Check out this amazing 'virtually frozen' spot for Honda by Johnny Hardstaff and MPC

Integrated CG and complex filming techniques deliver visually stunning spot for RSA and W+K's Honda Civic campaign


We've become used to Honda ads offering high-tech imagery with strong visual impact. This one is no less stunning.

However Johnny Hardstaff's innovative spot for Honda's Civic campaign offers an alternative, 'natural' view, abetted by highly integrated VFX by MPC.

In this lushly-filmed commercial, directed by Hardstaff through RSA films and conceived by Wieden+Kennedy, Honda technicians augment 'the perfect driving experience'.

Using complex filming techniques to create the virtually frozen look, the 60-second spot and corresponding 20-second cutdowns for each car showcase Honda’s full Civic Range.

“The trick with this Honda project was to deliver a sense of technology but with real warmth and originality," explained Hardstaff. "To get there we had to be particularly original with how we created our images. This meant once again doing things that are generally inadvisable."

"I repurposed the hi-speed Bolt rig as a more portable motion control set-up and dragged it up a mountain, to a remote Spanish village and onto a Madrid motorway at night," he added. "This is in no sense a good idea, but what it gave us were fascinating results, shooting natural phenomena in unnatural ways, all of which then needed extensive processing and reworking by MPC."


The director continued: "I love a complex, layered head scratcher of a project as much as the team I love to work with at MPC. This one kept us engaged to the very end. "

"Led by Dionne Archibald, Adam Crocker and Anthony Bloor , MPC ate it up with great flair and ingenuity, diligently crushing each creative challenge one by one, " added Hardstaff. "In fact MPC’s VFX team handled the integration of 3D CGI with such a deft and nuanced touch that the end result is misleadingly simple and natural, this in itself every bit a testament to what is their great film craft.”

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MPC worked closely with Hardstaff and the production team, shooting the cars at 1000 frames per second on a bespoke Bolt camera rig, and separately shooting engineers and backdrops at 25 fps before marrying the two.

The 3D team created multiple elements, from dirt and vapour, through to the train and elegant butterfly.

In absence of the Type R car - which was yet to be created – MPC built it in CG from scratch.


Engineers enter a paused driving scenario and heighten it in the spot, augmenting it to perfect the experience.

CG lasers were created for the opening sequence, with the blossom placed on the path of the lasers to amplify the billowing cloud of petals behind the Sport.

“Creating the virtually frozen look involved stitching a huge number of plates together, as well as marrying live action and matte painted backgrounds with multiple CG elements," revealed VFX Supervisor Adam Crocker.


The scenes with the Blue Tourer car were captured on up to 10 different plates, with added CG lasers, vapour and numerous bespoke plates.

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"Using the Bolt camera rig allowed us to shoot multiple motion control plates at hugely disparate frame rates," explained Crocker. "This meant the VFX team could integrate real time engineers into the virtually frozen scenes and cars, that were in some instances actually moving at 30-40mph."

"We had a lot of fun with Johnny and the team at W+K, developing a logic to the engineer's interaction with these frozen environments, and where real time transitioned into frozen time. ”


Towards the end of the spot there is city scene, capturing a close up the Red Type R.  

This shot was created completely in CG, with added water splashes, reflections and CG wire poles in the background.