Alt.vfx have brought Honda’s latest TVC ad to the screen as a part of it's current campaign.

Alt.vfx worked with director Nathan Price from Goodoil Films and agency Leo Burnett Melbourne on ‘Dream Chaser’ their third advert for Honda, after Dream Run (directed by Nathan Price) and Wild Horses (directed by Hamish Rothwell).

The new ad features a remote newsreader who holds a dream of being the main studio anchor. When a mysterious comet crashes towards earth, she chases the story with her crew aboard a brand new Honda Civic, and after coming into contact with the crater, she hops back in time and into an alternative reality, exchanging places with the studio anchor and realising her dreams at last. We spoke to alt.vfx about the spot.

“We had to make sure that the comet didn’t look like a disaster movie, but instead helped realize Nathan’s vision of an other-worldly force,” said Alt's Executive Producer Kate Stenhouse. “We did a lot of look development before shooting to make sure we had the elements just right, from the comet and the explosion to the impact crater tendrils and the integration of the purple crystals.”

Filmed on location in Victoria, Dream Chaser director Nathan Price and his crew captured the actors and car in some of Australia’s most dramatic landscapes, Alt's VFX Supervisor Colin Renshaw was on set to oversee production. “Our environment artists worked closely with the Agency team and Nathan in creating the pre and post meteor strike landscape. Intricate CG simulations were used to create the comet breaking through the earth’s atmosphere. We had to strike a delicate balance between believability and fantasy and in the end, I think we nailed it. We are delighted with the latest instalment in our ongoing collaboration with Honda” he explains.

Partial comp of cg explosions (see video below)
Partial comp of cg explosions (see video below)

 

The team used Maya to pre-vis all of the post impact scenes with falling debris so they could get a feeling for the amount of debris trails that would be needed before they starting simulating them. "Houdini was used extensively for these simulations and we developed a method that allowed us to cluster the sims on multiple machines to allow for the huge resolution requirements" explained Renshaw.

The project was shot on Alexa and Alexa mini using a mix of anamorphic and spherical lenses. All of the aerial work was shot from a helicopter in Victoria. Alt.vfx sent two supervisors on the shoot - Sean Ryan focused on collecting all of the onset survey data, and Colin Renshaw  worked with production to problem solve issues as they arose.The ad was mastered in native 2k. Alt.vfx worked in Alexa ARRI Raw colour space and then graded the spot. It was then graded in their Brisbane studio by Billy Wychgel.

Almost every shot had a VFX requirement to it. The brief was to give it an other worldly dream-like quality so even simple shots had sky replacements and extra matte painting elements added. "Obviously the impact sequence had some quite complex CG shots involving smoke and fire sims and 3D environment work. It was 30 shots in total" he added.

Unlike the current trend of fully CG cars in such spots, the car here was always live action, but the team did use a proxy model of the Honda to catch the lighting and reflections from the CG meteors. "On the shot where the meteor flies past quite close to the car, we used the proxy to generate those groovy swinging shadows on the car" Renshaw adds.

 Below VFX making of reel:

One of the challenges was the limited use of practical explosions due to the reset time involved. With only two explosions possible in camera, alt.vfx had to do quite a lot of augmentation. 

The other major challenge for the comp team was working up the look dev on the comets and debris trails. The Honda dream spots always have a fantasy feel to them we needed to design something that felt real yet was true to the dream language - so we went through extensive concept design and look development for the FX. 

The post was 3 weeks after turn over of the final edit. The spot had a team of about 8 people working on it. "We are constantly trying to find better ways to manage commercial projects and timelines. All of the asset and shot management was done using our-in house project management system, Grunt, which was authored by our chief pipeline TD Chris Gardener" explained Alt Producer and co-founder Takeshi Takada. 


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