MJZ, Rock Paper Scissors, A52 and Others Team-Up for High-Concept Spots

Award-winning Los Angeles visual effects and design company A52 today detailed their contributions to two spots recently developed by advertising agency RPA for Acura. Directed by MJZ Phil Joanou ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® whose feature film ‘Gridiron Gang’ became the number one U.S. box office film for the week following its Sep. 15 opening ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® ‘Anthem’ and ‘Tech’ debuted last month, and will continue to air over the weeks ahead as part of RPA national cross-media campaign.

‘Anthem’ and ‘Tech’ both target entrepreneurial, forward-thinking consumers and highlight Acura commitment to advanced technologies and premium performance. ‘Anthem’ is a :60 cinematic treatise on the brand focus on advancing performance, technology, design, and life itself. ‘Tech’ features a man nighttime trek through the city to pick up his dry cleaning; illustrating the sleek TL performance, its security features, and its voice-recognition driven navigation, HandsFreeLink and climate control systems, the :30 spot conveys that there are no boring drives in the Acura TL.

In ‘Anthem,’ A52 3D artists created animated windmills, a satellite and clouds, and a digital wireframe of the hero car for a sketch-wireframe-car transition ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® and the company effects artists handled numerous creative compositing challenges to convey the passing of time and support the spot storyline. Challenges for ‘Tech’ involved creating/integrating a CGI satellite, compositing a wireframe grid with live-action footage, and beautifying the final scene.

‘Everyone at A52 was amazing to work with and did an incredible job bringing the spots to life with their impressive CG capabilities,’ said Mark Erwin, senior V.P., creative director at RPA, who also served as the art director for both spots.

‘These spots represent great contributions from some of my favorite collaborators,’ Joanou said. ‘Working closely with the agency and with A52 Pat Murphy to determine what we needed to shoot to get what we were after, the talents of DP Jeff Cutter, colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld, editor Adam Pertofsky and many others at A52 all weighed in heavily. I could not be happier with the finished results.’

Continuing, Joanou added, ‘I’ve been working with A52 for years now. Including their artistic handling of numerous effects for me in ?‚àö√ë‚àö‚â§Gridiron Gang,’s they have always come through for me. I consider them one of the best visual effects houses in the business, they not only do great work, but they are incredibly flexible and creative. Just great to work with in every way.’

A52 Pat Murphy, who served as the project VFX supervisor, provided workflow details on several key scenes in ‘Anthem,’ including the opening shot of a distant city. ‘That scene begins with a four-hour timelapse scene shot during the day,’ he began. ‘Phil personally went to Company 3, where he sat with Stefan and color-corrected that piece of footage in a multitude of ways for daytime, sunset and nighttime passes.’ With those passes for reference, Murphy added the CG windmills created by 3D supervisor Andy Hall team, shifted the light from the sky onto the ground in front of the city as day becomes night, hand-animated lights into the windows of the buildings in-sync with the turning of the windmills, and added many other subtle adjustments to complete the illusion. ‘The important thing is that it was a huge collaboration on everybody’s part,’ Murphy pointed out.

The scene with two men in a factory was filmed with the men at a table in front of a green-screen. They performed their actions time and again for the director in different wardrobes, and then all the plates were composited together at A52.

A building where the lights come on from bottom to top was filmed with no internal lights illuminated; the lights were added in 2D in Inferno, the background sky was replaced and the moon added in.

Another big ‘Anthem’ scene for A52 is the empty warehouse that magically transforms into an art museum. The empty warehouse was dirtied up with debris, and the dramatic transition involved layering-in groups of people, works of art, reflections in the floor, and other elements. ‘Beginning exclusively with a shot of an empty warehouse, the entire scene was basically built in 2D in Inferno by Raul Ortego, which is pretty huge,’ Murphy added.

A52 artistry on ‘Anthem’ also helped to bring a sketch of an Acura to life, and combined CG elements and seamless effects work in the space-to-earth and final pullout sequences.

Along with Mark Erwin, RPA creative team also included senior V.P., creative director and copywriter Pat Mendelson, copywriter Daniel Elmslie, producer Jen Dennis and senior V.P. and executive producer Gary Paticoff. A52 team also included executive producer Mark Tobin, producer Scott Boyajan, effects artists Raul Ortego, Tim Bird, Justin Blaustein and James Pastorius, 3D supervisor Andy Hall, 3D artists Dan Gutierrez, Paolo deAlmada and Sean Comer, and matte painter Helen Maier. Telecine was handled by Stefan Sonnenfeld at Company 3, and for Rock Paper Scissors, credits also include executive producer Dave Sellars, producers Joshua Moss and Dan Brimer, and assistant editors Maya Hawke and Tyler Nelson.

‘Anthem’ uses the music track ‘Dreamers’ from Supertramp. Music for ‘Tech’ was composed by Chris Campanaro of LA-based Elias Arts, and the spot sound design was courtesy of Elias’s John DeStefano and Dean Hovey. Each spot final mix was engineered by Jeff Payne of Eleven Sound.

About A52
Established in 1997 as a home for the very latest high-end photo-real visual effects technologies and the industry most innovative and talented graphic design artists, West Hollywood visual effects and design company A52 creates award-winning imagery for the world most visually ambitious commercial and television projects. The company work has earned AICP Show recognition for nine consecutive years along with recent ‘Outstanding Commercial’ Emmy, Andy, BDA, Belding, Clio, British Design and Art Direction, International Monitor, International Automotive Advertising, London International Advertising, One Show and PROMAX awards. For more information, please call Mark Tobin at 310.385.0851 or visit www.A52.com.

About RPA
RPA, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., is the largest independent advertising agency based on the West Coast, with more than $1 billion in billings. RPA builds momentum for brands by offering its clients truly integrated campaigns that resonate throughout its disciplines, which include traditional advertising, media planning and buying, interactive, direct and event marketing. For more information, visit www.rpa.com.




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