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Ring of Fire Helps Suzuki’s New Verona and XL-7 SUV Enjoy the Ride

In two noteworthy spots by ad agency Colby & Partners, the artists at Ring of Fire completed graphics, CGI and design work for two new Suzuki spots titled, BIG ON STYLE and FAMILY ADVENTURE. Featuring the new Verona mid-size sedan and the XL-7 SUV, Colby & Partners called on the expertise of Coppos director Jeffrey Karoff and Ring of Fire artists to execute the spots, which contain billboards and signs that highlight the features and attributes of these new vehicles.

Shot over the 4th of July weekend, BIG ON STYLE begins with a handsome couple cruising through midtown Manhattan in their elegant new Suzuki Verona. Set to the Rod Stewarts classic ballad The Way You Look Tonight, big-screen electronic billboards provide the narration for the spot. They showcase the style, room and wide range of features for the sedan. The spot ends with the couple stepping out of the car in front of a nightclub. As they walk past the velvet ropes on to the red carpet, they pass under a large sign with an electronic crawl that repeats the tagline: Congratulations You Made the Smart Move.

In FAMILY ADVENTURE, a family of five tours the famous highway in their Suzuki XL-7 to the tune of the song Route 66. As they journey past different landmarks, the road signs and billboards ingeniously spell out the SUVs attributes. The spot ends with a shot of the family continuing down the highway, traveling past a sign displaying the tagline: Congratulations You Made the Smart Move. Behind them, XL-7 is spelled out in clouds, backed by a beautiful blue sky.

For the Ring of Fire vfx team, the technical challenge was to track and clean up the signage in the environment. The design challenge was to create entirely new signage that looked as if they were in the environment and also had to display the copy in a manner that seemed realistic.

We worked closely with the agency and director to carry out the concepts, which meant making sure the signs looked real and believable, said Casey Conroy, Ring of Fire vfx producer.

I didn't envy Ring of Fire's task on this job, remarks Karoff, as they had to create the custom signs that conveyed the spot's information and clean up the chaos of branding and signage that blankets midtown New York. Before we started this job, the agency creatives, Ring of Fire and I looked at some other spots that had taken on the same problem and we learned that if it's done wrong, suddenly the city looks too manicured -- not at all like the place we recognize. The Suzuki signs are beautifully designed and executed yet the overall look of the square is still maintained. Many people who watch the spot ask me how we coordinated the signage to trigger as we passed -- the ultimate compliment to Ring of Fire.

To prepare for FAMILY ADVENTURE, Ring of Fire studied reference books on Route 66 to ensure they maintained accurate designs of roadside signage that was consistent with the classic highway.

The most challenging part of this spot was to introduce the clients copy in a Route 66 environment and make it appear as though they were photographed, adds Conroy. We took existing objects and augmented them with CGI in a seamless way so it looks like theyre all built in the background.

Ring of Fire's arsenal of tools used on the Suzuki campaign included Quantel Henry, Discreet Logic Inferno, Maya, boujou, Photoshop Illustrator and Adobe After Effects. For FAMILY, Ring of Fire artists also completed enhancement work on the sky, road and background.

Post-production Companies: R!OT/Santa Monica, CA & Ring of Fire/West Hollywood, CAColorist: Clark Muller @ R!OTOnline editor: Paul Geiger @ Ring of Fire

Visual Effects Company: Ring of Fire/West Hollywood, CACreative director/set supervisor: Jerry SpivackExec producer: John MyersProducer: ConroyInferno artists: Danny Yoon, Todd Hemsley, Sean McLean, Clyde Beamer, Alicia AguileraHenry artist: Paul GeigerAnimators: Jeff Smith, David HovankyGraphics: Wayland Vida, Jeff Smith, Anastasia DiavatopoulosRotoscope artist: Gary Mortensen

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Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.