Los Angeles visual effects design company A52 today detailed its contributions to the latest broadcast campaign from the creatives at advertising agency Team One, and Gorgeous Enterprises/Anonymous Content director Peter Thwaites, for Lexus.
For the campaign's five :30 spots, Team One's credits include executive creative directors Chris Graves and Jon Pearce, creative director Phillip Squier ("Instinct"), copywriter John Hage ("Instinct") and executive producer Jack Epsteen. The first spots three feature international recording artists Diana Krall, Elvis Costello and John Legend commenting on music as they savor it from inside a Lexus. Edited by Rock Paper Scissors' Brad Waskewich, these three "See Music" spots were finished at A52 and feature cosmetic effects and graphic contributions from A52's artists.
Next, a :30 spot entitled "Fast Reimagined" uses artful effects and editing by Rock Paper Scissors' Adam Pertofsky to combine stock and original live-action footage to visually contrast what "fast" has meant in the past with what it will mean when the all-new 2008 Lexus LS 600h L Hybrid Sedan is released later this summer. A52's project visual effects supervisor Kirk Balden calls the spot's end footage of the running LS 600h L a "triumph of digital technology."
Balden and A52's producer Pete King participated in extensive pre-production meetings with Thwaites, Epsteen and the agency creatives - and were also present during the campaign's live-action shoots. "On 'Fast,' Peter had all sorts of ideas about what he wanted, as well as other shots or effects that could be tried," Balden said. "In general, we just tried to add a layer of practicality onto the early creative discussions that were going on without hindering Peter's vision or process in any way.
"When we're on set," Balden continued, "we're often called upon simply to let the director know that he can move forward with an idea knowing that we will be able to complete the shot as he's pictured it. Peter tends to think out loud in this regard, so he'd usually figure out the answer to whatever question might've arisen simply by talking it through while we listened."
For this spot's end-footage of the car, Balden explained that the Lexus was shot with a Canon digital SLR on the end of a camera rig as a series of long exposures. To address quality concerns, the team pulled the memory card from the camera after every take, plugged it into a laptop and played the sequence back for Thwaites, director of photography Stuart Graham, and the agency and client executives on location. "As soon as we got a look at the first take, we were all instantly convinced that this would look great," Balden explained. "The footage looked amazing on its own, but once Pat Murphy and I finished with it, re-editing the takes to create a sort of day-to-night transition, adding a little move, blurring the background, and playing with the reflections on the car itself, it really looked gorgeous."
The fifth spot in the campaign, entitled "Instinct," features the impending crash of a Lexus with a pickup truck in a busy metropolitan intersection. Edited by Rock Paper Scissors' Angus Wall, the spot uses variable playback speeds and different angles on the intersecting vehicles - and on the people and creatures nearby - to highlight Lexus' Pre-Collision System's "ability to recognize and react to a threat." In this case, A52's contributions involved effects artists Raul Ortego, Justin Blaustein and Mike Bliss compositing separate plates of the Lexus and the truck together, providing clean-up on the road and ensuring that shadows of both vehicles were consistent in the final picture, among other feats. Also, working with agency art director Phillip Squier, A52's artists Max Ulichney and Kirk Shintani helped conceptualize and create the graphic animation at the end to illustrate the car's response as it prepares to run into the truck.
"On Lexus, A52 comes through for us time and time again," said Team One's Epsteen. "They continually contribute an aesthetic that is perfect within the world of Lexus work. Whether it's subtle finessing or massive visual effects (both of which were important to this campaign), we know that when we see the final product, it's always exactly what we need."
Production was overseen by Anonymous Content's executive producer Cassie Hulen, and line producer Ben Link of Gorgeous Enterprises.
Stefan Sonnenfeld served as colorist for Company 3 in Santa Monica.
Rock Paper Scissors' campaign credits also include producer CL Weaver and assistant editor David Brodie. A52's team also included executive producer Mark Tobin.
Sound design on "Instinct" was handled by Ren Klyce of Mit Out Sound, and on "Fast Reimagined" by Kim Christensen at Noises Digital.