Honda Takes a Rollicking Ride in Vehicles From the Past 73 Years

Amid supply shortage, automaker touts innovation

Imagine driving through a fantastical desert, humming along with 100 classic cars, trucks, cycles, boats and planes from Honda's storied 73-year history.

A 1949 Dream-Type motorbike rumbles through the dunes, while Honda's S600—its first passenger sedan, from 1964—glides across the sand. Suddenly, a RA272 Formula 1 racer, circa 1965, zips past, as a HondaJet Elite S—launched in 2018—zooms overhead.

RPA, Elastic director Paul Mitchell and VFX house A52 stage such scenes in a :60 called "Origin of Determination." Narrated by John Cena, and set to a high-octane remix of Verdi's "La Traviata, Act I" by Superhuman, the film sleekly combines live-action, animation and archival photos, taking viewers on a ride to remember.

Honda – The Origin of Determination

"Honda has a unique story to tell related to the incredible depth and breadth of vehicles we offer for the land, sea and sky," Jessika Laudermilk, senior manager of marketing for American Honda Motor Co., tells Muse. "We wanted to create a bold moment to help people understand that every product is engineered and designed to make the lives of our customers better."

Honda drew on its history a few years back in somewhat similar fashion. This latest trek through time, however, arrives amid a global microchip shortage that leaves some showrooms short stocked. With demand already elevated, it probably makes sense to take the high-road, highlighting brand heritage in lieu of pitching specific models that consumers might struggle to find.

Below, RPA creative director Sarah May Bates and associate creative director Matthew Pullen discuss the project in detail:

50 pros in the driver's seat

"The production took a little over four months from start to finish and required extensive, around-the-clock work from a team of over 50 VFX artists. To create the concept required extensive research of several hundred Honda vehicles spanning their 73-year history.

"With over 100 products spanning various categories, eras and locations, recreating them using CGI and visual effects was the most effective way to gather all these products together in one commercial. From just a logistical perspective, moving this number of vehicles to various locations would be next to impossible—especially considering some of these vehicles are one-of-a-kind and have been historically preserved in museums for years. So, the production approach had to be multifaceted—requiring a combination of meticulously crafted CGI, LiDAR scans, live-action footage, reference plate photography and historical reference imagery."

From the Mojave to Namibia

"Environmental plates and elements were shot in the dunes and coastline of Namibia, and our talent interactions were captured in El Mirage Lake in the Mojave Desert. A team of artists and technicians from around the globe worked remotely to make this dream real."

Details, details, details

"We often joked about the never-ending spreadsheets because of how much research, vetting and attention to detail was needed on so many diverse vehicles. Not only did we have to ensure we were using historically accurate engine sounds and driving dynamics, we also had to ensure we were portraying the right kinds of drivers. We consulted with historians on several occasions. Even though the spot features over 100 of the most famous Honda vehicles, we know this is only the tip of the iceberg, as Honda is still bringing so many new innovations into the world."


CLIENT: American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Senior Manager, Honda Marketing: Jessika Laudermilk
Manager, Honda National Advertising: Hundy Liu
Assistant Manager, Honda National Advertising: Robin Podell

EVP/Chief Creative Officer: Joe Baratelli
VP/Group Creative Director: Ken Pappanduros
VP/Creative Director: Sarah May Bates
Associate Creative Director/Art Director: Matthew Pullen
EVP/Chief Production Officer: Gary Paticoff
SVP/Director, Video Production: Selena Pizarro
Senior Producer: Ryan Radley
Senior Producer: Angela Pascal
Senior Producer: Jenn Pearse
Video Production Coordinator: Will Conover
VP/Executive Producer: John Seput
VP/Director, Business Affairs: Maria Del'Homme
EVP/Chief Client Officer and Director of Operations: Brett Bender
SVP/Executive Account Director: Fern McCaffrey
VP/Account Director: Jane LoSasso
VP/Management Supervisor: Jacob Gentry
Account Supervisor: Christina Contreras
Senior Account Executive: Kelly Hu


Spoon Films (El Mirage)
Director of Photography: Tobia Sempi
Line Producer: Maureen Tunney
Executive Producer: David Wolfson

Gatehouse Films (Namibia)
Director of Photography: Rory O'Grady
Line Producer: Karin Tanchel
Unit Production Manager: Laila Shrand
Executive Producer: Karin Tanchel

DESIGN: Elastic
Creative Director: Paul Mitchell
Designers: Kaya Thomas, Min Shi Haram Jung
Storyboard Artist: Vince Wei


VFX Supervisor: Andy McKenna
CG Supervisor: Kirk Shintani
Lead Flame Artist: Steve Wolff
Compositors: Adam Flynn, Michael Vaglienty, Rod Basham, Andres Barrios, Stefan Gaillot
Flame Artists: Kevin Stokes, Ujala Saini, John Valle, Chris Riley
3D Artists: Andy Wilkoff, Aemilia Widodo, Alvara Segura, Bryan Cox, Chris Clyne, Derek Friesenborg, Dustin Mellum, Jade Smrz, Jerry Weil, Joao Rosa, Joe Chiechi, Joe Paniagua, Joey Bettinardi, Jose Limon, Josh Dyer, Jun Kim, Michael Bettinardi, Miguel A Salek, Mike Oakley, Ryan Chong, Samir Lyons, Scott Nishiki, Tim Kadowaki, Weiyo Sha, Ziyan Zhang, Phiphat Pinysophon
Digital Matte Painter: Whitman Lindstrom
3D Image Scanning: Scanable (United States)

Black Ginger (Namimbia)
Producer: James Howell
Production Coordinator: Shane Hoffman
Head of Production: Stacy Kessler-Aungst
Head of CG Production: Michael Steinmann
Executive Producers: Patrick Nugent, Kim Christensen
Managing Director: Jennifer Sofio Hall

COLOR: Primary
Colorist: Gregory Reese
Color Assistant: Corey Martinez
Color Producer: Jenny Bright
Executive Producer: Thatcher Peterson

Editors: Doron Dor, Pascal Leister
Assistant Editor: Emily Morgan
Producer: James Howell

MIX: Lime Studios
Audio Mixer/Sound Design: Dave Wagg
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

MUSIC SUPERVISION:  Good Ear Music Supervision
Music Supervisors: Andrew Kahn, Marielle Jade Te

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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