In the latest campaign for Toyota Prius, Saatchi & Saatchi LA partnered with Eight VFX to introduce a new character: People Person. The spot, “Family,” is a triumph for production in its ability to tell a story using a variety of visual effects, some technology based and others human-engineered.
To bring the ambitious spot to life, director, Mr. Hide, and production company, The Sweet Shop, teamed with Santa Monica-based company Eight VFX, whose founders Baptiste Andrieux and Jean-Marc Demmer have built an industry-wide reputation for inspired work in commercials, film and TV.
“We began the job back in March, and our team never lost its inspiration for the project and our affection for the character,” said Eight VFX Executive Producer Shira Boardman. “Mr. Hide was coming to LA to shoot this and he wanted a company that he could trust technically, as well as partner with creatively.”
The spot tells an ordinary tale – a man wakes up, brushes his teeth, has breakfast and heads off to work – but the spot is anything but simple in its imaginative telling.
The man is actually composed of all the members of his family who together make up the giant cartoonish figure. And when he finally emerges from his front door and looks at his driveway where the four Prius hybrid models-the third generation Prius, Prius Plug-in, Prius v and Prius c concept vehicle-are neatly lined up, the various members disentangle themselves from the figure and walk over to the cars and then drive off down the neat, suburban road. And to create this end shot, the neighborhood was shot as a miniature, while all the Prius cars are CG.
“We began with some drawings and then began to build it all in CG, so we could really figure out how it was all going to fit together and what the people person would look like,” said Demmer.
To create the effects, Eight VFX did an initial pre-vis, to help create a blueprint for how the spot would actually be shot. The next step was designing and creating the two rigs that supported the people functioning as the main figure. The first rig consisted of the man’s head, torso and his arms. The second rig included the legs and feet.
The pre-vis was also vital in helping Demmer and his team determine how best to handle scenes where the people person interacts with props – an alarm clock, door knob and newspaper.
“The pre-vis helped us decide what to shoot in miniature, what in real scale, and what needed to be built in CG,” said Demmer. “It helped us break it all down and plan a very complex shoot.”
The spot took five days to shoot at Universal Studios. Eight VFX had a team of five on the shoot daily, supervising every technical aspect, including compositing shots in real time to ensure the projects success. Demmer and his team of 22 spent over ten weeks replacing, reshaping and creating CG people and body parts, as well as fine-tuning and cleaning up all the various elements.
“We’re huge fans of Mr. Hide and his work, so it was such a real pleasure to collaborate with him on this,” said Demmer. “It was a great opportunity to combine miniature sets with oversize props, CG and real people.”
Client: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
Air Date: September 2011
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
ECD(s): Margaret Keene, Chris Adams, Mike McKay
CD(s): Ryan Jacobs, Jeff Church
ACD/Copywriter: Andy Kadin
ACD/Designer: Zach Richter
Copywriter: Kimberly Ragan
AD: Rebecca Johnson-Pond
Production Artist: Clint Hudspeth
Director of Integrated Production/Multimedia: Tanya LeSieur
Broadcast Senior Producer: Jennifer Pearse
3D Producer: Carl Deo
Project Manager: Alexis Ross
Group Account Director: Marisstella Marinkovic
Account Director: Marisstella Marinkovic
Account Supervisor Landon Nguyen
Account Executive: Suyun Wu
Strategic Planning Director: Sara Bamossy
Planning: Sara Bamossy/Regan Zajac
Communications Director: Samantha Johnson
Business Affairs Manager: Karen Mahoney
Prod Company: The Sweet Shop
Director: Mr. Hide
DP: John Toon
Art Director: Justin Trask
Production Designer: Sean Hargreaves
Post/Effects: Eight VFX
CD/VFX Supervisor: Jean-Marc Demmer
EP(s): Baptiste Andrieux, Shira Boardman
VFX Producer: Donna Langston
VFX Coordinator: Douglas Scruton
Roto and Paint: Marianne Magne, Chris Fregoso, Natalia Schkliar
3D Artist(s): Mathias Jourdes, Shuichi Nakahara, Kevin Culhane, Oliver Arnold
3D Supervisor(s): Giancarlo Lari, Vania Alban-Zapata
Compositor(s): Raphael Mosley, Andy Davis, Mathieu Caulet, Yann Mallard, Stephane Allender, Marcelo Pasqualino, Dave Stern, Joe Chiao, Tony Petitti, Colleen Smith
Editorial: Bikini Edit
EP: Gina Pagano
Editor: Avi Oron
Assistant Editor: Sterling Robertson
Music: Agoraphone Music
Music Supervisor: Beth Urdang
Licensed Music Track: “Got To Be Free”
Artist: The Kinks
Music Editorial: Go Home Productions
Editor: Mark Vodler
Sound Design: Lime
Sound Designer: Rohan Young
Eight VFX began in January 2005 with a simple philosophy – let craftsmanship and artistry be the guide. As relentless champions of this core belief, founders Baptiste Andrieux and Jean-Marc Demmer have seen their company quickly grow into a leading force in the VFX industry. With over six years of rigorous collaboration and experimentation on commercials for brands like Prius, Carl’s Jr, Adidas, Hahn Beer, Converse, HP (the now iconic “hands” campaigns), BMW, T-Mobile, Armani, LUX, Fidelity, among a slew of national and international brands, as well as television and features, Eight has demonstrated again and again that original vision translates into outstanding business.
A supreme commitment to craft, detail and innovation has attracted directors such as Tom Kuntz, Rocky Morton, Brian Beletic, Mr Hide, Stacy Wall, Sam Bayer, Bryan Buckley, Olivier Gondry, James Mangold, Joseph Kahn, Paul Hunter, Ruben Fleischer and Jonas Akerlund, among others.
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