The Mill Paris talents use FX to bring Renault history to life

Work September 5, 2023

The French automotive brand Renault unveils its Rafale SUV, which takes its name from the historic Renault Caudron-Rafale aircraft. Even if we know Renault for its automotive offering, the brand wrote a page of its history in the air when it bought the Caudron company in 1933 and created the Caudron-Renault Rafale aircraft, which would go on to leave an indelible mark on the conquest of the skies.

Working closely with the Publicis Conseil agency, Renault brings its history to life through the lens of Birth director Dan Di Felice. The film recounts the adventures of Hélène Boucher, one of the first female pilots, best known for her 1000-kilometer women’s world speed record. She is joined by aviatrix Maryse Bastié and Adrienne Bolland, who also made their mark in the still very male-dominated world of aviation at the time.

To highlight its history, Renault called on The Mill Paris’ talents to recreate the plane in 3D from a 1/8 scale model. After this extensive modeling and lighting work, the second challenge was to colorize the plane as Hélène Boucher broke the world record. To achieve this, our talents used FX on the 4 shots concerned, taking care to work on the transitions.

Following on from “Pixel“, “Horses” and “Reinvention“, this new film marks a new step in the collaboration between The Mill Paris, the Publicis Conseil agency and the French Renault brand.

“I've already worked on several Renault campaigns with the Publicis agency, including the "Horses" film directed last year by François Rousselet.
For this new film highlighting the brand's heritage, I had the chance to work with director Dan Di Felice (Birth production), and it was a great experience. Adrien Borzakian was in charge of the VFX on the shoot, and I took over when he returned.
The challenge of this project was to recreate a plane from the turn of the century, the Renault Caudron, of which there are no copies left. So we created a very detailed asset based on period plans and photos. Given the production time, less than 3 weeks, we decided to shoot a real aircraft instead of the Caudron. And so, with the help of an animated roto and a bit of clean, we were able to quickly integrate our plane.
The most complex shots are those of the reveal during the transition from black and white to colour. A lot of FX work, brilliantly managed by our expert Benjamin Lenfant.”
Stéphane Pivron, VFX Supervisor
“I took care of the 4 transition shots from black and white to color. After a great deal of research, I used Houdini to create a simulation that imitated the effect of paint coming off in small fragments and particles, gradually revealing the plane's true color. The first shot was the most challenging, as the plane's propeller was spinning at high speed, and the simulation didn't keep up aesthetically. After many iterations, we got it right! It was also important to work out the timing of the transitions with the director so that the shots flowed perfectly. I really enjoyed working on this project, firstly because the team was made up of super artists, efficient and friendly, and secondly because of its originality. We don't often see this kind of effect in car commercials, as we're often focused on contact effects and interactions on the ground. Well done to the whole team, it was a pleasure working with you, as usual!”
Benjamin Lenfant, FX Artist

Get in touch with our team here.


Dan Di Felice:
Publicis Conseil:
VFX Studio
The Mill Paris:
Executive Producer: Fabrice Damolini
VFX producer: Sébastien Noyon
CG Supervisor: Valentin Lesueur
VFX Supervisor: Stéphane Pivron
Shoot: Adrien Borzakian
Editing: Sophie Fourdrinoy
Grading: Didier Le Fouest
Grading Assistant: Loic Lavaux
VFX Coordinator: Milan Vicet, Mathilde Cohen-Selmon, Alexandre Dupouy
Modeling: Luca Kraether Generalist
Animation: Alban Lelievre, Ganaël Chevallier, Alexandre Sauthier
Lighting: Adrien Borzakian, Mathias Barday
Motion design: Yohann Leroy, Manon Baillet
Compositing: Eric Lemains, Randy Gudin, Paul Goubet
Flame: Stéphane Pivron, Sébastien Aubert, Sébastien Kremer