Rhinofx Create for Subway & Toyota

rhinofx Director, Vico Sharabani recently teamed with Alex Lamarque of Bully Pictures on a recent :30 live action and effects spot for Subway’s Scrabble promotion. In the promotion, Subway customers collect lettered game pieces to spell out sandwich-related words to win an array of prizes, including the Grand Prize giveaway of multiple Toyota Highlanders.

The spot opens on a Toyota hybrid zipping around the countryside, hugging the road, driving past the lens. After a series of shots emphasizing Toyota’s style and design, the hills begin to rise and curl from several angles. Adding to the context, viewers can see the perfect surfer’s curl reflected in the side view mirror. As the spot progresses, it feels like the hillside is actually chasing the car, while another piece of slope quickly rises in its path. Engulfing the car, the landscape transforms into Subway Scrabble wrapper, folding itself around the vehicle and guaranteeing Subway freshness and fun.

Vico notes, “It’s a car commercial, and then it’s not a car commercial. We had to treat the opening to mirror a clich?¬¨¬©, with great running footage and car shots, but the spot had to be composed to tell a different story. It’s not about the car after all. So many automotive spots incorporate effects, so that when the hills begin animating, it still looks like a car commercial. I loved the challenge of keeping the viewers attention, then surprising them. The tail truly wags the dog here. How we show the conceptual effects determined how we tell told story.”

“Initially everyone focused on the effects, dismissing the car shots as running footage,” continues rhinofx Managing Director, Rick Wagonheim. “Vico focused on the concept, wrapping a landscape around a driving vehicle, making certain the car look great so it felt like a car spot, and then suddenly surprising them. When Vico is setting the shot, selecting the angle, and composing the shot, he approaches the lens knowing exactly what the shot will look like seven weeks later, whether he’s shooting a car, an actor, an element or a landscape.”

With a background as a Visual Effects Creative Director and Supervisor, Vico has a long track record of creative concept development, frequently collaborating with agencies and other directors before a project is green lighted. His recent credits include Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, ESPN, and the Weinstein Company’s feature film release, The Nanny Diaries. In addition to his technical skills, his approach to designing effects is conceptual and creative, always asking, “How do the effects support the story?”

“Creating nature within a 3D environment involves a high level of complexity,” notes Vico. “It’s challenging to scale in CG while still maintaining credibility. We had to twist, curl, raise and fold the terrain, animating in a very unnatural way, while preserving the realistic details of the outdoors.”

To maintain realism, rhino artists incorporated the subtleties of changing light and shadow as the hills raise over the car, blocking the sun and showcasing the car’s beauty. After all, it’s a car spot that’s not a car spot.

Since its launch in 2000, rhinofx has created award-winning visual effects, design, and animation for commercials, VFX for feature films, episodic television, webisodic mini-series, and videogame cinematics. The company’s principals and artists have also led the industry’s exploration into the boundless potential of branded digital content. By cultivating extensive relationships with key brands, advertising agencies, and film/TV studios, rhinofx utilizes its creative directors and artists to develop and execute powerful branded entertainment to build both identity and awareness. The company’s principals include: CD/Director Vico Sharabani, CD/Director Harry Dorrington, CD/Director Arman Matin, CD/Director Natasha Saenko, COO Camille Geier, CEO North America Zviah Eldar, and Managing Director Rick Wagonheim.

Client: Subway

Spot Title: Landscape

Agency: MMB, Boston

President/CD: Fred Bertino

Partner/CD(s): Jamie Mambro, Jerry Cronin

AD: Jen Campbell

Copywriter: Collin Sheehan

Managing Director: Chad Caufield

Director of Broadcast: Sara Ventetuolo

Prod Co: Bully Pictures

Co-Director: Alex LaMarque

EP: Jason Forest

Producer: Kevin Sharpton

Post/Effects: rhinofx

Co-Director: Vico Sharabani

CG Supervisor: Yuval Levy

Lead TD: Ken Wesley

TD: Ivan Guerrero

3D Modeler: Bogdan Mihajlovic

3D Animator: Jordan Blit

Lead Lighter: Tom Bardwell

3D Lighter: Veronica Skogberg

2D Designer: Hili Tsarfati

Flame Compositor: Micky Gorenstein

Editor: Catherine Benedek

Producer: Cara Buckley

Executive Producer/COO: Camille Geier

Managing Director: Rick Wagonheim

Telecine: Crosspoint

Colorist: Eric Anolin

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