Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards
How Warm & Fuzzy Helped ZipRecruiter Whisk Job Hunters Away to their Employment Daydreams
Los Angeles, USA
W&F director and co-founder John Bashyam tells LBB how he helped craft a series of buttery-smooth transitions in a fun new ad for the employment marketplace

Of all the things we may associate with job-hunting, convenience probably isn’t one of them. It’s more often a time of uncertainty and stress, with long hours spent writing resumes and trawling through vacancies online. 

ZipRecruiter, the US-based employment marketplace, is all about making that often-fraught process as simple and streamlined as possible. And that’s certainly the impression you’d get from its latest ad campaign, which features daydreaming employees suddenly transported to new opportunities with silky smoothness. 

The ad’s gorgeous effects came to life thanks to the VFX team at Warm & Fuzzy, spearheaded by John Bashyam. In addition to the brilliantly polished transitions, the film also features fully CG environments, and outfit changes for the actors. 

To discover how it all came together - and chew through a fascinating VFX breakdown video of the spot - LBB sat down with John… 

Above: ZipRecruiter’s latest ad sees daydreaming employees whisked away to new opportunities.

LBB> John, what was the initial brief for this project - and what were your goals heading into it? 

John> The brief was to craft a series of seamless transitions, in order to tell the story of someone going from their current job to their dream job. From our perspective, we obviously wanted to make it as cool as possible and elevate it beyond just the typical transition effect.

LBB> Mission accomplished - those transitions are incredibly smooth. How much of a challenge was it to achieve that seamless feeling? 

John> It was a lot of painstaking work both on set (making sure the takes matched as closely as possible) and in post, going frame by frame to mask, warp, and blend each scene.

LBB> Did you take any inspiration when it came to animating the specific jobs and environments?

John> For the most part we played off of the practical set design elements. The office cubicle has a natural box shape to it, which lends itself to unfolding away as it does in the ad. On a similar note, we see the bookshelf in the office sequentially falling backwards, and the curtains being pulled to reveal the conference room. Oh, and the clipboard and hat falling into place on the ranger. We essentially took elements that were already there, and played with how they might naturally animate. 

LBB> From a technical standpoint, what techniques did you use and why? 

John> Most of the transitions involved 3D projection mapping. That’s essentially where you taking live action footage and project it onto 3D geometry. 

By using that technique, we can model out the environment and manipulate it in a more realistic way (such as having the bookshelves fall). It just looks a lot better than doing something 2D, and gives it that sense of dimensionality.

Above: A behind-the-scenes VFX breakdown video neatly encapsulates the ambition of the ad. 

LBB> Going into the project, what did you expect the most challenging element to be? 

John> It was always going to be getting these scenes to match up as closely as possible in-camera, so that our VFX was possible. If we didn’t shoot it correctly, we could have ended up making ten times the amount of work for ourselves.

LBB> So how did you make sure the shoot went off flawlessly?

John> We meticulously planned the shots beforehand, collaborating with the director from a very early point in the process. We also had two supervisors on set to make sure everything was being filmed correctly. 

There were lots of things to keep track of- like making sure the actor was doing the same action in both scenes, overlaying the footage to check, making sure the camera distance is consistent, getting multiple layers of elements, clean plates, green screen plates, taking reference photos and measurements, and many other components. It was all about fine details. 

We also did practical lighting cues, changing from ‘indoor’ to ‘outdoor’ lighting to help sell the transitions.

LBB> If you had your time again, is there anything you’d do differently? 

John> I think next time around we would use a motion control rig, to make some of the transitions even more seamless and visually complex.

LBB> Over the course of working on this ad, did you learn anything new which you could apply to future projects?

John> Yeah - we certainly improved and streamlined our on-set supervision workflow, and a lot of the 3D projection techniques will come in handy on other work.

LBB> Finally, the ad encourages us to daydream about jobs. If you weren’t putting together jaw-dropping VFX Monday to Friday, what do you think you’d be doing right now?

John> Right now, with the summer sun shining through my window, I’d probably something that doesn’t involve sitting by a computer all day!

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