This new spot for Dodge in the US directed by Australian shop XYZ Studios (represented by The Ebeling Group) is of interest to me (for reasons of full disclosure, partly because I used to work there) mostly because it takes the format of a stock-standard dealer ad and pushes it much further in the direction of a branding spot for Dodge.
All of the typical dealer feature list type stuff is there, but wrapped up and presented as a short story with the group of pals being the focus, and the aforementioned features being show and enjoyed, rather than being thrown at you in 40 point type surrounded by exploding fireworks and an aggressive voiceover.
It’s also another good example of boutique studios like XYZ taking fairly dry material and taking the time, effort and no doubt some arm-twisting with the client to produce something effective and outside the norm for the genre.
I should also note the excellent VFX work done by Charlex. They handled all the animation and post. They did a beautiful job blending the hyper-realism of the CG car with the sketched style of the characters.
More details below from the release, most of it will be nothing new to most readers, but does give a good outline of the production:
“The only real element in the spot is the interior of the car, which was shot on motion control in LA. The exterior of the car is photo-real CG, and this is embedded in a highly illustrated and stylised world which the car travels through. The actors in the spot are a highly stylised CG and illustration hybrid. On the live shoot, actors were cast and placed in the car to gauge composition and timings. Using the motion control camera, we were able to shoot clean passes without them in the shot. In post, they were replaced with the stylised digital doubles. We used the live action performance to drive the animation performance.
‘The unique graphic look of the environment and characters was developed using sophisticated toon and ambient shaders in Maya, with some good old hand illustration thrown in as well.’ Says XYZ Studios Director Tim Kentley, ‘This means that in any one shot of the spot, you often have four animation techniques overlapping – from hand drawn illustration, to a photo-real CG car, to live action interior shots and full CG characters. A complex, yet compelling, mix that produces a unique, engaging and super cool look for the launch of the 2009 Dodge Journey.’ “