Back to Beijing with Eric Lerner

A couple weeks ago, we posted Eric Lerner’s fantastic Olympics advert for Coke. We recently had a chance to catch up with him for a little Q&A. Here’s what he said:

The character-driven narrative seems like a natural extension of your Mr. CityMen series. Did W+K have you in mind when they approached Partizan for the project?
Yes. They said they really liked the mood and style of the Mr. City Men films and wanted to do something similar to that with the Coke commercial.

With all the locations and camera work, this looks like a pretty big project. Just how big was it?
Partizan’s involvement in the spot started nearly a year before completion. Character design and story refinement took several months, then filming took us to three different continents during a month of shooting. There were several locations in each country, as well as local crews for each stop. Animation then took another three months.

Did you direct the live action or just the animation?
Before production started, I worked very closely with the creative team at W&K to refine the story, character design and overall look. At the storyboard stage, Thomas Hilland joined us and together we planned the live action half of the production.

Thomas directed the live action shoot and we worked together to ensure the birds’ animation was always considered in the live action. I then went on to direct a super talented group of animators to complete the animation part of the commercial.

How was doing this spot different than doing the Mr. City Men series?
Other then the obvious extreme difference in budget and crew, there were a lot more boxes to tick in the coke commercial, as far as expressing certain ideas and messages. Working on Mr. City Men was a much looser process, as stories and time frames were always changing and morphing.

The music is excellent. What was the process behind that aspect of the advert?
The folks at W&K turned to many different artists and studios until they found the right soundtrack. Everyone in the production team had a different idea of what it should be, but I think eventually a track that everyone liked was selected.

What software was used for 3D, compositing and match-moving?
We used Maya for designing, modeling and animation, Shake for compositing and Boujou for match moving.

Technically speaking, what was the most challenging aspect of the spot?
It must have been the 3D modeling of the final shot. The stadium area was a construction site at the time, so that entire scene had to be completely modeled in 3D, which took a few months to complete.


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.



Great advert :) Love the feeling of it
And thanks for sharing the Q&A!

Marc B.

Is it just me who thinks that 1 year of production is way too much for such simple and simple shaded characters? Character design and story refinement alone took several months? Huh?


for the olympics, nothing is simple.


Not just you.
Good spot though.


Great interview… The spot was really cute… :)

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