Smith & Foulkes direct simply charming animated short film Hands for Honda

Nexus' animation directors Smith & Foulkes have followed their creation of idents they created for use on Channel 4 with a short film that applies similar techniques to some of Honda's motoring history.

The two-minute film, Hands, features miniature versions of some of Honda's inventions – including cars, motorbikes and robots – with clever animation making the transition between each invention appear seamless. Subtle extras such as exhaust fumes, tiny fish and a little rabbit, add to the charm of the film. 

This is not the first time the duo has worked with Honda. They also created the award-winning Grrr spot for Honda, as well as This Unpredictable Life in 2011.

"We didn't want this to be stop frame in feel," said Smith & Foulkes when talking about their latest Honda project. "We wanted to deliver Wieden & Kennedy's idea in its simplest and most direct form with no cuts and in close up… even though that was the most difficult thing to achieve."

Smith & Foulkes chose to use wooden models and a video camera in order to plan out how to achieve the fluid animation seen in the final film. They worked out where the hands would need to be at the beginning and the end of each shot, and figured out what the transition from one vehicle to the next would be using these wooden models.

Physical models were used to make the movement of the hands more realistic

When it came to shooting the final film, real models were used to help bring a sense of weight and realistic movement to the film. Mike Merron from Visual FX company Analog said: "We knew from the outset that it was hugely important for the hands to physically hold, grip and inspect 'something' as it would immediately ground the spot in reality. Our initial tests showed how important it was to have articulated props."

The 25 models were also created in Max and Maya by Visual FX teams Nexus Productions and Analog. Analog also took on the assembly of the multiple shots, removing props, tracking the objects, adding shade and light and rendering, as well as the FX animation, compositing and the grading.

Nexus provided the character animations and the subtle physical secondary movements of the objects. Nexus said that this was a "unique production challenge" and "one of the most intriguing briefs" it has ever been set. Factory and Siren were the teams behind the soundscape used in the film.

Update: This story has been updated as we've been informed that despite the branding on some of the stills we were sent and the description of the film as 'idents', it (or parts of it) isn't going to be used as idents around Honda's sponsorship of Channel 4's documentaries.


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