Honda Fit is Born, Becomes Predator in CG-Rich Spots from AD Agency RPA

Award-winning Los Angeles visual effects and design company A52 today detailed its design, animation and effects work on two new :30 TV spots from advertising agency RPA and MJZ director Phil Joanou for the all-new Honda Fit. The spots, entitled ‘Reflexes’ and ‘Food Chain’, debuted on Apr. 20, and will continue airing during high-profile broadcast programming over the weeks ahead.

In ‘Reflexes’ viewers see a brand new Fit having its ‘cat-like reflexes’ tested via a drop-test; suspended upside-down above the ground, the Fit is dropped, but is able to right itself to land on its wheels and drive away. In ‘Food Chain,’ the classic images of a big fish eating a smaller fish are updated in a futuristic city, in which one car literally eats a smaller car and is eaten by an SUV, which is then eaten by the subcompact Fit.

‘Phil Joanou had the creative vision for each of these spots, and it was a sincere pleasure for our team to serve as his visual partner in bringing each one to life,’ said A52 executive producer Mark Tobin.

“I could not be happier with the work A52 did on this project,” Joanou confirmed. “They went above and beyond the call of duty, adding detail and dimension to both spots that were extraordinary. The CG work on the cars was fantastic and the background city they created for the Food Chain spot exceeded my expectations. Once again, A52 proved why they are one of the best and most creative EFX houses in town.”

Details on the creation of each spot were provided by Pat Murphy, A52 lead Inferno artist on the project, and CG supervisor Andrew Hall, both of whom were on-set during the live-action shoot.

For ‘Reflexes,’ Joanou and DP Jeff Cutter shot the set piece of the colorful, undulating floor surface, then the Fit was filmed in a white cyc environment for lighting reference, where it was also dropped to give a sense of its weight. The plate for the set piece was extended through digital matte paintings and compositing to make it appear as a vast sea of sets, and CG content was created to portray the upper levels of the factory seen through the opening above the set. Using Maya for animation and Mental Ray for rendering, A52 team translated all the vehicle information from the live-action shoot into the look of the fully CGI car, adding reflections to the car and ground, cleaning up the set and making other adjustments to the finished composition ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® like adding a glowing light emitting from the opening.

For ‘Food Chain,’ Joanou filmed all four vehicles shown during the morning, with very specific lighting conditions. Also, a concept artist provided a sketch of a futuristic city. With these elements in-hand, under Joanou supervision, the finished spot was then created almost entirely in Maya, using a 2D matte painting of the cityscape enhanced with futuristic CG architectural highlights. Here again, the models of the CG vehicles were rendered to perfectly match the live-action vehicles filmed on set, including the use of tracking data from the practical footage to match camera-weave and provide more fluidity in the finished animation.

With the CG vehicles composited into the cityscape matching Rock Paper Scissors’s editor Brad Waskewich cut, Murphy and his fellow Inferno artists Ben Looram and Justin Blaustein added debris and dust to the vehicles, tire marks and debris to the road, and atmosphere to the cityscape. With the goal of giving the city a ‘gritty, lived-in’ look, Murphy also performed a painstaking color-grade in Inferno to properly depict the time of day, adding warmth to the top of the frame and subtle blues to the bottom.

‘One of our biggest challenges was giving the agency the comfort level that we could create the cars in these spots in CG and have no one question their believability,’ Hall explained.

‘The finished spots really represent Phil vision, and I think he was blown away,’ added Murphy. ‘Overall, the job went really smoothly, and it felt like everyone was on the same page the whole way through.’

Both spots feature Japanese anime-style end-animation created by the artists at bicoastal Stardust Studios.

RPA executive producer Gary Paticoff produced this project for the agency, where the creative team also included creative directors Joe Baratelli and David Smith, and associate creative directors Curt Johnson and Todd Carey. A52 team also included producer Ron Cosentino, 3D animators Dan Gutierrez, Chris Janney, Kirk Shintani and Max Ulichney, and matte painters Helen Maier and James Pastorius. Telecine was handled by Stefan Sonnenfeld at Company 3, and for Rock Paper Scissors, credits also include executive producer Dave Sellars and producer Scott Friske.

Music was composed by Jimmy Haun (‘Reflexes’) and Chris Mann (‘Food Chain’) of Elias Arts. Sound design was courtesy of 740 Sound Eddie Kim, and each spot final mix was engineered by Loren Silber of Lime Studios.

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 been earned AICP Show recognition for six 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

About RPA

RPA, based in Santa Monica, Calif., is the largest independent advertising agency based on the West Coast. Since its founding in 1986, the agency independent and integrated approach has led to award winning work for a variety of clients including Honda, Acura, Pioneer Electronics, Blue Cross of California, ARCO, VH1, California Pizza Kitchen, Gardenburger, Bugle Boy Jeans, WebTV, Morningstar and ampm. RPA offers its clients truly integrated campaigns that resonate throughout its disciplines including traditional advertising, media services, interactive and direct and event marketing. For more information, visit

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