AFX Creative adds VFX to GM’s Dr. Evil Super Bowl spot

Evil
(Courtesy AFX)

The villainous mastermind with the indelible iron pinkie and cheeky smirk returns in General Motors’ Super Bowl LVI campaign, which brings the infamous Dr. Evil from the classic Austin Powers films “back for good.”

To help the automaker herald the return of actor/comedian Mike Myers’ iconic series and character after two decades during the biggest TV event of the year, multidisciplinary content creation studio AFX Creative has joined forces with agency McCann Detroit to weave a comedic, visual effects-driven narrative that spotlights GM’s line of electric cars and eco-conscious focus.

The auto giant’s Super Bowl effort, which reunites Myers with his Austin Powers co-stars including Rob Lowe (as “Young Number Two”) and Seth Green (“Scott Evil”), provided AFX Creative with an ideal platform to showcase its distinctive VFX capabilities and ingenuity. Watch below:


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According to AFX Executive Producer Nicole Fina, the studio’s input actually increased as the production went on, conveying just how crucial AFX’s role became during the creative process. “This campaign started off with select VFX needs and grew to include VFX in every single shot,” she says.

Fina adds, “We created the floor, the ceiling, a fleet of CG cars, CG stairs, animating robots, tricked-out walls, multi-leveled floors, backgrounds and so much more. I loved that AFX was able to showcase all sides of our post-production prowess on this campaign, from on-set supervision and VFX to final color and finishing.”

With the color, in particular, GM’s desire to both pay homage to Austin Powers while also emphasizing the seriousness of tackling climate gave AFX Colorist Derek Hansen plenty of inspiration and room to ply his craft. “We wanted to hold in tension the forbidding feeling of Dr. Evil’s lair and the warm lightheartedness of Mike Myers’ comedic genius,” he says. “In the end, what we came up with was a really beautiful contrast between the warm sun, setting below the skyline, and the cool lair interior.”

For AFX Creative Director Chris Noellert, meanwhile, GM’s Austin Powers revival highlights the profound impact visual effects can have in driving the storytelling of a campaign, especially one filled with so many intricate details, hijinks, and moving parts. “First and foremost, this is a comedy piece, [but] we still manage to traverse the full gamut of visual effects,” he says.

“We’ve got CG cars and helicopters, shark-mechs, F-bombs, and friggin’ lasers. We created Dr. Evil’s lair and crafted a focus group testing room complete with collapsable walls and rotating TVs all out of nothing. In the end, even though the pixels we spun for this spot are sometimes making up 90% of what you see on screen, they are all still only in service to the brilliant comedic to-and-fro playing out between Mike Meyers and the rest of the cast. We’re in a supporting role, but it’s nice that we do get a few stand-out moments like Baby-Me and the weapons in the lair. Even then, it’s still all about the laughs,” shares Noellert.

The Super Bowl spot is another successful collaboration between AFX, McCann, and General Motors, building on a history of work on past GM campaigns, including last year’s “Everybody In” campaign, which marked GM’s efforts to accelerate mass adoption of electric vehicles and realize its vision of a zero-emission future.

Noellert says that like most AFX collaborations, the process for this Evil campaign was fluid, and everyone from the brand and talent on down was enthused about the ideas and their potential. “The agency did a great job of ingesting a massive amount of feedback from everyone at GM to Mike Myers to their own internal creative team and molding all of that input into a creative fire-hose,” he recalls. “Any given day, there would be something new to discuss—some nugget of crazy-Dr. Evil-ness to explore, and in that way, I really feel like McCann saw us as their partners in crime. We would sketch and spitball and render and refine. It’s exhausting and rewarding all at once, and in the end, you’re left with this amazing feeling of having not only crafted a spot but of having really left it all out there.”

AFX Creative’s latest, high-profile work for GM continues to reinforce the studio’s all-encompassing, world-class suite of capabilities from VFX, design, finishing, and color, which have been on full display through a variety of campaigns for top-tier brands including Hyundai, Beats, Sonos, Amazon Music, Lexus, Toyota, NBC, and recently, Facebook/Meta.

Regardless of the project, though, AFX Visual Effects Supervisor Thomas Connors acknowledges the creative and logistical challenges that come with each to achieve the end result. “A single commercial consists of multiple shots that are composed of a variety of elements,” he says. “The key is knowing how to manage the project in a manner that maximizes efficiency by understanding your team skills and executing the project in the time allowed. Often in this process, the client expects their product to appear authentic to the human eye when actually it is a photoreal representation. The process of photorealism is time-consuming and requires additional planning; however, the results are absolutely stunning.”

For AFX EP Fina, campaigns like GM’s Super Bowl work captures the essence of their personalized approach to every piece of work – Super Bowl spot or otherwise. “[We have] an unwavering commitment to get the best work out there for our clients with a name and face they can trust and people on the ground who are accountable,” she states. “Every one of us is committed to the success of a project when it comes in the door, whatever the project may be. Our jobs don’t get lost in a sea of people and management who aren’t invested in the success of the project. We are all artists at heart, and the work shows it.”


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One can say for such an “Evil” spot, AFX was very good.

CREDITS:

CLIENT: General Motors

  • Global Chief Marketing Officer: Deborah Wahl
  • Director, Brand Experience, GM Global Brand Marketing: Megan Stooke
  • Branded Entertainment Manager: Sarah Schrode
  • GM Brand Marketing Manager: Suzanne Hinz 
  • GM Brand Assistant Marketing Manager: Amanda Reuss
  • GM Lead Counsel, Sales and Marketing: Frank Hamidi

AGENCY: McCann Detroit

  • Co-Chief Creative Officer: Chuck Meehan
  • Co-Chief Creative Officer: Brad Emmett
  • Group Creative Director: Rob Legato
  • Associate Creative Director: Michelle Musallam
  • Associate Creative Director: Nick Marine
  • Executive Integrated Producer: Hafeez Saheed
  • GM Global Business Lead & Chief Executive Officer Commonwealth: Grant Theron
  • EVP, Executive Account Director: Krysty Sagnia
  • Global Head of Strategy and Research: Diana Ceausu 
  • VP, Account Director: Jason Dale
  • Account Supervisor: Amanda Cousino
  • Senior Account Executive: Randi Tate 
  • Associate Director, Business Affairs: Stacy Swann 
  • Manager, Business Affairs: Deb Sliva
  • VP, Broadcast Traffic Manager: Cynthia Noyes
  • Senior Talent Manager: Paula Price
  • Social Agency: Weber Shandwick 
  • EVP, Client Experience: Steve Janisse
  • EVP, Integrated Media Strategy: Brad Burke 
  • VP, Platform Strategy: Benjamin Klein 
  • Group Creative Director: Tony Kause
  • Sr. Art Director: Tim Rocklage 
  • Copywriter: Anna Jacobs 
  • Senior Assoc. Project Management: Lama El-Sebai
  • VP, Client Experience: Shenetta Johnson 
  • Jr. Assoc., Client Experience: Brittany Woods

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Bootleg Films UK

  • Director: Tim Kirkby
  • Cinematographer: Giles Nuttgens
  • Executive Producer: Greg Jordan
  • Line Producer: Ira Brooks 

USA Production SUPPORT: Rocket Film 

  • Managing Director: Sara Eolin
  • EP/Head of Production: Marla Whittaker

EDIT: Cosmo Street  

  • Editor: Tom Scherma
  • Digital and Social Content Editor: Andrew Corrales
  • Executive Producer: Yvette Cobarrubius
  • Head of Production: Marie Mangahas
  • Producer: Yole Barrera

VISUAL FX: AFX Creative  

  • Creative Director/2D Supervisor: Chris Noellert
  • VFX Supervisor/3D Lead: Tom Connors
  • Composite Supervisor: Felix Thedeby
  • Senior Producer: Alex Michael
  • Production Coordinator: Giulia Rocca
  • Head of Production: Esther Minitser
  • Executive Producer: Nicole Fina
  • Managing Director: Mark Leiss

COLOR: AFX Creative  

  • Colorist: Derek Hansen
  • Assistant Colorist: Zachary Hetlage
  • Color Producer: Jessica Amburgey

MUSIC: George S. Clinton

  • “Opening Title” from AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY 
  • Music by George S. Clinton 
  • Courtesy of New Line Productions, Inc. 

MUSIC AND SOUND DESIGN: JSM Music

  • CEO/CCO: Joel Simon
  • VP/Executive Producer: Jeff Fiorello
  • Senior Producer: Norm Felker
  • Producer: Andrew Manning
  • Producer: Sharon Cha
  • Composer: Seamus Kilmartin
  • Composer: Cecil Campanero
  • Sound Designer: Nathan Kil

STOCK MUSIC: BMG Production Music 

AUDIO MIX AND SOUND DESIGN: Eleven Sound  

  • Mixer/Sound Designer: Jeff Payne
  • Assistant Mixer: Andrew Smith
  • Executive Producer: Melissa Elston
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