Behind the Scenes – Hammer in Space 2020 Ad!
You’ve entered “The Hammer’s” exclusive Behind the Scenes page for this year’s 2020 “Hammer in Space” Super Bowl Commercial, with Darryl Isaacs. A lot went into this year’s production and we are so excited to share some little-known facts and hilarious anecdotes with all you Hammer fans!
Robots! Corporate suits! Anti-gravity! Is there anything “The Hammer” can’t do? Buckle up! It’s going to be a crazy ride.
Visit The Hammer’s 2020 Super Bowl Page!
Click here to watch the Behind the Scenes video on our YouTube channel!
Q & A With Director and Producer Catherine Shreves, President of Image Video Solutions
What is the Origin of The Hammer story?
Darryl Isaacs has always been known for the creativity and sense of humor he brings to “The Hammer” advertisements. In 2017 he took it a step further and set his sights on the Super Bowl. What happened afterward was a viral snowball effect that garnered him over 18 million overall YouTube and Social Media views.
- Episode I (2017): “The Big Insurance Zombies” – Darryl Isaacs, The Hammer, took on Big Insurance Zombies in the epic Big Truck accident apocalypse.
- Episode II (2018): “The Dragon Lawyer” – The 2017 commercial was a huge hit, so Team Hammer took it up a few (hundred) notches with what became known as “The Dragon Lawyer” commercial, which was inspired by a medieval, winter zombie landscape.
- Episode III (2019): “The Superhero Lawyer” – Why make things easy and stick with one type of Superhero? Team Hammer went big and made him three different superheroes. In a timeless quest to make Big Insurance Companies Pay Up, The Hammer took the form of Medieval Hammer, Captain Hammer and Robo-Hammer!
- Episode IV (2020): “Hammer in Space” For 2020, Team Hammer knew there was only one way to make this year’s commercial out of this world: Take it to outer space! A mighty galactic battle brews between The Hammer and Big Insurance. Will justice prevail, once again?
There were about 4 total shoot days, but the pre-production process started almost 4 months before filming and continued until the first day of the shoot.
What is Involved With the Pre-Production Process?
A lot! Pre-production consist of everything including creative brainstorming, scripting, storyboarding, scheduling, shot lists, casting, hiring crew, measuring the talent, creating the costumes and selecting locations. And because this commercial is so visual effects heavy, our 3D modelers, riggers and animators had to get going on their end months before the shoot, given how long some of these characters take to create, animate, and render out.
The pre-production process is extremely important, and if everything isn’t planned properly, the quality of the shoot will suffer. Fortunately, we had an amazing team involved in pre-production, and we were ready to go once cameras started rolling.
Where was the location of the commercial shoot?
The set included a massive sound stage and 75-foot-long green screen, because there were so many complex backgrounds and visual effects involved in this commercial.
The Green Screen
The most challenging variable for Darryl and the actors was the green screen. They couldn’t see their background, and they had to interact with things like a cardboard box that would later become a walking, talking robot!
Shooting on a green screen allows us to put anything we want on the floor or the background. It is, however, an extremely time-consuming to do this in post-production, especially when there is a lot of camera movement. That’s why you’ll notice hundreds of “tracking markers” from the floor to 15 feet high and 75 feet across. These markers were meticulously measured and placed by a member of our VFX team days before the shoot.
If tracking markers aren’t applied correctly, our editors will have a difficult time placing our 3D animated models and actors into their designated backgrounds. Additionally, our VFX producers recorded all camera measurements before and after every shot. These are then used by the animators and editors during post-production.
Was that really Darryl in the space fight with the Big Insurance company villains?
In last year’s Superhero commercial, Darryl was actually flying in some of the scenes. It was a lot of work, and very physically challenging, especially given how many takes it requires to get the perfect shot. But Darryl pulled it off!
This year, because the stunts involved professional fight skills, Darryl did have a stunt double for the scene in which he kicks some serious insurance agent butt! The other actors in the fight scene are also professional stuntmen. Darryl is in all other parts of the commercial, as well as the stunt fight shot right before and after the space battle.
What went into doing all of those stunts?
A lot of prep, and a lot of safety considerations. Our stunt team of 6 strong, experienced members spent weeks preparing the system and our stunt coordinators were there to make sure everyone was properly trained and prepared before beginning a stunt.
We had several insurance agents who had to fly into the air on a system designed by our stunt rigger. This was done using custom climbing sutra jerk vest, a little bit of tech-12 line, some pulley systems, a large condor, and a stunt team that always puts safety first while making the actors comfortable looking their best. The stuntmen in the fight scene are not just professional stuntmen. Many have special training for intense fight sequences.
Our female lead, who is not a professional stunt woman, was also elevated on wires and did a fantastic job. She had our incredible stunt team by her side and taught her the ropes (or the wires in this case!) so she could safely pull off being elevated into the air by the evil insurance villain. We actually asked her if she wanted a stunt double, but she was so excited to be able to do this type of stunt, she was all in and pulled in off like a pro!
Where did all of the different costumes come from?
One of the most important crew members for this year’s commercial was definitely our wardrobe designer, Jillian, and her incredible team. Jillian was also responsible for the amazing costumes in last year’s Superhero commercial and the 2018 medieval Super Bowl commercial. She has about 30 years of experience in film and television. Many of the costumes had to be hand-stitched, so Jillian and her team worked diligently to make the costumes authentic and visually stunning.
Months before the shoot, the wardrobe department met with the Directors and Producers to review storyboards and discuss the overall costume vision.
What about the props and the set?
The spaceship was one of the physical items on set and it included a “hammer” throttle, dashboard, and spaceship seat (equipped with a seat belt of course)! Hammer loved navigating a real spaceship, especially since it had his signature hammer—a good production is all about the details! Our set builder also built a large platform from which you’ll see stuntmen getting thrown and elevated.
Other props included the Big Insurance suitcases, and hilarious space-age black ties (which wardrobe provided). Darryl’s favorite prop this year, by far, was his hammer—a huge (very heavy) electronic space-age hammer that lights up and, as you’ll see in the commercial, is a critical tool that helps him stand up against Big Insurance!
How long does the editing process take?
Some of the post-production work started months before the shoot— including the creation of some of the ships and backgrounds. The actual “edit” of the commercial started right after the shoot was over in October and will continue until the week of the Super Bowl when we send over the first cut for Darryl and his team to review. It took several animators a lot of sleepless nights to pull off all of the VFX work. Our main software program we use is Cinema 4D, along with After Effects and Blender.
And for some of the really heavy, complex animations we could never have had the shots rendered in time were it not for our render farm in France. So, while our animators are primarily working on this commercial in America, France is usually the 2nd to last stop for a lot of our shots, with the final destination being our server!
Where did you find the talent?
We cast all of our talent at Image Video Solutions and had most of the principal actors come to our office to audition in person. We work with a number of great local and national agencies who submitted some incredible talent. In the end, our cast was incredible, and we are so grateful for everyone who participated this year!
Tools of the Trade
Like last year, we shot this year’s commercial using only RED cameras (our hands down favorite)! Our G&E team made sure every shot was lit to perfection and there were a lot of different (and often challenging) lighting setups over the week that had to be perfect to ensure that our animators and editors had each shot lit properly for the environment in which they needed to be placed.
Cast and Crew: It took a Galactic Army!
Cast: We had an incredible cast this year that included an incredible female lead, Matthew Shurley (who has made an appearance in the past 3 Super Bowl commercials) our evil insurance agent, an skilled stunt team, our must-have horse in every Super Bowl commercial, and numerous other actors.
Crew: Image Video Solutions, the production company that has done all of Darryl’s commercials (including Super Bowl) for the past 4 years, took on The Hammer Super Bowl Commercial challenge once again! It took a well-oiled machine to pull off this year’s shoot and editing. A special thanks goes to the Director, Executive Producer, Director of Photography, Camera Operators, Producers, Costume designers, Art Department, Stunt Team, Visual Effects team, Makeup Artists, Lighting and Grip team, Production Assistants, Marketing Team and the Catering and Craft Services Department that kept us all well fed during the week—We are so grateful for our entire crew!
Fun Facts about the 2020 Super Bowl Commercial
Image Video Solutions began post-production work even before the shoot began! That’s because it took a lot of effort to create the background and some of the ships.
Not everything was CGI! Our set builder created a massive, realistic spaceship for The Hammer, along with a realistic “hammer” throttle.
Our stunt team has worked in some pretty big productions! The actors in the fight scene are all trained professionals, some of whom you may have even seen in some of your favorite movies on the big screen!
Visit our 2020 Super Bowl “Hammer in Space” Commercial Page
Visit our 2020 lawyer Super Bowl page for more information about Darryl’s latest commercial, as well as an opportunity to win “The Hammer Sidekick Experience!”
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