Digital Domain for Mazda

Digital Domain’s full gamut of skills are on display in their latest work for Mazda. The advert is nearly 100% CG, from the cityscape to the fluid simulation and everything in between, it’s all beautifully crafted, rendered and composited.

The only letdown, for me, were the live actors. The visibly caked make-up, twisted costume material and semi-android behavior kinda ruined the homogeneity upon which the spot relies. Splitting hairs? Sure, but when everything is so spot on, those things jump out at me.

Interestingly, Psyop showed their pitch boards for this same spot at Inspire 08. I wish they’d won they job, if only because their narrative was more compelling than the hints of animatronic domination laced throughout the DD version. Oh well, the customer’s always right. Right?

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About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



I am with you. I wish Psyop would have done this as well. In addition to the lack of a real compelling narrative, the car looks like shit. It’s a car ad. The car should look great. CGI cars are no walk in the park. But, if you’re going to do them. Do them well, or shoot the damn thing.

Marc B.

Hmm i wish Justin could post the psyop boards for us to see the difference.

As for the CG cars i thought DD was one of the masters at it. I don’t think psyop could have done it better they never done CG cars AFAIK.


Hmm. I thought Psyop said that it was their idea to have the rest of the world turn red at the end. Hopefully I misheard.


You’re right, they did say that. Hmmm…


I would’ve used a different soundtrack as this one reminds me to walle’s pixar new film.


What you saying about Walle man? It’s awesome!!! ahahahah! :D
I’d like to see the boards too.


wow, I hated this.


would’ve liked to have seen psyop’s version as well. the type at the end is horrendous.


I’m not a huge fan of the spot either, but to DD’s defense, the edit could’ve been something political from the agency, client, or even the director. I’m not saying it is, just that it is a possibility. Maybe someone who worked on the spot can anonymously comment here?

As for the endtag, that ruined it for me too, but DD isn’t a mo-graph shop and I’m sure they don’t have any on their reel.

Psyop is a great vendor, but DD definitely has a great track record of creating cities that don’t call for much design work, which may be what the client was going for.

Simon Robson

Well, I really liked the human touch. There’s something quite ‘Barbarella’ about the costumes and caked-on make up. Overall It’s certainly not a creative tour de force, but its not bad. My fave part had to be the car turning everything to red at the end. This may well be an idea that came from one of ther other companies pitching, as far as i can see this happens all the time and people are quite used to it by now.


I’ve always been curious to know why vendors don’t have contracts with their clients regarding pitches, so that their concepts can be protected on that particular job.

Pitching fees are so small, it’s a terrible business ethic to steal a vendors idea and then give them no profit for their help.

Simon Robson

@ two.oh
Pitch fees? What pitch fees? Not in the UK mate…

“why vendors don’t have contracts with their clients regarding pitches”

Good question, simple answer:

Many vendors % few (good) jobs = buyers market


my comment has very little to do with this spot, which is middling and merits little discussion beyond the stylistic disgrace of frame #593, in which some duct tape appears to be attached to the character’s labia. it does, however, have more to do with the general discussion of how you run an agency or a production company,

the way agencies run client relationships today is far beyond ridiculous. more often than not agencies pitch for free, and then expect vendors (how much can i hate that word) do the same. i can’t tell you how often we’ve seen our own ideas that were presented in a no-fee or retained pitch executed poorly by another vendor because, as far as the client was concerned, the ideas were free or bundled and the execution was ‘just execution’. it’s not just my pride saying that; would that it were.

this is not an indictment of the client. i would love to pay bottom dollar for top-notch work, too; can’t fault that. but it reflects very much an agency culture built on fear. i agree with simon that it creates a buyers market; the challenge is to educate clients as to the benefit of the right seller. bad work damages brands; period.

Simon Robson

@ jasonK
Truer words…
And don’t get me started on ‘Music video’ competitions…The bands will be the ones crying into their beer when all the talent has left the industry, driven out by these ridiculous scams offering ‘unique opportunities’ to be a ‘creative part’ of a ‘band’s vision’, with a grand prize of a few thousand dollars to make the vid. Awesome

Marc B.

What if the director of this commercial was a motionographer contributor. Do you think the comments would still look like this?
Endless possibilities.


I have to stand up for this spot a little bit. I think people are missing the fact that the whole thing is supposed to be a little ridiculous, overdone, and goofy. I like the nutty costumes and the ever more silly paint attacks on the car. It’s almost like a Spy Vs. Spy type of scenario, and I mean that in a good way.

In addition, the fluid effects are well executed, which is more than you can say for 75% of the fluid work you see in spots today.

And yes, the type at the end is a crime against nature. But to give DD the benefit of the doubt, sometimes you don’t control the endtag. And I don’t recall them ever claiming to be a type powerhouse.


@ Simon
Pitch fees exist, although I have known some places that don’t get them from time to time. However, I do have to put food on the table, and I don’t work for free, so neither should these shops imho.

The chances of getting a job based on boards is often times a gamble depending on the vendor’s reputation, concepts, and budget estimatio. I’ve seen really great boards shot down to really ugly looking, and to silly ones because of those reasons.


Hey Marc, maybe you should start up your own blog and then your work would possibly see the light of day

Marc B.

jsaunders, i see no connection between your comment and my comment above.

Take it easy bro

Simon Robson

@ Marc B
Of course there’s a connection…
You’re implying that m’ographer is a nepotistic blog. You loosely try and disguise this by turning your accusation into a “What if”. Well in answer to your question, the comments would be the same. Our industry is one of the most meritocratic I know of. If you’re great you get work and coverage. If you’re not, you don’t. I mostly find that people call it as they see it based on the work. Of course a few don’t, and have their own personal agendas. But no one really takes them that seriously…do they?


I don’t mind most of the spot, though there are certainly some design choices I wouldn’t agree with. What I really hate is the crappy 90s typography at the end. Oh well, it’s a car commercial. 5 minutes from now = WHO CARES. (apologies to everyone in the industry, including myself.)

Marc B.

But Simon, my comment had nothing to do with coverage on this blog. Read it again please. I wrote about what if and how the comments would look like.


well, conceptually I’d say it’s pretty weak. and aside from the music, they did a pretty poor job of channeling the the concepts of “brazil”.


logline: futuristic albinos metaphorically attempt to ejaculate on a car. I want to buy a flamethrower from the nazi acolyte-flamethrower-storm troopers, and a car I guess.

Some nice realflow work, except with the first girl on the right, in the third shot?


The concept isn’t all that bad yet it isn’t all the good as well. The CGI car looks bad and if I were a car buyer I wouldn’t be that close into buying this car… The car should look great in this since in the first place they are trying to sell a car.


You guys are not seeing or commenting on the full process here. This was a live action commercial with a lot of CG. Why should Psyop or DD been involved with the actors and how they look and how they perform? Thats the directors job which in this case was Carl Rinsch of RSA. The agency must have had a very rough storyboard along with a script that they showed to the client. The director than made his pitch, probably in written form and the CG component was than pitched by effects companies. There isn’t a sole author to this spot, and there are hardly ever in advertising. If you want to make singular visionary work, make a film or at least a short film.

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