These scripts gave TANQ the opportunity to really work with light and color. By building each super as a neon sign, and making them feel like they are physically in the scene, TANQ was able to transform the scripts into something unique, and give the agency and the client much more than they expected.
While pitching for the job, director Rick Knief (Untitled) and TANQ’s Alex Catchpoole decided on the idea that each sign should cast light into the scene, illuminating the talent and the environment as it flickers on. This idea required some practical lighting effects on the set, and TANQ worked in pre-production with Rick to map out the locations of the signs in each shot. This work followed through to on-set shoot supervision to ensure that the practical lights matched the positions of the digital signs.
Another challenge was the physical dimensions of the studio. The scripts really called for a huge, cavernous space through which the narrator strolls, turning on each light as she passes it. However, the extremely tight turnaround for the shoot necessitated using a sound stage with very limited space. “All the sense of depth and space had to be created in Flame,” says Alex. “By digitally extending the set and replacing the studio background we achieved a much grander scale for the shots, and it really helps the feel of the spot.”
TANQ’s Jay Sienkwicz led the team in the creation of the dozen or so neon signs required for these Optimum spots. To get a feel for the construction of real neon signs, the team studied hundreds of reference photographs, but found that the streets of Manhattan offered the best examples of different types of neon. “We were able to walk around the nieghborhood and within a couple of blocks find examples of neon that we liked,” said Jay. “We could check out how the light played off the buildings and see how the different styles of signs worked. That really helped shape the design.”
With references from classic Vegas neon right through to modern LED signage TANQ hand crafted each sign for the commercial. Jay designed the signs in Illustrator and then they were customized to the shots in Photoshop, with final compositing done in Flame.
TANQ’s work also included greenscreen compositing, rotoscoping, set extensions and digital background replacement.