For those of you who have sported Air Jordan’s since Nike delivered the AJ1s in 1984, New York-based Tronic Studio has cooked up three online CG spots designed to make the latest version of the ballin’ sneakers inspired by the hoops legend simply irresistible. As part of the ongoing collaboration between Nike and Tronic, the studio has developed innovative animation to showcase the nothing-but-net flair of the Air Jordan XXs, hyped as the most advanced basketball shoe ever made.
In the segments, available for download at www.nike.com/jumpman23, we hear the hollow sound of dribbling, the swish of the net and the squeak of sneakers as photoreal AJXXs glide, pivot and jump easily across a reflective black floor with their forefoot flex channels, unique iridescent colorway and distinctive lace cover. The interactive spots allow the viewer to highlight specific features by clicking on the upper, toe box and lace icons to launch the Tronic animations showcasing the innovations packed into each of the shoe’s essential parts.
Creative director Jesse Seppi explains that to achieve the visuals for the AJXX segments, Tronic imported data captured from NBA players at Nike’s mo-cap studio in Portland, Oregon, and molded the sequences to generate just the right timing, moves and speed to create an action loop. The mo-cap data was imported into Autodesk’s 3ds max and Character Studio, following preparation using Kaydara software. Seppi notes, "Once we modeled the shoes in max in high detail, we could build up layers abstractly through a glass texture so there’s a lot of refraction of the components." The shoes and their layers were rendered in Sputterfish’s Brazil to pull off the photoreal quality.
Because the spots demanded extensive camera movement, Seppi linked the camera to the hip of a skeleton player, later hand animating the camera to tweak the view. Tronic developed a series of key frames of the on-court action with Character Studio’s bi-ped feature and then created toe/ankle bends and twists by applying max’s Physique modifier to the AJXX models built in max. Finally, they hid the player’s skeleton from the viewer so only the jumping and pivoting shoes remained on-screen. The lace covers’ intricate designs were applied to the highly reflective court floor using a texture map.
In past Nike endeavors, Tronic created the CG short film A Long Time Ago, following a man who tries to travel at the speed of light. The spot was completed for the Nike "Speed" campaign, and can be viewed on Tronic’s website www.tronicstudio.com.