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Method Studios Crashes Photoreal Train in AT&T Wild West Heist Spot

Studio provides elaborate VFX, including full CG derailment, previs, matte paintings and digital background replacements, for 90-second Western-themed “Train” commercial.

Method Studios was called on to deliver visual effects for the live-action portion of a new 90-second AT&T spot, “Train,” that tells the tale of a Wild West train heist. The commercial has two distinct parts: 50 seconds of gritty, dynamite-fueled live-action, with lots of bearded desperados, followed by 40 seconds of whimsical stop-motion. Director Dougal Wilson of Furlined tapped Method to produce visual effects for the live-action component, which included building a fully CG photoreal train derailment.

Method’s 20-person team was led by senior VFX supervisor Benjamin Walsh, who worked closely with Wilson to help conceptualize the spot’s Western environment and using previs, map out the flow of the train crash. Method artists tackled severe weather challenges in post, as each of the three shoot days in Nevada was plagued by problematic weather, ranging from sun to clouds to snow. To establish continuity and remove the snow, Method replaced the entire background throughout with matte paintings based on early concepts. Additionally, they created the fully CG train crash sequence.

“It’s always a pleasure to work with a director like Dougal, who collaborates from the early stages and trusts the expertise of his key crew,” Walsh shared. “Despite the weather’s best efforts to thwart us, the entire team at Method brought their A-game to achieve photoreal environments and destruction, which allowed the client to avoid reshoots and delays. This was a very exciting concept – who doesn’t love Westerns? – and we were thrilled to bring it to the screen.”

Creative Agency: BBDO

Chief Creative Officer BBDO Worldwide: David Lubars

Chief Creative Officer BBDO New York: Greg Hahn

Group Executive Creative Director: Matt Macdonald

Executive Creative Directors: David Povill, David Cuccinello

Creative Directors: Kevin Mulroy, Dan Kenneally

Director of Integrated Production: David Rolfe

Group Executive Producer: Julie Collins

Executive Producer: Jessica Coccaro

Business Manager: Meg Foley

Managing Director: Rachel Nairn

Senior Director: David McKenzie

Account Director: Allie Knill

Director of Project Management: Colin Vidika

Communications Planning Director: Mac Russell

Media Agency: Hearts & Science