achieve their part of the project as well as how to best prepare deliverables for the rest of the team.
“By partnering with us from concept to completion, we were able to offer TAXI and DXL a guarantee that we could control the quality of the final product, and back it up with strong visuals at every stage of the process,” concluded Dorrington.
Client: DXL Men’s Apparel
Production and Post Production: Nice Shoes
Executive Producer: Angela Bowen
Director/Creative Director: Harry Dorrington
Head of Production: Nancy Giandomenico
VFX Supervisor: Adrian Winter
CG Director: Andy Zazzera
CG Lead: Alex Kline
Compositor: Michael Cozy
Designer/Animator: Yandong Dino Qiu
Editor: Dana Bol
Colorist: Chris Ryan
Live Action Producer: Brian Bennhoff