Nike Better World
You Want Yellow? We'll Give You Yellow.
You Want Yellow? We'll Give You Yellow.
Nike Better World
Nike Better World
Client: Nike Better World
What we did:

Project Description

50 Shades of Yellow.

Nike is all about innovation.  From the shoes they design, lightweight jackets they engineer, or the self-tying laces we tried to snag on ebay but were out bid by someone who was probably Richard Branson or something cause the bid was like 10,000 dollars and we were like “c’mon, give a brother a chance.” But we digress.

What we didn’t know is how innovative Nike is with the processes by which they’re helping the world – and COLORDRY is a big part of that push.  The process dyes fabric with no water at all.  It basically fuses motes of color pigment into the threads of the fabric to better results than normal dying.  So a yellow jersey is the most vibrant yellow jersey you’ve ever laid eyes on…  better product, better process, better world.

Wait, What the Hell is a Mote?

The guys at AKQA came up with this term for the particle of color pigment involved in the COLORDRY process.  Now, we have to be honest, at first we had no idea what they were talking about – completley thought it was a made up word.  Turns out it’s a real thing.

The mote had to feel like it contained a powerful cocktail of dry color.  The process involves a chalky pigment that is heat and pressure fused to the threads of the fabric.  It’s a pretty intense process.  We also knew that this would be the story about the mote – so they had to be interesting on a macro level. What we designed was a landscape of dry canyons mixed with vibrant crystals of color.  In the process, the motes would emplode under the pressue of the atmosphere, creating a dense package of color right before they impact with the fabric like a meteor shower of light.

Keeping the Narrative…Well…Dry

The basic narrative follows the process from the point of view of that single mote.  From the freefall into fabric, into the spread of brilliant color into the threads of the fabric.  Every step of the way the process had to feel dry, as if we’re throwing fine powder all over some dude’s white jersey.  It was also important to AKQA that we abstracted the process into something a bit more mysterious  – cause nothing’s more entertaining than throwing a spool of white fabric into a giant washing machine.

We looked to explosions of chalk as reference, and shot a few of our own to see how substances fracture, explode, and spread.  These became the basis of what became a CG particle heavy spot.

Before getting crazy with particles like this was some sort of CERN experiment we broke down the spot into a basic gray shaded previs to nail down timing, and rough composition of explosions.  Everything at this point is hand animated – we didn’t move into dynamics until everyone felt comfortable with the flow of the edit.  Moving into particle sims is kind of like moving into a house of cards – minus Kevin Spacey…  cause that would change this metaphor dramatically. Point is, edit gets locked before we play the sim card.

Got Two Tickets to the Sim Show Right Here.

Now don’t get us wrong, we were working on general structures of sims as we were creating the story arc of the spot.  We knew the basic elements we needed:  Dry, chalky explosions and trails in various forms and speeds.  Our particle team worked endlessly creating sim variations for us to layer into the final spot.

Terabytes of sims were created for all the shots within the spot.  We created variations of speed, size and turbulence to see what felt right, and what fit in with the scale of the spot.  Technically speaking, the mote is a tiny particle of pigment.  If we worked true to scale – the dynamic effects wouldn’t have been nearly as compelling.

Trails.  Like a comet of yellow pigment, each mote releases a little debris as it travels through the void.  What it creates is a trail of yellow dust.  Visualizing what this looks like as a common profile of a comet is one thing, but visualizing it from the POV of the mote is another.

Impacts.  Lots of things explode in this spot, in various ways.  Motes not only collide with the fabric they’re dying, but with each other mid fall.  To achieve the look of the mid air explosions, we actually had to layer multiple sims on top of each other.  Processing the initial impact, then re-siming those results with a more chalky, smoke like effect.

Cloth.  One thing we haven’t talked about yet is the cloth sims found throughout the spot.  Every impact sparks a dynamic reaction in the cloth.  From the initial impact, to the weightless CG Jersey that ends the spot.  Sims upon sims.

It’s tough to make a spot as dry as Brien’s sense of humor, but what we achieved comes pretty close.

12 terabytes of particle sims later – we crafted a spot that illustrates the ColorDry process in a way that makes dying fabric look as dramatic as a Michael Bay film.