RingSide Creative and Cutters Studios divisions Flavor, Cutters and Dictionary Films, have combined a hybrid design and animation style with original live-action footage for Front and Back (above).
The 30-second spot for Ford's agency Team Detroit, continues the long-running Rant Ford Trucks campaign.
"Over the past couple of years, the visual inspiration for our F-150 Rant campaign has been the work of Saul Bass," explained Brad Hensen, group creative director at Team Detroit. "We've tried to have a lot of fun with positive and negative space. We wanted to keep a sense of that visual language, but give it its own identity. Brad Tucker and his team at Ringside/Flavor/Cutters hit it perfectly. In fact, it was difficult to choose from the multiple options they provided. It was a great experience because they guided the project through every phase."
"It is a real privilege for us to have the chance to present a single, unified front to take this iconic campaign to new dimensions," said Brad Tucker, Flavor's executive creative director. "To create the look, we experimented to find new ways to marry 3D, live-action, traditional cel animation and motion graphics."
Certain technical challenges related to past Rant campaign spots factored into the creative brief.
"The bar was set very high in terms of having the graphics and the hero trucks maximise on-screen impact, and we also did a lot of work to create scene-to-scene transitions that have not been seen before," Tucker explained.
With Tucker leading the design efforts, storyboards were created by RingSide's Keith Slawinski, Nicholas Mouhot and Paul Williams. RingSide also provided VFX, project and account management support.
Dictionary Films then organised a shoot with 2015 Ford F-450 and F-250 Super Duty trucks in an LA-area quarry.
Working with director of photography Jordan Valenti, the crew used an ARRI ALEXA XT camera system on the Mercedes ML55 Edge System from Performance Filmworks, capturing footage at a variety of speeds, craning and rotating to present a multitude of shots for both truck models on different terrains.
Design and animation took place in Detroit at RingSide, with Photoshop, After Effects and Maya serving as primary production tools.
"The ability for us all to maintain close contact with Brad and the entire team throughout production was a key to this project's success," said Dave Peyton, RingSide's executive producer.
Peyton was integral in uniting the team efforts – which included more than a dozen creative artists in Detroit alone – and ensuring that work-in-progress and finished content reached Cutters editor Chris Moore as soon as possible.
"Essentially, Chris's early rough-cut became the template for each step to follow," Peyton said. "That allowed us to lock-in timings, identify our selected truck scenes and complete rough comps... and it gave our clients the confidence that we were on the right track very early on."
RingSide artists also handled final project colour, with staff colourist Rick Unger using Quantel's Pablo Rio to artistic effect.
"Each of the two Ford trucks had its own rotoscoped matte, which allowed me to manipulate in layers," he said. "While we had a tight timeline, this approach provided an efficient means for unifying the colours to maximum effect."