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A52 Exposes Nissan Maxima

Visual effects and design company A52 recently completed visual effects and CGI work for RSA USA and director Adrian Moat for Nissan Maxima's "Paint Remover," which illustrates the speed of the Maxima automobile in a surprising way. Conceived by TBWAChiatDay's project art director Jason Stinsmuehlen and copywriters Eric Grunbaum and Neil Hughlett, the concept of the spot was a new Nissan Maxima races through the desert so fast that its paint completely peels away. Storyboards presented to A52 indicated the paint coming off in flecks, but how that would look was unclear to the creative team. A52, led by Simon Brewster, stepped in to create and deliver a 3D test to illustrate their ideas of how the paint should come off. Using a wireframe model provided by Nissan, A52's CGI team of Denis Gauthier, Westley Sarokin and Jeff Willette used Side Effects Software's Houdini plus 3D Equalizer, Deep Paint 3D and Renderman to execute their ideas fully. By combining a 3D version of the car with the live-action footage, the 3D model's black paint could be stripped away to reveal the unpainted car. To achieve the final effects, six picture cars were photographed, including one that was dipped in acid to remove its paint and then hand-sanded. The camera angles included helicopter, motorcycle and car mounts and cameras were shaken to heighten the aggressive feel of the footage. From there, a large part of the job was tracking the car. "We shot the car with tracking points all over it, so [A52] tracked the wireframe onto the 2D to get all the lenses to match," explained Stinsmuehlen. "Just tracking it took, I think, two weeks." After tracking the wireframe onto the 2D, the team had an exact match to the live-action cut from Rock Paper Scissors editor Angus Wall. "[A52] developed an approach to make the paint come off the car where the CG particles go into the air," Stinsmuehlen continued, "Then they delivered the paint coming off to Simon Brewster, who composited it into 2D in Inferno, where he had total control over the look He then basically blended the 3D car into all the 2D." A52 previous collaboration with TBWAChiatDay includes the American Automobile Association Award-winning campaign for Infiniti Q45 and the 2002 Nissan Altima campaign. Additional credits for A52 include executive producer Darcy Leslie Parsons and managing director Rick Hassen; producer Ron Cosentino; on-set visual effects supervisors Michael Gibson; Inferno artist Marguerite Cargill; and Henry artist and online editor Scott Johnson.