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a52's artists help workers help themselves for CareerBuilder.com

Visual effects design company a52 (www.a52.com) contributed its visual effects expertise to two CareerBuilder.com spots from advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy and The Directors Bureau director Mike Mills which debuted on ESPN's SportsCenter following this year's broadcast of Super Bowl XLII.

"a52 and RPS were meticulous with all the technical details, which allowed us to focus on the performances, script, and art direction," said Wieden+Kennedy copywriter Jason Bagley. "The whole process was very smooth and we couldn't be happier with how the effects turned out."

Each of the humorous spots uses a similar approach to show a worker reassessing his career situation. In "Self-Help Yourself," a man receives some pointed job-seeking counsel from himself appearing as his own wife and co-workers. In "Help You Help You," a man walks into a shop where he confronts himself, picks himself up and carries himself out the door.

For the project, a52's VFX supervisor Pat Murphy explained that he and his colleagues from a52 and editorial company Rock Paper Scissors worked very closely with Mills and the agency right from the start. "Through initial meetings and planning, we broke down each scene," he began. "Therefore, before we even started shooting, we knew the methodology behind each shot. This allowed Mike the freedom to shoot comfortably and get great performances from the actors, while covering all of our bases technically. When it was our turn to do the effects, whether it was split-screen or head replacement, we were well prepared and could basically go through it step-by-step."

For the scenes where the actor in "Self-Help Yourself" physically interacts with another version of himself, Mills and DP Carl Nilsson shot two plates - one with the hero and a body double, and then a second plate where the actor appears in new makeup, wardrobe and/or prosthetics (courtesy of Jim
Hensen's Creature Shop).

Capturing the right elements to create the main illusion in "Help You Help You" required a slightly different approach, as a52 VFX artist Tim Bird explained. "The principal actor lifted a body double on the set, then they changed places and repeated the move against blue screen," he said. "We removed the body double's head from the hero take using a clean plate, re-created the shadows on the wall, and then tracked in the hero's head from the blue screen pass. The toughest part was actually removing the harness used to help in the lifting...and tracking-in pieces of his sweater onto his back to cover it up."

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