Digital Domain and Director Carl Erik Rinsch Make Art for Audi
September 16, 2009

Digital Domain and Director Carl Erik Rinsch Make Art for Audi

Venice, Calif. - Digital Domain has teamed up with longtime collaborator Carl Erik Rinsch and his German production company Markenfilm on a :45 TV commercial for Audi, via Hamburg, Germany-based ad agency Kempertrautmann. The digital production studio designed a complex visual device that represents Audi's new tagline, "Efficient-Technology, intelligently combined." The spot, titled "Intelligently Combined," showcases the Audi A4 2.0 TDI e and first aired Sept. 4, 2009 in Spain and will roll out across Europe.
"Intelligently Combined" opens on a minimalist museum space. Hanging in the middle of the spacious room is a clear glass cube divided into multiple sections like a Rubik's Cube puzzle. Various automobile parts are encased within the sections, which begin to rotate and shift, releasing pistons, gears, bolts, and other parts from their compartments. They drop and fall into place with other Audi parts, joining together to form the fully realized Audi A4 2.0 TDI e featured at the end of the spot--the only live-action portion of the otherwise entirely CG commercial.

Image Courtesy of Digital Domain

Directors and agencies have tapped Digital Domain for its expertise in modeling and animating highly complex, detailed, and photo-real mechanical imagery. However, the team, led by visual effects supervisor Jay Barton, still faced the creative challenge of designing and orchestrating the complicated movements of the cube, which had to build an Audi piece by piece as the puzzle was "solved."

Image Courtesy of Digital Domain

"The original creative brief was that the entire car would be diced up as if it had been put through a giant bread slicer," says Barton. "As the cube solved, we would see the jumbled car sections become more and more recognizable until the entire car was formed. In discussions with Carl, it was decided to not cut the car up in an unnatural way but rather to assemble it from real individual car parts as realistically as possible. This meant that instead of lining up car parts next to each other and having an entire car magically become whole, we needed to design a delivery system to move parts and subsections from cube to cube. Having everything based on gravity and inertia allowed us to facilitate parts joining by dropping or sliding together which led to entire systems coming together such as engine and transmission."

Digital Domain paid extra attention to ensure the parts would fit together as seamlessly and logically as they would in real life, despite the fact that the futuristic Rubik's Cube was grounded more in fantasy than reality. "We had a few discussions with the engineers at Audi regarding how everything would fit together," adds Barton. "The further we went along in our animation tests, the build process became guided by the actual construction sequence as it happens at the Audi factory. Our team met with two factory-trained technicians from Audi who broke down a full engine, transmission and headlight assembly for us, laying everything out on a table so we could ask questions and take reference photographs."

Barton and his team also did extensive look development, trying out 10 different room environments and lighting scenarios before deciding upon a look that felt accurately majestic and grand, as if the space was built specifically to show off this event. It was also important that the room be strong enough structurally to hold up the cube, its cables, and the control mechanisms that make the whole "kinetic installation art piece" work.

Barton oversaw a team of eight 3D artists, four compositors, two rotoscoping artists and two motion trackers over the course of eight weeks.

PRODUCT: "Intelligently Combined"

ADVERTISING AGENCY: kempertrautmann GmbH
Creative Direction: Gerrit Zinke, Jens Theil, Florian Weber, Tobias Ahrens,
Sönke Busch
Art Direction: Florian Schimmer, Simon Jasper Philipp
Agency Producer: Ruth Jansen
Strategic Planner: Nils Wollny
Account Managers: Andrea Bison, Niklas Kruchten
Team Assistant: Jan Rütten

Director: Carl Erik Rinsch
Director or Photography: Martin Ruhe
Head of Production: Katie Stiebel
Assistant Producer: Ruth Perk
Production Manager: Christopher Manz

President of Commercials, Executive Producer: Ed Ulbrich
Executive Producer / Head of Production: Karen Anderson
Visual Effects Supervisor: Jay Barton
Visual Effects Producer: Chris Fieldhouse
CG Supervisor: Ronald D. Herbst
Visual Effects Coordinator: Stephanie Escobar
Sr. Flame Artist: David Stern
Flame Artist: Matthew J.D. Bramante
Editor: Russ Glasgow
Previs: David Rosenbaum
Animators: Simon Dunsdon, Adrian Dimond
Digital Artists: Tim Jones, Chris Norpchen, David Liu, Masa Narita
Sr. Compositor: Rafael F. Colón
Nuke Compositors: Jacqueline Cooper, Sven Dreesbach
Roto Artists: Hilery Johnson Copeland, Karin Last
Integration Tracker: Peter Herlein

Composer: Thomas Süss

Mixers: Wenke Kleine - Benne, Stefan Lügger