The Toyota Camry is a car that intuitively reads the road. This is the message that the creatives at Sydney-based Publicis Mojo want viewers to read, once they get past the alphabet-soup of a world created digitally by the animation gurus at Fire Horse Studio, whose diverse portfolio includes animation work on brands such as Austar Foxtel, Daikin, and Jacobâ€™s Creek, and Volvo. The 15-second spot was aimed primarily at the 35 years old and above male audience looking for style, technology, and efficiency. The TVC opens with interplanetary pieces spelling the word â€œmeteorâ€Â zooming past viewers, as they stratospherically traject past a satellite (carrying the word â€œsolar panelâ€Â), barely avoid a collision with a jumbo jet (bearing â€œ747â€Â), and speed towards a city that rapidly comes into view (and along with it words such as â€œcity,â€Â â€œlake,â€Â and â€œparkâ€Â). Screeching to a booming halt amidst what is now evidently a city of words, viewers touch down strategically at the front grill of the new Toyota Camry, even as a metro trails away spelling â€œmonorail.â€Â
A commercial that viewers will no doubt want to watch over and over again if only to best the challenge of catching all the words cleverly presented in various elements, the challenge Mojo issued to Fire House Studio was to create an entire 3D world for the spot, incorporating words as real objects in the world whilst keeping a fi ne balance between cartoon and reality. And while the animation does have an uncanny Google Earth look-and-feel to it, there is much more than meets the eye. â€œWe have found from other projects that we cannot use any imagery from Google Earth due to copyright,â€Â explains Scotty Wilcox, Fire Horse Studioâ€™s animation director. â€œSo we had to fi nd a source of aerial photography and satellite imagery that would fi t within our budget. But considering all of that, we still needed to create our world. We had to design the entire layout of â€˜Camryvilleâ€™ as we liked to call it, and all of the elements within it. It was a hybrid of words built from real world objects and materials to create a strange hybrid World of words of realism and fantasy.â€Â And whi le the presentat ion of â€œCamryvilleâ€Â in 3D certainly injected an element of the fantastical, Fire Horse Studio took pains to enhance the reality of this digitally created world. And here, the devil is in the air. â€œI wanted to ensure that even though we were working in 3D, that we had a feeling of real world light and of air. They work hand in hand in the real world,â€Â muses Wilcox. â€œAir particles are part of our world and I fi nd them strangely vacant in many Hollywood blockbusters when they cut to an effects shot. I looked at fi lms such as â€˜Minority Reportâ€™ for a color guide and made a decision to take our and more of the â€˜set dressingâ€™ on the end scene,â€Â Wilcox confesses. â€œSo a system was devised to split the setup into different scenes, share the camera and move onwards. It was not the way we would have liked to work, but we made the air-date.â€Â Powering the massive 3D datacrunching and animation work was Softimage XSI for modeling, texturing, animation, and rendering. Zbrush was used for sculpting such as the â€œMeteorâ€Â text. For the 2D elements, Photoshop was used on the textures, while After Effects and Shake were used for compositing. In addition, based on aerial photography, in-house software was written to generate the vast expanses of fully textured 3D residential and commercial buildings from a photographic base. â€œAs with all such developments, these tools are now available to be used and adapted to suit other projects in the future,â€Â quips Wilcox. And the result? A provocat ive commercial for Toyota Camry that puts a new spin on reading between the lines.