The HONDA CIVIC MONSTER

Honda / Rubin Postaer & Associates Los Angeles

Teenie meets a daily monster, part of the Honda “super civic quest” of 2011

In the spring of 2011 Honda introduced a new campaign for the Honda Civic. Entitled “To Each Their Own” it featured five characters for five new Civic models, all of who were part of a giant online scavenger hunt: the Woodsman, the Ninja, the Zombie, the Luchador, and Teenie the Monster. You can guess where I entered the picture.

Teenie was created by the Jim Henson creature shop. And the good people at Honda’s ad agency RPA felt that she should get to know one of my Monsters. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.

From a technical standpoint, the notable thing about this clip is that I superimposed my writing hand over animated Monster bits, so I had to teach myself to rotoscope in After Effects. Rotoscoping being the process where you trace the outline of an element in the frame, i.e. my hand, to create a matte that isolates it from its background. The main thing I learned in the process is that rotoscoping is unbelievably tedious work! Next time you look at some special effects movie, give a kind thought to the poor people who rotoscope for a living.

Of course, there were a number of approvals that had to come from the ad agency and from the people at Honda. None of it was a problem, except for one thing. At the last minute somebody sent a note saying, “Hey, you’re gonna remove the Faber-Castell logo from the pens, right?” Had I known this before filming I’d have put a piece of black tape over the logo. Or I’d have spent 20 seconds scratching the logo off the pens with an Xacto blade. This way I was able to put my new After Effects to good use, removing the logo frame by frame by frame by frame by frame by frame by frame… Another excellent entry for the ever growing “before I start” checklist.

Grousing aside, I was excited to have one of my Monsters next to a Henson creature as part of a cool ad campaign.

As a side note, people always ask me what kind of pens I use to create the Monsters. Clearly, they think there is some kind of magic in the pen itself. Which there isn’t. Unless when there is. There are specific tools for particular jobs. I spent many of my teenage years banging my head against the wall, for example, trying and failing to achieve large areas of flat black before somebody told me that there is such a thing as a fat-nibbed marker. And once I got those into my arsenal it took another five years to learn about marker paper that keeps the ink from bleeding all over the place. 

If you get the chance, check out the Davis Guggenheim documentary, “It Might Get Loud.” At one point Jack White and The Edge ask Jimmy Page about the Led Zeppelin song “Kashmir.” Page tells them that he tuned the guitar an entirely different way to get that sound. Without that bit of information you’re not going to get there. Well, with my Monsters, they’d work with just about any pen, and I use the cheapest paper. There really isn’t a secret tool. (Except for that one thing, of course, but you’ll have to jump to the main entry about the Daily Monster to read about that.)


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