...I hear you. I know you would like to see the Ruby Tuesday spot online, and I am working on getting it up for you to see. Honest!
In the meantime, here's a glimpse of how I previsualized the choreography of the cars for the spot. I created an animatic using After Effects 7. I only had a few days, so I wanted to create an easy way to make some exciting car-to-car shots featuring four Mini Cooper S cars driving in tight, Blue Angels-like configuration.
What I did was create a rig that allowed me to animate a simple positioner (a null). The car would then follow the null, but with a certain amount of "slop." The suspension would bounce and sway (far too much to emulate an actual Mini, but that's creative license for you!). When I move the null to the left, the wheels steer, the car swerves, the tail kicks out, and the body rolls, all with two simple keyframes of animation. In this way I was able to quickly and painlessly animate four cars per shot and crank out 20 or 30 shots in a few days.
To capture the gritty, racing-inspired authenticity that I wanted for this spot, I looked at a lot of car chase movies, especially Ronin. One signature characteristic of Frankenheimer's amazing footage is that the camera car is experiencing the same extreme forces and duress as the car it is chasing. So I created a fifth Mini and "bolted" my After Effects camera it it, to give my animation a car-to-car photography feel.
In the movie below you can see a shot from the finished spot as it appeared in the animatic. I've extended the shot and turned off the camera car's motion so you can see the hero Mini in action. The null is represented by the little red, green and blue axis — you can see how simple its motion is compared to how lively the car is.
The cars look almost 3D, but they are in fact 2.5D, composed entirely of 2D cards in 3D space. You can see this when the wheels steer towards the camera. Why create such a complex 3D project inside After Effects? Because you can!
This animatic, cut together in Final Cut Pro, became the blueprint of our shoot, which spanned two days and involved the Ruby Tuesday bar set (with and without the actual bar in place) and four full-sized Minis. More on that later, but hopefully this fun little animation will keep the Mini owners satisfied for a little while!