Sydney Film Company + Fuel: Heineken

A masterful blend of great writing, directing and vfx coalesce in this incredible Heineken spot produced by Sydney Film Company with post work from the wizards at Fuel (the vfx studio based in Australia).


The best part about it? It uses that oh-so-played-out transformer effect with an actual purpose, thereby breathing new life into a trend that I thought would never amount to anything more than a heap of ocular sugar. Funny how a compelling narrative can recast an otherwise stale effect and turn it into the hero of a spot.

Here’s a fun assignment along the same lines: Tell the gripping story of how 3D Stroke overcame the odds and pulled itself out of the plug-in ghetto to be a true star.

Thanks to James Wignall for the link.

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



visualy engaging, and some good concept to it, nice.

how about 3D Stroke with Shine thrown ONTO it?


Oh, how I love the way motionographer stays honest to true design in pointing out useless eye-candy effects and their unnecessary application!!



I’m not really sure if you’re being sarcastic or not, but in all fairness, I don’t have any problems with eye candy. Sometimes that’s what a project calls for. Just depends on the situation. I was only making a weak attempt at humor by making fun of 3D stroke. :)


i got the 3d stroke joke,
but dunbarversion, you have to admit that had some concept in it bro, and the cobble stone sequence looked cool, concept or no concept, respect for that, not any monkey can pull that effect off, you know some 3d pimp hit that up.


Where’s the design? Advertising agency comes up with a clever punchline, then puts down a grip of cash for flashy 3D.

I’m sure it’ll sell a lot of beer.


Just popped in and was pleasantly surprised to see Heineken featured on one of my favourite sites. I thought its time was way over as it came out in January, but looks like I was wrong.

‘tengustone’ – it didn’t really go down like that. The agency boys knew what they wanted from day one, and it was to put some cool effects to good use, and make them work for the story. Nothing wrong with that. (And I don’t know what ‘cash’ you’re taking about… this one didn’t have much.) And yes, I’m absolutely sure it’s sold a lot of beer.

I think FUEL did an amazing job… and this little spot’s done amazingly well for everyone involved.

‘THA_DON’ – Thanks dude… glad you liked it… I’ll tell the animators you dug their cobblestones.



You’re misunderstanding my point. I’m saying that there’s nothing “designed” about the piece. There’s nothing even remotely related to the business of graphic design in the piece. Like I said, it’s a clever punchline that an ad agency came up with, and built in such a way that they could throw lots of trendy “real-world” 3D at it.

Point being, focus on technical flair over concept and process is what’s making motion worse than it ever was. Lately there’s always a hot trend, be it fur, or telescoping, or real-world 3D, that’s heavily driven by technology. There’s nothing noteworthy about the design of the piece, it’s just some well-executed animation and a punchline. Kids in school, or starting school (hell, even professionals) are seeing these sorts of things and spending more time learning Maya/C4D/etc than they are learning about design and focusing on concept.

Bottom line is, advertising and design are not the same thing. The line is getting blurry lately, and it scurrs me.


Its funny. I watch this spot and thought… hey thats cool. Interesting concept, nice execution…. and i move on.

Then I start reading tengustones comments and Im confused!? Are we looking at the same piece? Im not saying its the most unbelievable thing Ive ever seen… its nice, but then again its just a beer ad ya know? It has a decent story, as far as :30sec spots go…and some nice fx and its over. Cool.

Anyway, why so much emotion about a beer commercial Ten? How does this relate to “kids in design school” and “not focusing on concept” etc. There is plenty of concept here… maybe your the one stuck on all the eye candy? Look past it… you will see the light.

And why does anything (in this spot) need to be “related to the business of graphic design.” Except for maybe the Heineken logo design? Please explain?


There’s a difference between a smart concept and a advertising punchline. If you can’t differentiate between the two, then I’m sorry.

Why does it need to be related to graphic design? Because this is a motion design site. It’s not an advertising site, it’s not a 3D animation site, it’s a motion site, and just because Fuel did the effects it doesn’t qualify this as a piece of motion.

It’s like you said – it’s just some nice FX and it’s over. There’s nothing else to it.


Yeah… I agree with most of what you’re saying dude. And no, this definitely isn’t a motion piece. But the guys who run this site decide what goes on, and they seemed to be into my ad enough to feature it.

Don’t know whether to be complimented by you saying there’s some ‘nice FX’… or NOT because you followed it up with ‘There’s nothing else to it.’ It’s not the greatest story ever told, but there’s certainly a concept, and quite a grand one for 60 seconds if I do say so myself. :)

I don’t think I see the borders as defined as you do. This is advertising with some world standard VFX, and hopefully my design-reared eye cast over the whole process. The fact that it made a motion site is great. I’d like to think that’s because a motion designer directed the thing. I hope my membership card is still valid enough to call myself one…

Alexj is right though… you probably shouldn’t be scared for the state of the genre… things aren’t THAT bad.


TWiN1, what I’m trying to say is this:

All of the FX in the spot are terrific. They fit, they’re well-animated, they’re appropriate, they look hip. A job well done.

The concept is non-existant, though. Like I said earlier, it’s a quick little punchline that serves as a good excuse for a lot of hip special effects. A punchline is not strong concept, and that’s why I see it as a good piece of advertising and not as a good piece of design. There’s nothing in the piece that challenges the viewer in any way, be it perceptual or formal or etc etc. There’s nothing new here.

None of that is your fault. It’s an ad, you were hired to do an ad, and if you’d tried to get weird with it.. they probably would’ve found someone else. :) I’m just saying that I come to this site to see smart, revolutionary motion – to try to get inspired – not to look at ads like this.

And honestly, I think the genre is in a nosedive right now, the way that print design was when computers first started to get used. Everyone wants to play around with the technology, but they don’t bother to think about why they’re doing what they’re doing.


When eating spaghetti, I prefer a splade rather than a fork. It holds more.


Actually Motionographer covers VFX, flash, Illustration, film, Design, and even music from time to time. I hope they continue.

Just one last point about this spot, I think it could actually hold without the little kicker at the end. It didnt even need that “punchline” as it was referred to…

The point of the spot is to show how Heineken hasnt changed since the 1800s. Which I think the “transforming” technique taking us from a modern world (using a modern technique) emphasizes that point pretty well. The “sixer” joke at the end was pretty external to the rest of the spot I think…


TWiN1: I prefer separate meals.

Alexj: Wasn’t talking about the “sixer” joke.


tengustone comments reveal just how inexperienced he is.

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