Toyota Camry “City” (2006/1:00)

Toyota Camry
“The Car That Reads The Road”


This campaign for the Australian market was an amazing opportunity for Brand New School: First off, shooting cars was extremely exciting because we were well versed in complex choreographies between camera and objects after doing impossible things in CG for years. Second, the idea for this project involved typography, and it’s pretty safe to say that there weren’t many directors working out there with more pedigree in typography and type design than us.

The basic premise of the campaign is that the highly evolved new Toyota Camry can “read the road”, with its many computer-controlled features including rain and light sensors, ABS, VSC, EBD, VDM etc. The agency looked at H5’s legendary Alex Gopher video and suggested that there was something else that could be done with that idea — which is where we came in. Together, we developed the concept of shooting complete plates with the car on a location and then, step by step, replacing whatever is necessary to tell the story with words.

Wellington was chosen very early on for obvious reasons: An eclectic city, wild natural beauty and great crews. Plus, they drive on the left side of the street. When searching for locations and blocking and framing shots, we frequently experienced a mild sensation of dyslexia: Not only did we have to watch continuity in a world where (to us) everything is the wrong way around, we also had to make sure that the (at that point imaginary) type would be legible depending on what direction the cars and the camera are moving.

We stayed a total of three weeks in New Zealand, starting with six days of location scouting. Four shooting days were spent in Wellington, where we shut down down town for a Sunday. Then we moved out into the country to the rolling green hills of Wairarapa, and the seaside at Ngawi, where we wrapped the production with one helicopter day.

My co-director Jonathan Notaro then went back to New York City for post production, where the most interesting challenge was to design the type. We ended up designing just one custom-made alphabet for all the cars, but made all sorts of letter-like shapes for everything else. We made fun letters looking like buildings, trees, clouds, leaves and birds. We made letters carved into a cliff, and a flock of sheep forming a sentence. None of it could have been achieved with off-the-shelf fonts.


Client: Toyota Australia
Agency: Mojo Publicis, Sydney

Shot on location in New Zealand

Production Company: Brand New School, New York
Director: Jens Gehlhaar
Director: Jonathan Notaro
Director of Photography: Chris White
Production (New Zealand): Cherokee Films, Auckland

Post Production: Brand New School, New York
Creative Director : Jonathan Notaro
Technical Director: Dickson Chow
Flame Artist: Blake Huber
Compositors: Irene Park, Ben Jin Tan, Jin Lee, Jose Fuentes, Amber Kusmenko
Rotoscopers: Tonya Smay, Brendan Smith, Connie Conrad, Shana Silberberg, Anca Risa
Designers: Keetra Dixon, Danny Ruiz, Eric Adolfsen, Ludovic Schorno
3D Artists: Ylli Orana, Jordan Bilt, Mike Papagni, Helen Choi, Kyle Cassidy, Kitty Lin, Kim Kehoe, Matt Connolly, Tony Barbeiri, Sung Kim, Doug Vitarelli, Ho Sik Nam
Concept Artist: Ronald Kuraiawan
Producer: Amanda Slamin

Editorial: Geordie Anderson, Blue Rock, New York

Music: New Order, “Age of Consent”