“This provided a set-up for a wild car chase, in which the Focus inevitably out-manouevres the characters.” Helpfully for Hatch, the team was already familiar with both the agency and the client.
“Hatch has had a great working relationship in the past with both Ford Canada and Y&R Toronto,” says Rosenman. “Last year, our Ford Fusion Book spot generated a lot of buzz. So when we were awarded Rollercoaster, everyone involved was confident we were going to make something special.”
It was obvious from the start that the spot was going to be entirely animated. “Trying to build a custom coaster to fit a car on just wasn’t in the budget,” laughs Hatch’s Randi Yaffa, the spot’s executive producer.
“It’s fair to say you couldn’t have achieved this spot using any other approach,” agrees Rosenman. Larissa Ulisko, co-director on the spot, explains the process the Hatch team followed.
“As soon as we saw the brief, we knew we wanted this project. Richard and I worked together to create some beautiful style frames. When we got the go-ahead, we did some R&D and presented a slick motion test.
"Luckily, we had a model in the studio of an ’07 Focus, so the first thing we did was get our best car guy on the model to update it and create a two-door ‘08 model. We then began really developing the characters.”
Hatch knew that, while the car’s the star of the spot, the bubble creatures that chase it would be central to the advertisement’s distinctiveness and sense of fun – not to mention a vital part of its manga heritage.
Illustrator Chris Cann says that he drew on some surprising extra sources. “The main inspiration, if I had to pick one, was Renaissance cherubs – but more like imps,” he says.
“Evil little winged creatures that have invaded my dreams ever since I returned from Italy.”
“Although [the characters] were secondary to the car, we knew that each character had to have a personality and had to be fully animated,” explains Ulisko.
“Once the characters were approved, we went ahead with modelling and rigging each one in 3D. The track was being created in tandem with the characters.”
Using Photoshop and After Effects, 3DS Max and VRay Toon, Hatch’s nine-member team then set about blending two very different animation styles. “The designs for the characters were conceptualized in a traditional 2D manner. Then they were modelled in 3D and toon-shaded,” explains Chris Cann.