Nissan Dualis Robot in Powered Suit

Nissan is promoting the Dualis car with a series of TV advertisements featuring a hybrid robot, known as a powered suit, inspired by the Manga tradition responsible for the Transformers television series and movie. In the three TV ads, ‘Jump’, ‘Rise’ and ‘Pass’, the driver and the Dualis are transformed into a hybrid robot or ‘powered suit’ representing the vehicle’s blend of expert handling and advanced technology. When faced with urban gridlock, the Dualis makes his escape by skating through, around and over the traffic.

Driver inside Nissan Dualis Powered Suit

Click on the image below to play the video.

Click on the image below to play the video.

Click on the image below to play the video.


The Nissan Dualis Robot campaign was developed at TBWA/Hakuhodo,Tokyo and Aoi Advertising Promotion Inc, Tokyo.

Shoji Kawamori, executive director at Japanese animation studio Satelight, was asked by Nissan to design a robot to represent their new model Nissan Dualis. Kawamori is known for his and creative work and mechanical design for the Manga classics Macross, Eureka Seven, Armored Core, Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor. He was the original designer of Optimus Prime, in the early days of the Transformers.

Filming was directed by Josh Baker via Sydney Film Company, with producer Nicole Crozier and director of photography Greig Fraser.

Original music was composed by John Green at Nylon Studios. See the Nylon Studios MySpace site, along with Part Two.

The Nissan Dualis driver is played by Oscar Horky, represented by Vivien’s Model Management, Sydney.

Visual effects were developed at Fuel VFX, Sydney, by VFX Supervisor Simon Maddison, VFX Producer Dave Kelly, 3D Lead Mike Bain, and Lead Flame artist Karen Fabling.

Simon Maddison explains that, “The organic feel was not altogether straightforward to achieve. Three distinct models needed to be created: the robot, the car, and a ‘car/robot hybrid’ which would help blend the shapes and geometry in the transition.

The commercials were lensed in and around Sydney and Maddison was on hand to supervise the visual effects shots, many of which involved either moving cameras or car rigs. “We were mindful of recording HDRI (high dynamic range image) lighting references on location, to apply later in post to the robot animation. In this way we are able to match the live action lighting conditions and to reflect the city environments in the robot’s polished metallic surface, all techniques that help with integrating the CG into the live action.”

Visual Effects Background

Each of the three commercial spots brought up specific challenges for Fuel. Mike Bain who lead the 3D team on the project remembers, “In ‘Pass’ the Nissan Dualis is traveling through an underground tunnel, gliding up and down the tunnel walls to overtake traffic; that sequence required Fuel to research and then build a tunnel in 3D, to allow for impossible camera angles and animation. Then in the case of ‘Jump’, the robot interacts with the city much like a mad bike courier; dodging and weaving through the city streets, trying to find to find the fastest route. In that spot additional close up detail, of the ‘powered suit’ interior and the car exterior, had to be created in 3D to tell the story. And finally in ‘Rise’ the robot takes to the skies, launching himself from the roof of skyscrapers.. The original plates were shot on the roof of a low-rise car park and then matte paintings, sky replacements and animated details, like a distant airplane, added to create the city skyline.”

Karen Fabling composited all three spots in Flame and she says, “In truth my job is made so much easier by the 3D team at Fuel – they are a very experienced crew – and given the scale of the job, it went through without a hitch.” Asked what she thought distinguished the Nissan spots, Fabling considers, “The commercials are made for the Japanese market and the client wanted a very crisp, clean look to the animation, with minimal blur or soft focus. I think if you understand the Manga tradition, and respect that aesthetic, then you can achieve a great result.”

Nissan Dualis Powered Suit

The lifesize Dualis Powered Suit model has been on tour around Japan. To see photos and and learn more about the designer at the anime website Akihabara News.