In summer 2019, Honda and RPA came to Hornet to aid in the creation of a holiday sales campaign that would stand out from typical CG holiday spots. Hornet responded by enlisting the combined talents of two of our most innovative world-builders: Sam Mason and Peter Sluszka. The former is a CG whiz; the latter, a stop motion veteran. Together, they created a world for “Happy Honda Days” that was made with the most iconic and nostalgic of holiday materials (wrapping paper) and conveyed through an addictive mix of stop motion and CG animation.
Director Peter Sluzska & Sam Mason
Production Co Hornet
Executive Producer Hana Shimizu
Development Producer Kristin Labriola
Producer Matt Creeden
Editor Sam Stulin
Production Coordinator Riley Spencer
Storyboard Artist Carlos Ancalmo, Maria Chou, David Reuss, Randeep Katari
Designers Kim Dulaney, JJ Kim, Allison Abitbol, Natalie Labarre, Ashely Le Quere
Producer Joel Kretschman
Director of Photography Ivan Abel
VFX Supervisor Eric Lane
Motion Control Operator Richard Coppola
Gaffer Michael Yetter
BB Electric Chris Clarke
Key Grip Garrett Cantrell, Balz Biellmann
BB Grip Kevin Bacon, Bill Hilferty, Paul Bolles
Animator(s) Pete List, Matt Christensen, Maxwell Sorensen
Stop Motion Riggers Tom McDonald, Patrick Zung, Brian Haimes, Maxwell Sorensen, Pete Erickson, Matt Scharenbroich
Scenic Artist Camille Labarre
Screen Printing Kingsland Printing
Prod. Assistant(s) Tim Kuhl, Colin Williams
CG Lead Eric Lane
Animator Jordan Blit, Eric Chou, David Lee, Anderson Ko, Stephen Mann
Compositor Fred Kim, Herculano Fernandes, Aaron Baker, Manu Gaulot
Modeler Ivan Joy
CG Layout Artist Kwan Au
Pre-Viz Paolo Cogliati
Rigger Jared Eng
Lighting & Rendering Cristina Ku, Kwan Au
Look Development Cody Chen, Orges Kokoshari
Animator Ty Enos, Mayuhk Goswami, Yunho Park
Compositor Ted Wiggin
Obsessed with world-building, Sam Mason grew up inspired by artists such as Terry Gilliam, Jim Henson, and Yuri Norstein—auteurs known for creating unique and immersive worlds. His passion to create beautiful and fantastical landscapes embedded with secret languages landed him at Central Saint Martin's in London. His student short won the attention of many studios, not to mention a spot in that year's Annecy circuit.
It also led to his mentorship with acclaimed director Pete Candeland. This partnership launched his directing career on worldwide campaigns for Coke, Toyota, Mazda, and Honda as well as music videos with Sofi Tukker.
In terms of craft, Sam is always excited about applying a style of CG that reflects his lo-fi/hi-fi hybrid approach to making things. He prefers to utilize emerging technologies to apply a physicality and textured realness to his films. He especially likes to start with real objects and from there set up constraints that he can work within, like he did with his collaboration with Hugo Marie for Little Things, where they scoured vintage markets for objects that could ground the film.
With a romantic nod back to the textured details of the Baroque movement, to the reduced instincts of Bauhaus, Sam seeks to create a middle ground aesthetic—a style that straddles both animation and traditional film. The excitement around his methods is a continued push to find new ways of creating a moving painting. The undercurrent of his work is the desire to make something romantic and playful; not overly designed, yet rich with feeling and detail, and always rooted to history. In Sam's own words, his work is never cool but is always playing with the vulnerable.