Screengrab: Honda "Yearbooks" 60. Image courtesy of a52

a52 turn back time in Honda's "Yearbooks" Big Game spot

Last modification: 14 Sep, 2017
Duration
7 mins

"The hardest part was thoroughly artistic and impossible to quantify: When you look at any random frame, do you feel the actor in it? It isn’t any one thing; it is a million little things that make it look right...

In the end, the hope is that people don’t think about all the work that went into it, and just enjoy the spot. It will mean we’ve done our job!"

- a52’s "Yearbooks" team


We spent some time early in the process and shot footage with our VFX Supervisor, Urs as the subject to test workflow and methodology as well as IO between Flame and Maya. Technically the tests were a success, but we’re never going to be able to look at Urs the same way again!

One of the highlights of this job is that from the beginning, it was a great collaboration between Flame and Maya, both from an artist perspective and from a technical one. Our collaboration started from day one, in stand-in casting. We scanned through all potentials together, selected options based on how accurate of a resemblance we could see, as well as how ‘malleable’ they would be in compositing and 3D.


"…it was a great collaboration between Flame and Maya, both from an artist perspective and from a technical one."

 


From a technical standpoint, the collaboration went even deeper. Animated meshes were shared between the two freely, and Flame artists unwrapped the UVs and made adjustments on flat textures from within Flame, while Maya artists refined animation and textures in 3D. The idea of using the best tool for each particular task is a great notion, but it’s not always possible. The fast-paced, iterative and ever-evolving nature of this job meant that we had to keep things Flame-centric and always malleable. We wanted the artists to have the flexibility to adjust on the fly without always having to rely on other software. Using a pixel-spread node to unwrap the faces based on an Alembic chained to the animation was perfect.


"All of the faces ended up being a blend between 2D and 3D, some relying more heavily on one or another."



All of the faces ended up being a blend between 2D and 3D, some relying more heavily on one or another. But several of the faces needed to be replaced entirely, which necessitated the creation of full 3D photoreal faces. The hardest part was thoroughly artistic and impossible to quantify: When you look at any random frame, do you feel the actor in it? It isn’t any one thing; it is a million little things that make it look right. Add to that the actors being extremely recognizable, and that we had to “de-age” them back to their younger selves but still keep the essence of who they are now; it was quite a challenge, to say the least. 


"The ability to retime a camera track based on a timewarp is a lifesaver! We also went in and adjusted animation and meshes in Maya all the way to the end."



The shots were revisited and tweaked until the very moment of delivery, so we didn’t want to back ourselves into a corner regarding timings and edits early on. With the timewarp node in Flame being able to correlate to edit timecodes meant we didn’t have to change plates and could keep a lot of our work live. Having the ability to retime a camera track based on a timewarp is a lifesaver! We also went in and adjusted animation and meshes in Maya all the way to the end. We did post animation correctives to get every last detail and spent hours making tiny tweaks, trying to get the face shapes just right. 

Working in visual effects is something we all do because we’re passionate about it. It’s a tough field to get into if you don’t enjoy what you do. Honda’s Yearbooks spot was one of those very, very challenging jobs, but we loved every minute of it. In the end, the hope is that people don’t think about all the work that went into it, and just enjoy the spot. It will mean we’ve done our job!



Thank you to a52 for sharing your story with us. For more from a52, see Game of Thrones' evolving title and Florence and the Machine's, The Odyssey.


Honda "Yearbooks" Credits



VFX Studio: a52 
VFX Supervisor - Urs Furrer
2D Artists - Brendan Crockett, Enid Dalkoff, Andy Davis, Richard Hirst, Michael Plescia, Andy McKenna, Patrick Murphy, Matt Sousa, Kevin Stokes, Michael Vaglienty, Steve Wolff, Cam Coombs
Roto Artist - Tiffany Germann
CG Supervisor - Adam Newman
On Set CG Supervisor - Andy Wilkoff
On Set 3D Scanning Services - Scanable
Head of 3D - Kirk Shintani
Modeling - Jamin Lackie, Jessica Hurst, Jose Limon, Rie Ito
Color & Lighting - Josephine Kahng, Richard Daniels, Jon Balcome
Michael Kirylo, Wendy Klein
Animation - Michael Relth, Abel Salazar, Brooke Shay, Sam Ortiz
Stephanie Russel, Richard DeForno
Rigging - Adam Carter, Josh Dyer, Christina Grunauer, Tracking Joe Chiechi,
Michael Bettinardi, Michael Cardenas
Dynamics - Jun Kim, Miguel Salek Suarez, Joao Rosa
Generalists - Aemelia Widodo, Paulo Mauro, Dustin Mellum
Colorist - Paul Yacono
Color Assistant - Chris Reilly
Online Editors - Dan Ellis, Gabe Sanchez
Head of Production - Kim Christensen
Executive Producer - Patrick Nugent
Managing Director - Linda Carlson, Jennifer Sofio Hall


Production Company: Elastic
Director - Angus Wall 
Director of Photography - Simon Duggan `
Live Action Producer - Kathy Rhodes 
Production Supervisor - Will Vudmaska 
Production Designer - Deborah Evans 
Stylist - Suna Kwak 
Key Makeup - Pamela Neal 
Art Director - Leanne Dare 
Designer(s) - Pete Sickbert Bennett, Heidi Berg, Erika Bird, Lynn Cho, Henry DeLeon 
Senior Producer - Andrin Mele-Shadwick 
Producers - Danny Hirsch, Ashley Hsieh, Paul Makowski 
Managing Directors - Linda Carlson, Jennifer Sofio Hall 


Agency: RPA 
Joe Baratelli, EVP, CCO
Jason Sperling, SVP, ECD
Alicia Dotter Marder, VP, Creative Director / Copy
Sarah May Bates Creative Director / Copy
Brent Singe, Creative Director / Art
Mike Van Linda, Creative Director / Copy
Bruna Gonzalez, Associate Creative Director / Art
Andrew Mellen, Associate Creative Director
Gary Paticoff SVP, Chief Production Officer
Isadora Chesler, VP, Executive Producer
Angela Pascal, Producer
Jessica Shepard, Production Coordinator
Eden Park, Production Coordinator
Maria Del Homme, V.P., Director of Business Affairs
Brett Bender, EVP / Management Account Director
Adam Blankenship, VP / Group Account Director
Cathy O'Gorman, VP / Management Supervisor
Teresa Christovich, Account Supervisor
Christina Contreras, Account Executive
Nicole Hansen, Assistant Account Executive

Tags
  • Flame
  • Maya
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