Responses by Fx Goby, Nexus Studios, director
Background: This project is very unusual because it doesn’t advertise a product for sale, but rather something going out of production. The Volkswagen Beetle is probably the most recognizable and most iconic car ever; it has touched millions of people across history and culture in ways no other object has. We wanted to offer a heartfelt goodbye film that everyone could relate to. We knew the one-minute thirty-second short film had to be as poignant as the car’s importance in culture.
Reasoning: Immediately, I felt like the film shouldn’t look like the usual sleek car commercial. The story needed to be personal, focused on the intimate bond somebody might have had with the car through her or his entire life, and then expand to a much broader and diverse group of people. I wanted the audience to relate to the feeling the old man has, when seeing his life companion fly away into the distance.
Challenges: The excruciating timeline! We had six weeks from writing to delivery, and I wanted to use rotoscoping, an animation technique that consists of filming the whole film and redrawing on top of the live action footage frame by frame. Rotoscoping allows for a controlled art directed feel while making it tactile and handcrafted. Having this approachable look was key, especially for such a popular car. But this meant doing the film twice! We had two weeks to prepare for a five-day shoot in Uruguay where we also edited the film, followed by four weeks to animate it all—with a total of 1080 individual illustrated frames!
Favorite details: How the film feels and looks. We made no compromise in the art direction of the film. My dear friend and fellow Nexus director Manshen Lo did the art direction and I am super proud that we managed to have such an illustrative feel with bold color palettes. It is quite rare to be able to do that, especially on a high stakes film like this one.
Visual influences: We wanted to nail an illustrative look and worked on every frame holding up as a standalone illustration. I also wanted the film to have a cinematic and low-key indie feel, so I worked closely on the live action production with director of photography Fernando Lorenzale, who embraced the handheld camera angles to achieve this.
Specific demands: It’s always tricky to work with celebrities because it makes the approval process much longer. We were already under a very tight timeline! But imagine having to add animated celebrities, some long gone, others well alive, with no reference footage and making sure they look the part to stand out and blend in the crowd as well. Fortunately, it worked out in the end!