For the latest installment of Raconteur’s ongoing STORYTELLERS interview series, we spoke with PSYOP directors Georgia Tribuiani and Laurent Ledru. The duo recently embarked on their first co-directing collaboration, a 60-second action movie-turned-slice of life aptly demonstrating the necessity of the 2018 Honda Odyssey’s sliding-seat technology.
In the spot “Keep The Peace,” our two little “angels” inspire an imaginative flight of fancy. Live action mixes with hyper-real VFX as a pair of impressively rendered creatures take each other on in a clever depiction of every parent’s headache: two tykes battling it out for backseat supremacy.
Ledru: Telling a complete and compelling story in such a short amount of time is what makes commercial advertising so interesting. That challenge is what keeps me motivated and creatively passionate about each project.
Tribuiani: The opportunity to work with interesting creative – every board and script is different and a chance to push boundaries. From concept to problem-solving, it’s crucial to find the right balance and elements of excitement to deliver the strongest quality work.
The new Honda spot “Keep The Peace” out of RPA is your first official collaboration, is that correct?
Ledru: We have known each other for about seven years, but this was our first co-directing job!
Tell us more about the creative process. How did you collaborate as a team, what did each of you bring to the table?
Tribuiani: We come from different backgrounds and the scope of our work and experience is broad and varied. This was a perfect project because our different point of views as storytellers complemented one another.
Ledru: Our creative process was very organic, from start to finish. From the brainstorming to the shoot and through post, there was always a good energy.
What did you enjoy most about your first collaboration?
Tribuiani: We were really excited about the script. As directors the original script resonated with us, and as parents we could relate to the story. We found a great partner in the RPA creative team, being so enthusiastic and supportive of our ideas.
Ledru: Being able to develop the personality of the monsters and the parents was very exciting. The parallel between monsters and kids was a very clever idea… When the monsters tell the simple story of a struggle over a toy, it becomes unexpected and larger-than-life.
The photo-real monsters are so dynamic. How did you go about crafting them?
Ledru: We wanted the nuance of real creatures that had blood pulsing through their veins, with anthropomorphic gestures, expressions and movements. The monsters were designed to look like brother and sister. They have certain traits that show that one is male and the other is female – like relative size, coloring, physicality, and sounds.
Tribuiani: We immediately started brainstorming around the behavior of kids and their typical interactions – jealousy, irrationality, frustration, curiosity – and figuring out how that would translate in into two monsters fighting in a city.
Tell us about the Easter eggs you planted…
Ledru: With the initial misdirect, the opening of the spot feels like an epic monster movie. We included little touches of the backseat world as Easter eggs for the viewer to catch during the second or third viewing.
Tribuiani: The way the pink monster plays with the tree resembles the way a child eats broccoli…in that children don’t usually actually eat it – they smell it and then throw it away.
Ledru: The way the beasts are fighting – pushing faces, grabbing things abruptly, putting the toy bus in their mouths. This all comes together in the “a-ha moment” when the earth splits and we transition into the backseat world where the warring kids are being split apart.
Tribuiani: We loved the idea of the parents (the SWAT team) being peacekeepers between the monsters. So we added some additional lines of dialogue to the script to play with the parents’ dynamic, like when they attempt the tactic of ‘making a distraction’ and when the father says “We’re warning you….”
How were you able to integrate CG into the live action sequences so seamlessly?
Ledru: For the live action shoot, we used sweeping overhead wide shots to give it an epic scale, intercut with boots-on-the-ground footage to get different POVs of the “carnage.”
Tribuiani: DP Jess Hall was the perfect partner. He shot the film Ghost In The Shell, which is a heavily integrated CG movie. Jess has such an in-depth understanding of how to shoot live action so that it can be combined seamlessly with CG, and was able to give the car the beautiful visual treatment it deserves.
Ledru: We paid close attention to the shadows and reflections, which helped us to integrate the CG animation into the scenes by giving the animated elements a three dimensional quality.
What was the most challenging?
Ledru: Given the fact that we had so many larger monster shots to deal with, we had quite a task to make all the shots feel like they are all in the same world. Working with Psyop’s talented 2D Supervisor/Compositors made the whole process more fluid.
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PSYOP Director Georgia Tribuiani has collaborated with major brands including Toyota, Nationwide, Samsung, Apple and Target. This is the first co-directing project with Laurent Ledru, who has worked on a wide range of content for clients such as Xbox, Samsung, Jack Daniel’s, Chevy and Norton.