The Car that Reads the Road

This campaign was an amazing opportunity given to us by our friends over at Publicis Mojo in Sydney. First off, car ads are a cool medium for us because we’sre well versed in complex choreographies between camera and objects after doing impossible things in CG for years. Second, the idea for this project involved typography, and it pretty safe to say that there aren’st many directors working out there with more pedigree in typography and type design than us.

The basic premise of the campaign is that the highly evolved new Toyota Camry can ‘read the road’, with its many computer-controlled features including rain and light sensors, ABS, VSC, EBD, VDM etc. Anyway, the agency looked at H5 legendary Alex Gopher video and realized that there was something else that could be done with the idea ?‚àö√ë‚àö√Ü which is where we came in. Together, we developed the concept of shooting complete plates with the car on a location and then, step by step, replacing whatever is necessary to tell the story with words.

Wellington was chosen very early on for obvious reasons: An eclectic city, wild natural beauty and great crews. Plus, they drive on the left side of the street. When searching for locations and blocking and framing shots, we frequently experienced a mild sensation of dyslexia: Not only did we have to watch continuity in a world where (to us) everything is the wrong way around, we also had to make sure that the (at that point imaginary) type would be legible depending on what direction the cars and the camera are moving.

We spent a total of three weeks in New Zealand, starting with six days of location scouting. Four shooting days were spent in Wellington, where we shut down down town for a Sunday. Then we moved out into the country to the rolling green hills of Wairarapa, and the seaside at Ngawi, where we wrapped the production with one helicopter day.

Back in New York City for post production, the most interesting challenge was to design the type. We ended up designing just one custom-made alphabet for all the cars, but made all sorts of letter-like shapes for everything else. We made fun letters looking like buildings, trees, clouds, leaves and birds. We made letters carved into a cliff, and a flock of sheep forming a sentence. None of it could have been achieved with off-the-shelf fonts.

As for the compositing of the whole thing, it was to look as real as fantasy can be. Every shot had CG components that had to match our DP Chris White wonderful footage. Thankfully, we were given more than three months to finish 90 seconds worth of heavy CG.

Click here to view video!

Brand New School:
Jonathan Notaro & Jens Gehlhaar

Shot on location in New Zealand

New Zealand production
Cherokee Films, Auckland
Director of photography:
Chris White
Production designer:
Danny Black
1st Assistant Director:
Toby Pease
Precision Driver:
Mark Prowse
Katie Smith
Production Manager:
Carey Johnson

Post production
Brand New School, New York
Post production producer:
Amanda Slamin
Technical director
Dickson Chow
Flame artist:
Blake “The Colt” Huber
Irene Park, Bee Jin Tan, Jin Lee, Jose Fuentes, Amber Kusmenko
Tonya Smay, Brendan Smith, Connie Conrad, Shana Silberberg, Anca Risa
Keetra Dixon, Danny Ruiz, Eric Adolfsen, Ludovic “The Wolf” Schorno
3D artists:
Ylli Orana, Jordan Blit, Mike “Tequila” Papagni, Helen Choi, Kyle Cassidy, Kitty Lin, Kim Kehoe, Matt Connolly, Tony Barbeiri, Sung Kim, Doug Vitarelli, Ho Sik Nam
Concept artists:
Jonathan Notaro, Ronald Kuraiawan

Blue Rock, New York
Geordie Anderson

Publicis Mojo Australia, Sydney

New Order, “Age of Consent”

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