The artists and producers from visual effects studio Brewster Parsons recently contributed to Acura‘s latest regional television spots from advertising agency rp& and Chelsea Pictures director Bruce Hunt. With five :30 spots, the stylish campaign featuring a “day for night” theme debuted ads for the TL and MDX in May, while others for the TSX, RDX and ILX have followed over the past several weeks. All five spots are likely to continue airing across the U.S. throughout the summer.
“We wanted to develop a look for our regional work that could be unique, while also giving us the chance to highlight the performance and beauty of these vehicles,” said John Hage, rp&’s executive creative director.
“The whole visual idea was based on the look the agency wanted,” Brewster Parsons VFX supervisor Andrew Eksner said. “The original ‘day-for-night’ concept was closer to ‘day-for-eclipse.’ The daytime footage was converted to a darker look with the cars protected to keep them brighter.” Gathering the live-action footage using the ARRI Alexa digital camera system, Hunt, director of photography Simon Duggan and the Chelsea Pictures crew each used one day for every featured Acura model, shooting for three days on the Warner Bros. backlot and two days at the Disney ranch.
“We really got the band back together for this latest series of five Acura spots, bringing together the same great team from rp&, and the same great crew,” Hunt said. “The team from rp& served up another great visual challenge for me – a visually striking obstacle course, set at night on a Hollywood studio backlot. It allowed me the opportunity to capture all of that theatricality, while providing the Acuras’ drivers all of the freedom of a closed course.”
“Our Acura drivers Rich Rutherford and Greg Tracy did some amazing driving over tough night and day courses – memorable reverse 180°s, intercepts and hard drift turns, followed precisely by Randy of Pursuit Systems. The drivers’ level of control and professionalism is incredible, and our car prep guys ran like a pit crew.”
“In dressing the backlot, my production designer Mark Benson and I ran riot with this false world,” Hunt said. “It was art school heaven – making references to the surrealists, particularly Fellini‘s ‘And the Ship Sails On’ and ‘8½.’ Painted Roman backdrops hung beside surrealist arches and prop statuary stood side-by-side life-sized cutouts of actors, directors and stagehands to populate the set. And most bizarre was interspersing real talent among the cutouts.”
“Post was done by the clever and talented team at Brewster Parsons, enhancing the distinct look and feel of the ‘day for night’ shoot, lifting headlights and simplifying skies and backgrounds ever so slightly. The edit was done by David Henegar of Butcher, who loved the pace and dynamics from the start, and did a great job.”
Since three of the spots were shot during the day and two at night, a main challenge for the Brewster Parsons team was making them all match visually. According to Eksner, the project’s all-digital production workflow made it easier for him to perform tests during the shoots to ensure everyone was on-board with how they would ultimately look.
“The footage was transferred by MPC‘s Mark Gethin with a few different color passes – a darker one for the background and a brighter ‘beauty’ one for the cars,” Eksner said. “Many elements were designed as far as brightness, highlights and other aspects of the look. Using all the color passes, I designed a hero look that pleased everyone.”
For the VFX effort, Eksner’s colleagues included his fellow Autodesk Flame artists Simon Brewster, Brad Scott, Simon Scott and Emily Bloom, and rotoscope artists Merlin Carroll, Mike Plescia, Holly Horter, Chris Buongiorno and Nathan James.
Along with Hage, standing behind these spots for rp& are VP, head of art Phillip Squier, copywriter Rich Siegel, art director Brian Hall, VP, executive producer Jack Epsteen and senior producer Erin Finch. The team from Chelsea Pictures also included executive producer Allison Amon and line producer Greg Schultz. The team for Brewster Parsons also includes producer Georgina Poushkine and executive producer Darcy Parsons.