Back in the day, when I was working for a visual effects company called Digital Domain, I was lucky enough to be part of an amazing team led by Director/VFX Supervisor Marc Dominic Rienzo. A few of our in-house productions were sports themed- specifically, for the New York Mets (though plans were in place for other teams and sports). The above animation, a futuristic baseball movie called Heads-Up Display, was created by this tightly-knit team and is entirely CG. In-jokes and easter eggs abound – most of which is invisible in the renders.
Absolutely amazing attention to detail was applied with a great deal of fun. There was a conscious effort to not only infuse the world with scifi upgrades and references, but also retain the feel and tradition of the tactile history of Major League Baseball. How would Queens, NY look in the future? Why couldn’t the umpire be a robot? And the baseball players are supplied all the stats and readouts their helmets can muster up.
Check out the breakdown:
Those with quick eyes may see everyone in the stands is dressed up in costumes ranging from Star Wars to Battlestar Gallactica. All the outfield advertisements are for invented companies named after us artists (I think I’m Rinaldi Gloves?) The catcher’s antennae is lifted straight from Boba Fett – a favorite of Marc’s. The opposing team is the Philadelphia Phillies if you can catch the logo on the foot of the base-stealer. Why are there wires on the shoulders of the catcher? Why is there armor on the baseball mitts? Simple: because it’s fun!
The Ball Unleashed
In our second animation, the daylight allows us a better look at the stadium and the surrounding city. The massive jumbotrons shown in the opening shot always reminded me of BladeRunner, and though the pavement-bound traffic is heavy, a few airborne police cars litter the sky. The Mets are back pitching again, and are about to give the Phillies one heckuva heater. Among other things, my good friend Keith and I worked on the helmet HUD animations – everything in the pitcher’s helmet has meaning. A well-timed pause will show the pitcher’s throwing glove is made up of overloading circuits ready to give a little extra hot sauce to the pitch (my first experience with Maya nParticles!).
On a side note, our VFX Digital Domain team was additionally honored with a Visual Effects Society Award Nomination in the catagory of Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project.
Amazin’ is a nostalgic visual homage celebrating the New York Mets World Series history at Shea Stadium (now Citi Field). A mix of archival photography and visual effects trickery brings now-demolished Shea Stadium back to life and allows fans to revisit memories of the Mets 1969 and 1986 World Series Championships. This was actually the first animation this specific team tackled, not counting The Chicken Show (for more on that, check out The Legend of Tembo)! This animation and shoot was a lot of fun – everyone in the greenscreen elements is of course us again, shot over and over at a tiny studio at Indian River State College.
We were also lucky enough to be honored again with another VES Awards Nomination for Amazin’. The matte painting of Flushing, NY was done by ace matte painter Alex Nice – check out his work if you get a chance. I spent many long hours modeling old Shea Stadium, and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.
You may work on a lot of special projects in your career, but I think what really sets the gems apart is not only the quality of the result, but the incredible people I had the chance to work with. I hope everyone gets the chance to have as much fun as I did on these animations!
Breakdowns are fun – check this one out:
If you love 3D modeling as much as I do, check out this version of Heads-Up Display in all wireframe/ao mode:
Thanks for watching! Ciao!